VRapeutic: VR Therapeutic Interventions for Children

UNICEF Innovation Fund Investments in Skills and Connectivity

Ahmad Al-Kabbany, Founder, VRapeutic
Virtual Reality enables the replacement of the surrounding environment with rich scenarios that are hard to realize within the confinement of therapy rooms. The photo is from one of VRapeutic’s demo sessions.
VRapeutic
13 July 2020

Immersive technologies can make a significant difference in the lives of children with learning difficulties and developmental challenges. We at VRapeutic seek to leverage Virtual Reality (VR) to design therapeutic solutions and interventions to children diagnosed with such conditions, including but not limited to dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism, and cerebral palsy.

With VRapeutic, therapists can lead ‘supervised VR experiences’ where every element in the virtual environments are controllable. Our solution ensures that therapists are able to track and access the patient's progress and customize their therapy plans. While this setup usually takes place at therapy centers, it lends itself well to remote delivery of therapy sessions, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic with the associated public health measures of social distancing.

Nevertheless, we have always perceived technology not as a goal but as a tool. We aim to positively impact peoples’ lives through technology; and for this to happen credibly, solutions need to be backed by scientific research. The design process of our unique curricula is centered around widely adopted assessment tools of the targeted skills and facilitates data-driven therapy planning using machine learning algorithms, and also enables the integration of biosensors in virtual experiences.


FRONTIER TECHNOLOGY 

With over one-hundred million children worldwide suffering from learning difficulties, it becomes imperative to explore and adopt new promising tools that capitalize on the ever-growing advances in frontier technologies. In addition to numerous research studies, a recent research that was conducted at the University of Waterloo affirms that in only four months, there was a 35% increase in social and cognitive awareness for children participating in VR-based training on social cognition. This is a new hope for special education, for developmental healthcare, and for millions of families worldwide. Every child counts, and every child must have access to better opportunities.

Example of VRapeutic’s modules and a part of our curricula on cognitive skills
VRapeutic
Example of VRapeutic’s modules and a part of our curricula on cognitive skills.

OPEN SOURCE

VRapeutic has been built around core values, two of which are empathy and large-scale impact. Opening doors and enhancing accessibility to better healthcare and education are an integral part of VRapeutic’s message. One approach that can be taken towards this goal is open source development. In relation to large-scale impact, collaborative innovation and capacity building are essential gradients for success, and providing open source solutions can help significantly in this regard. Indeed, it is one possible strategy towards building a community that can provide the required diversity and resources for sustained development.


TEAM & DIVERSITY

Addressing unique challenges using high-paced immersive solutions at a global scale requires a diverse team with multiple strengths and perspectives. VRapeutic has built a multidisciplinary team with forty years of combined experience in assistive therapeutics, VR development, technology research, developmental healthcare, and psychology. Our team has built a  holistic vision to not only build unique products, but also to  sustain innovation and achieve long-term benefits for our end-users.

A multi-disciplinary team with a message, passion, and grit, innovating unique products amidst the current challenging times
VRapeutic
A multi-disciplinary team with a message, passion, and grit, innovating unique products amidst the current challenging times.

WAY AHEAD

To work, innovate, create opportunities, and open doors “for every child” shapes our core values. VRapeutic is working with partners who believe in the message and our vision, and who can elevate our impact to new heights. Through the UNICEF Venture Fund, we have joined hands with an inspiring partner that is dedicated to our success. With the Fund’s support, we will be empowered to take our product development and validation one step further, and to implement key expansion plans for our team and targeted markets. 

Finally, we are thrilled to explore opportunities to collaborate with the Fund's larger cohort of startups working on bridging various social, learning, and accessibility gaps for young people. Particularly, we are interested in collaborating with other startups on developing open source hardware solutions for immersive technologies, and on developing Natural Language Processing solutions for multilingual voice-based interactions in virtual environments. Joining such an innovation-driven community of like-minded people with entrepreneurial mindsets not just resonates with our own goals, but will also help our venture grow and thrive.