2021 has been a wonderful year for 18Loop and our kids with cancer. All of us are grateful that although the pandemic is still not controlled, life is moving ahead. A key focus area for the 18Loop team in 2021 is scientific research. In order to effectively distribute our VR solution, it was necessary to test its safety and efficacy. We are doing this in conjunction with the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) and Tripp, the company that supplies our Virtual Stress Management Environments. Our Joint Experimental Intervention Research Study (JEIRS) launched in late 2020, and we are already gathering qualitative data and preparing to collect quantitative metrics from the deployed headsets.
The first phase of JEIRS is funded and as of this post, there were eight teens who have either received VR headsets or are expecting them soon. Our team will measure 15 children in total in this first phase, all of whom are teenagers. There is a plan for a subsequent phase that will test Tripp on younger cancer patients. Our early data indicates that Tripp is beneficial in both the inpatient hospital environment and the outpatient home environment. VR Stress Management software like Calm and Focus from Tripp ease the nerves and center our cancer teens. They also fight boredom in the cancer ward by utilizing VR for games and information. In future family interventions, we may connect families virtually even when they can't meet in person. 18Loop's overarching goal is to improve survival rates by helping our kids tolerate treatment, recover and thrive. We hope that VR for kids with cancer becomes a non-narcotic solution for pain and helps to combat side effects in a similar way that drugs like odansetron do now.
This Spring, 18Loop is expanding our research to the cancer center. We are at the beginning of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) process that will vet our technology and approach, allowing our team to launch a new research initiative that will expand on our work with the ACCO. Tripp will help us with technology monitoring and by bringing their vast experience working in hospitals to our effort. Together with oncologists, palliative care physicians, 18Loop team members and technologists, we will seek to publish research on our impact and mission. This will allow us to confidently advocate for VR for the pediatric oncology population, with the confidence that our approach is overwhelmingly beneficial. Only then can we begin the process of widely distributing VR technology to as many of the 16,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year that can benefit like our early study participants. Please support us in our efforts!
18Loop is very excited about our signature program Virtual Comfort. We are beginning the distribution of Oculus VR headsets to children with cancer. This distribution is being facilitated by the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO). Initially, we planned to deploy mobile VR technology, but our testing with the ACCO drove us to look further. Oculus affords us the best optics, the ability to adjust pupillary distance and the capacity to run custom environments. For Virtual Comfort, ACCO kids are testing environments coded by Tripp, which combine a gaming sensibility with meditation and computer science. We believe that this will elevate the mood of our children and help with pain as well.
Our first Virtual Comfort child Elizabeth touched base with me a few weeks ago, and her report couldn't have been more positive. Our VR had improved her mood, and it was being used by her little brother as well. We didn't initially anticipate that Virtual Comfort would impact families beyond the patient level, but Elizabeth and her brother proved us wrong. 18Loop expects to deploy 10 Oculus headsets by Q1 2021, with our sights on 50 headsets by midyear. We will need help fundraising to support the growth of the program, but we are already receiving help. Nanea Reeves, CEO of Tripp, sent 18Loop 5 Oculus headsets last week. This contributed to success in achieving our initial goal with the ACCO. Nanea is a great partner, and Tripp is a wonderful company!
In the coming months, 18Loop will scale our deployment of VR through the ACCO and will also begin exploring relationships with cancer centers. The goal is to execute a Case Study derived from specific quantitative metrics gathered in the hospital. We are currently collaborating with our team as we work to develop a protocol and explore relationships on the medical front. As we progress, we will never forget the relationship we developed with Elizabeth, as her family is vital to our early success. We look forward to 2021 becoming the year of 18Loop's growth in impact. You will remember 18Loop and especially Elizabeth, as she is the cancer warrior pictured on the front page of 18Loop.org. Thanks Elizabeth!
Advocacy and Awareness is a mission of 18Loop. We are dedicated not just to deploy Virtual Reality (VR) in the fight against pediatric cancer, but to inform and encourage others to do so as well. 18Loop is doing this by getting our message out on Social Media, by planning to address future events and by collaborating with our partners.
I am friendly with a very capable Solutions Architect in the telecom industry who is up to date on most modern technology, and when we spoke the other day he was confused a bit by my VR/Spatial Computing message. He didn't have a window into the future and was unaware of the coming changes in the industry. If a top cloud professional didn't know, how are cancer families supposed to know? Smart minds are beginning to talk about specialized VR positions emerging in hospitals to administer VR environments to recovering patients. These workers will be called "Virtualists", but we likely won't receive care from them for a few years. That's were 18Loop comes in.
2021 will be an exciting year for 18Loop. We will launch our cancer center case studies, working hard to gather quantitative metrics on our unique solution. This will drive grant solicitation, fundraising with high wealth donors and the delivery of results to the individuals that support us day to day. Our academic achievements will drive our altruistic efforts and sustain our wider mission. We plan to address the HIMSS (Health Information Management and Systems Society) conference in August 2021 and are exploring avenues to spread the word on 18Loop as soon as the pandemic allows. FutureHealth.global has nominated us for an award (Best Digital Technological Innovation), and we hope to attend the event and collect a victory!
Spatial Computing is the name that some technologists give to the ubiquitous eventual world of xR. For those who don't know, xR refers to VR, AR and MR, or Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. VR uses a headset to put you in a world that is entirely computer generated. AR allows you to view your own real environment (through glasses or contacts) and it adds (or augments) that environment with computer generated graphics or holograms. These graphics are often static. MR does what AR does, but allows for the graphics to interact with other objects in the environment. At 18Loop, we are initially interested in the VR aspect of Spatial Computing. We feel that the current level of technology is more than sufficient to make a huge impact. We are now deploying the Oculus Quest, and as is often the case, new technology (the Quest 2) has emerged. 18Loop is excited to deploy the Quest 2 soon with Tripp environments. We believe that this new (and very real) solution will help kids with cancer tolerate treatment, recover and thrive.
Based on our resources, we think xR will play a huge role in society in the coming decade and beyond. The top tech companies are all investing in the development of this technology and what is currently available can no longer be ignored. By 2025, we'll see AR glasses becoming more prevalent. The initial adopters will be thought of the same way early iPhone adopters were: "your phone is nice to have, but I don't need it!". In similar fashion, in 2030 even Grandma will be using xR.
18Loop is excited about the times we live in. VR has been proven to have an efficacy greater than morphine in treating pain. Our partners at Tripp offer a Virtual Stress Management solution that is not yet an authorized therapy, but combines gaming, meditation and computer science to scientifically improve mood. Stick with us to watch and read about the results of our Pilot with the American Childhood Cancer Organization! Spatial Computing is at an early age, but it's here to stay. Help us help our kids fight cancer and win.
I founded 18Loop three and a half years ago after a long career in tech sales and an AmeriCorps stint helping Opportunity Youth prepare for college and careers. As a technology professional, I wanted to do something with tech to make an impact on society. After speaking with my friends and advisors and experiencing a fight against pediatric cancer firsthand, I decided to focus my nonprofit on fighting the disease. My approach was shaped by a course I took at MIT on Artificial Intelligence. The course, my advisors and my life's experience all told me that AI was ready to make an impact. 18Loop would deploy it in the form of Virtual Reality headsets (VR). There was a level of kismet in terms of our acceptance into the VR community. We are tied in some way today to Tripp, whose environments we deploy on Oculus hardware, AxonPark, whose CEO Taylor Freeman has connected us to the VR world in Silicon Valley, Immersed, whose VR collaboration environment is incredible and Embodied Labs who has inspired us and connected to us. Tripp and its CEO Nanea Reeves have been so wonderful that they require another dedicated blog post!
18Loop would be nothing with simply its technology. We required access to kids with cancer and that has been graciously afforded by the American Childhood Cancer Society (ACCO). The ACCO is led by Ruth Hoffman, who understands our needs as a nonprofit while balancing her organization's influence with cancer families. We love Ruth! Our first ACCO kid, Elizabeth, is a 16 year old experiencing a setback with Neuroblastoma. She will soon utilize our VR to cope with her pain and meditate through a difficult time. 18Loop VR can be used in the home environment or in the hospital, and we expect our Pilot to generate similar results to the very successful studies that have already been done (some of which are linked on OUR PROGRAM).
So, how did 18Loop get its name? I used to drive in a loop on Route 17 near our office in NJ. On these drives in my Toyota, I would dream of the business we were building and plan. I began to think of these drives as Route 17 Loops. When I searched that name, it was unavailable and I thought 18Loop was a great substitute. My mentality has been to embrace what I considered a "techy" name while running the nonprofit like a for-profit startup. So far so good. In the coming weeks I will introduce you more throughly to our team and partners. This month (September) is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please consider making a donation to 18Loop or the ACCO. God Bless!