In-person therapy might become obsolete due to Virtual Reality

By | BLOG
Digital Health | Source: Personal Connected Health Alliance

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 last week in Las Vegas featured latest trend in digital health, suggesting promising future where access to healthcare becomes easier, quicker and more ubiquitous than ever. The market value of digital health industry, including mobile health, telehealth, and wireless health, was estimated to be 96 billion dollars in 2016 and is expected to reach 142 billion dollars by 2018. Even those who are oblivious of its tremendous market size had a chance to have firsthand experience of the technologies at the show and were convinced that digital health will completely transform traditional healthcare industry.

Wearable is a key digital health technology

Out of all digital health technologies, wearables that have remote monitoring sensors to keep track of patients’ conditions and provide feedback accordingly gained huge traction as innovative tech at CES. In particular, there was a considerable number of startups at the show attempting to capture the brain activity using wearables, thus promoting relaxation, managing stress, aiding sleep and potentially making treatment for cognitive and behavioral disorders more effective and personalized. Among such varied startup companies, Looxid Labs was definitely the most distinctive one to look out for at this year’s CES, for its technology combines brainwave monitoring with Virtual Reality (VR).

A booth visitor trying out LooxidVR at CES 2018

So many visitors at Looxid Labs’ booth expressed huge interest in trying out LooxidVR, a mobile VR headset embedded with EEG sensors and eye-tracking cameras, to conduct cognitive and behavioral therapy for widespread ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our several Medium posts have already discussed how VR combined with electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring can be used to overcome fear (Dare To Explore: VR Helps You Conquer Your Fears) and treat, more specifically, illness such as ADHD (VR Neurofeedback: A New Drug-free Treatment for Mental Disorders). Yet, owing to interests of many researchers and enterprises who visited the booth, this week’s research review will once again shed light on the effectiveness and future potential of VR therapy.

Virtual Reality cognitive behavioral therapy can promote tobacco cessation

This week’s research (Virtual Reality Behavioral Therapy) explores the development of personalized outpatient cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) by utilizing VR and mobile health technologies. CBT involves a process of changing patients’ unhealthy thoughts, beliefs and actions, increasing more desirable behaviors; however, CBT has traditionally been conducted in real-life settings, for instance, a group therapy session, only. On the contrary, this study takes full advantage of VR and monitors neurophysiological responses during its CBT session to reduce smokers’ tobacco use. Moreover, the study aims to overcome the challenges of reduced treatment effectiveness for outpatients when they have less personal connection to therapists and feel difficult to integrate therapy session into their daily lives.

A virtual group therapy session | Source: Virtual Reality Behavioral Theory

Before getting immersed into VR, each research participant (a heavy smoker) was asked to wear a VR headset, an EEG monitoring device, and Zephyr Bioharness, which is a non-invasive wireless wearable that is worn around the chest and measures heart rate, skin temperature, and breathing rate. This neurophysiological sensor data allowed the researchers to determine the extent to which different messaging and content influence each subject. Once everything was all set to go, the subject entered a virtual room where he or she went through a virtual group therapy session with different types of avatars. During the session, each avatar presented 90 seconds of pre-scripted, personal experience of smoking. For example:

“Hi my name is John. I’m 54 years old and I smoke to take the edge off when I’m stressed. I worry about keeping my job. And sometimes I wonder if I can really handle everything. Having a smoke just gives me a second to think.”

Each of the avatars was given a distinct persona that is found on different smokers’ characteristics based on their smoking, socio-demographic, and lifestyle information: age, gender, education, income, existing diagnosed medical conditions, duration of smoking, cigarette brands, motives for smoking, etc. In addition, the avatars were created by transferring facial expressions and body movements of human performers to a 3D model prior to the experiment, and the personal messaging by the avatars was also recorded by the human performers.

After the simulation, the subjects reported their subjective experience of the VR therapy session, including verbal description of their emotions, stress-level, and general feelings; smoking urges test; content satisfaction questionnaire. Based on the subjects’ neurophysiological responses and subjective data, the researchers addressed and explored some key questions:

  • Do self-reported emotions correlate with the neurophysiological response across the experiment and during specific events?
  • Is there a significant change in the neurophysiological response between avatar stories?
  • Does the avatar predicted to evoke the peak emotion differ from the actual peak-emotion evoking avatar?

Through the evaluation of the subjects based upon the three questions, the researchers were able to validate the effectiveness of the avatar stories and customize content for a specific smoker. Tailored content and messaging allowed the avatars to more convincingly emulate human behavior and interaction, thus creating very personalized simulation that maximizes the smokers’ emotional response and ultimately promotes tobacco cessation.

Remote and personalized therapy becomes possible

Virtual Reality Therapy | Source: The Guardian

Last week we covered how physiological-data-driven approach to personalized content marketing can bring in a new phase of marketing industry. In a similar manner, this study suggests that VR therapy can also become more effective and individualized through neurophysiological analysis, and, as portable bio-sensing wearables come into wide use, that a large population of outpatients can experience the benefit of a therapeutic environment at the time and location of their choosing. VR plays an instrumental role in digital health as well. VR-based clinical treatment not only offers more room for control — “real-world therapeutic environments include random elements with at least some degree of session-to-session variability” — but also enables a rigorous assessment of treatment response for a wide range of patients without exhausting process. Advances in VR will offer tremendous opportunity for new medical interventions and for better public health messaging, and may in fact represent a major inflection point in clinical adoption of the technology.

LooxidVR | CES2018 Best of Innovation in VR

Looxid Labs’ LooxidVR flaunted its potential of transforming digital health industry at this year’s CES. The VR headset combined with bio-sensing hardware has a possibility of becoming a major digital health wearable that fulfills both portability and efficacy. Doctors will be able to remotely provide individualized therapy session to outpatients and make exhaustive and accurate evaluation of patient’s illness and recovery based on their neurophysiological responses. In-person therapy might be an obsolete option no longer offered in the future.

LooxidVR pre-orders will start on Feb 1st, 2018. If you want to learn more about LooxidVR and Looxid Labs, feel free to visit our website at www.looxidlabs.com.

Also, we are sending our newsletter on the VR trend and VR research periodically. Subscribe us if interested in receiving our newsletter.

Reference

  1. Virtual Reality Behavioral Therapy | Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2016 Annual Meeting
  2. New CES 2018 wearable tech boost your health and wellness | SCMP
  3. ‘After, I feel ecstatic and emotional’: could virtual reality replace therapy? | The Guardian

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CES 2018: Looxid Labs Steps into Spotlight at the world’s biggest tech show

By | BLOG

This year’s CES is finally over. And we did not just survive the show, we nailed it. See how!

Best of Innovation, Best of CES 2018

Following in the megacorp footsteps of previous winners Google’s Tilt Brush last year and Samsung’s Gear VR in 2016, Looxid Labs’ LooxidVR has earned a CES 2018 Best of Innovation Awards in AR and VR. So how could this 3 year-old tech startup make such achievement?

LooxidVR―a mobile based VR headset for eye tracking and EEG recording― can track a user’s brain activity, eye movement, and pupil dilation. It features time-synchronised acquisition of eye and brain data concurrent with VR contents and provides an expandable API, which can be widely applicable in various VR industries that require better understanding of users’ emotional status such as stress level, preference, and engagement.

This has sparked interest to a variety of media including Engadget, Forbes, and MarketWatch in various countries. Some industry analysts interviewed us to write about our company in their report and to introduce our company to their investors. Above all, Engadget chose Looxid Labs as the finalist for the official Best of CES 2018 awards. In particular, we were nominated for the best startup category.

Global IT leading companies are also interested in combining Human physiological data with VR

Not only the media but also VR business representatives from top tech companies showed interest in Looxid Labs. Global IT leading companies considering VR are advancing their artificial intelligence technology through myriad variations on AI systems. Clearly, there is interest in improving human experience and analyzing physiological and behavioral data by using algorithms to provide customized VR content. As you may see in our older Medium post ‘How can physiological data-driven approach revolutionize VR content marketing?’, there are numerous attempts to explore a better way to gauge user preference and even emotional reactions in response to VR content. Here’s the proof. Many CEOs from VR content companies said that they’d love to purchase the LooxidVR which offers information about how users’ brain activates and where users look in VR and waited such an item to conduct BCI research.

New Interfaces for Automotive Industry was a major highlight in CES 2018 and LooxidVR can also play a part in it

Of the thousands of new products on display, it is safe to say that major highlight in this year’s CES was the next level interface such as brain interface or voice interface in automotive industry. Toyota announced that Amazon Alexa would be incorporated with Toyota and Lexus vehicles, so that Toyota and Lexus customers will soon be able to easily control their cars by easily speaking to Alexa. The service will also enable new features in the cars themselves, such the ability to start the engine remotely or lock the car doors by giving a command through another Alexa device.

Also, Nissan’s experimental “Brain-to-vehicle” technology demonstrated how drivers can control their car with their thoughts. As a driver wears a helmet studded with EEG sensors, its brain-to-vehicle interface predicts the driver’s actions and start performing them 0.2 to 0.5 seconds sooner. Its goal makes the driver have more pleasant driving experience by driving without any electronic assistance and providing augmented reality displays based on the driver’s thoughts.

LooxidVR Pre-Orders Kick Off on Feb. 1st.

Do you want to experience new interfaces which enable you detect how users are immersive in VR or engaged with VR content using their eye and brain interfaces? Are you a neuroscience researcher to investigate human cognition and emotion using EEG and Eye-tracking technology? Then, here is your yearning device “LooxidVR”. LooxidVR is designed to measure the user’s eye movements and brain activity with VR embeddable eye-tracking camera and EEG sensors and unlock new levels of user research by exploring users’ minds. LooxidVR can be widely applicable in various VR industries that require better understanding of users’ emotional status.

Do you want to purchase LooxidVR? LooxidVR pre-orders start on February 1st, 2018. If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website at www.looxidlabs.com.

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How can physiological data-driven approach revolutionize VR content marketing?

By | BLOG
Fig 1. Netflix VR App | Source: Netflix

What is personalization in content marketing?

It was only until recently that marketers realize that spending money on content marketing without personalization is a fool’s errand. Now you can see a list of content with a phrase “recommendation for you” everywhere, especially in major media services such as YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon. Though seemingly randomly selected and organized, an individualized list of what each consumer would love to see entails an arduous effort to develop an optimized personalization algorithm along with collecting a large quantity of user data.

Among other media content providers, Netflix goes one step further. Netflix seeks to optimize not only what to recommend but also how to recommend to their users. (Read more detailed article at Artwork Personalization at Netflix). In this Medium article, Netflix tech team discusses how they personalize artwork for content that they provide. Stranger Things, with its second season ended in great success, has a variety of artwork (Fig 2) ready to be shown to users based on their preference and interests — if the accumulated data of a user’s clicks shows that the user is often intrigued by the artwork with main actors in it, the recommendation system will present the best imagery accordingly. Most of the Netflix’s users hardly notice what’s behind the scenes, but they would be amazed to find out what happens every time they click “play”.

Fig 2. Different types of artwork for Stranger Things | source: Artwork Personalization at Netflix

What are the challenges of personalization?

Nevertheless, Netflix tech team brings up some challenges that they are currently facing.

  • Challenge #1. Understand whether a user chooses to play a video due to its artwork or regardless of which image the system presents.
  • Challenge #2. Gauge the impact of changing artwork on a user’s decision
  • Challenge #3. Measure quantitatively how a specific artwork performs better than others

All three challenges that Netflix has encountered mostly arise from failure to find signals that best represent the performance of artwork. Netflix currently takes into consideration some significant signals from their users: the information of videos that they’ve played, their country, language, the device that they are using, and the time of day and the day of week that they’ve played. Yet, at best, Netflix can only infer a user’s intention from these signals, not exactly understanding why a user prefers a specific artwork and when a user is showing interest or indifference to the artwork. Especially in times like now, when immersive media is gaining huge traction and many media services (especially Netflix) are seeking to enter the Virtual Reality (VR) market, overcoming aforementioned challenges has never been more important in content marketing.

Can physiological data-driven approach help overcome the challenges?

Fig 3. Coca Cola Virtual Reality Christmas Ride | Source: Coca Cola

There are numerous studies that attempt to explore a better way to gauge user preference and even emotional reactions in response to media content. Today’s research review will take a look at a study that examines the implicit (cognitive and physiological measures) and explicit (preference) consumers’ response to four traditional TV commercials and four VR commercials.

The key fundamental of this research comes from previous findings that the activation of the prefrontal cortex is highly associated with personal liking and disliking of stimuli and that the immersive aspect of VR provides presence that might even surpass reality for some situations in which social, cultural, and physical features are properly simulated.

To start with, the researchers instructed each participant to put on a 16-Channel electroencephalogram (EEG) cap and two electrooculogram (EOG) electrodes to detect both dorsolateral prefrontal cortical (DLPFC) activity and eye movements during the experiment. Then, the participant watched, in a random order, four traditional commercials from different companies (Marvel, Nescafe, Volto, Coca Cola) and VR advertisements of the identical brands. The participants watched traditional TV commercials on a 2D screen, and they were fitted with “Oculus Rift” for viewing the VR advertisements. After each commercial, the participants were asked to evaluate their experience in 20 different adjectives including “Interesting”, “Exciting” and “Captivating” with a 7-point scale.

As the researcher hypothesized, significantly higher frontal activation (theta band activation) and higher scores for each adjective were observed in VR advertisements compared to the traditional ones, which should come as no surprise. Rather, what should be highlighted here is that there was a strong coherence between implicit (EEG and EOG) and explicit consumers’ preference (self-assessment); higher theta band activation was detected in the participant’s recorded EEG data when the participant reported that the content was more exciting, interesting or captivating. The key takeaway here is that analyzing cognitive and physiological responses can be an alternative, or if not, complementary solution for gauging user preference in VR content marketing.

What is the limitation of physiological data-driven approach?

Yet, Netflix and other content providers would still be reluctant to bring in this new attribute to their system because they worry about physiological sensors considerably degrading content experience, even if they could provide a highly individualized content recommendation to each user. They are afraid that they might fall between two stools. Looxid Labs can help content providers to overcome the challenge of traditional personalized recommendation system. Looxid Labs’ VR headset LooxidVR provides a way to seamlessly measure users’ physiological responses and gain insights into user preference without hampering immersive VR user experience.

LooxidVR | CES2018 Best of Innovation in VR

LooxidVR is a mobile VR headset with seamlessly integrated eye-tracking cameras and EEG sensors. Six EEG sensors are attached to the foam that cushions a wearer’s forehead, detecting their prefrontal cortical activity; two eye-tracking cameras track eye movements, pupil dilation and eye blinks. The acquisition of a user’s EEG and eye movement data synchronized with VR content can tell content marketers exactly what triggered user’s emotional arousal (excitement or disgust) and compare the impact of different content based on quantitative data. For example, if content marketers discover that a user was excited based on his/her prefrontal cortex activation when he/she viewed an intense car action scene in a movie, they can add very specific and individualized content to the user’s list of recommendation.

With physiological data-driven approach, content marketers can better understand their consumers’ preference and therefore provide relevant and stimulating content for each individual. If LooxidVR’s technology takes off as media service companies expect, the revolution in content marketing will be soon to arrive.

LooxidVR pre-orders will start on Feb 1st, 2018. If you want to learn more about LooxidVR and Looxid Labs, feel free to visit our website at www.looxidlabs.com.

Also, we are sending our newsletter on VR trends and VR research periodically. Subscribe us if interested in receiving our newsletter.

Reference

  1. How Personalization Is Changing Content Marketing
  2. Artwork Personalization at Netflix | Medium
  3. Consumer Neuroscience: the traditional and VR TV Commercial | Neuropsychological Trends

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