Research and evidence backed approach of innovation towards implementing a digital vaccine for reducing risk of lifestyle disease

Bhargav Sri Prakash


FriendsLearn is a biomedical and biotechnology company based in India, which since 2011 has been developing digital vaccine technologies for children, based on Neuroscience, Psychology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases and to improve their health risk scores. FriendsLearn’s digital vaccine candidate is a product that combines Virtual Reality, Machine learning (AI) and immersive mobile gaming technologies, which is delivered via a purely software based iOS/Android mobile App – “fooya!”. This software-based intervention has been found to produce statistically significant health outcomes towards positively influencing healthier food choices. Three independently conducted, phase 2 equivalent, randomized controlled clinical trials, involving children (largest study as part of the ExxonMobil Summer Science camp involved treatment n = 502 and control n = 492), have been undertaken by independent groups of academic researchers. The science-based and evidence-backed scalable, product-centric approach positions the self-funded team to define a category of digital vaccine technologies. Through a mission-driven commitment to research and science, the self-funded has collaborated with world leading academicians, behavioral scientists and neuropsychologists, from Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Baylor College of Medicine’s Children’s Nutrition Research Center/USDA.

Innovation focus of the company builds upon fundamental discoveries in immersive mobile-VR gaming AI as it pertains to theoretical and experimental neuropsychology. Fooya has been iteratively designed and refined based on progressively positive results during user research and independently conducted clinical experiments, which have informed and validated proprietary methods of triggering neural activity in the slow and fast brain regions of the prefrontal cortex within children. These patterns of activity, developed based on theoretical neuroscience and validated through recordings of neural activity, have been precisely focused through the iterative development of game compulsion loops to target excitatory and inhibitory neuronal activity. These proprietary methods have been found to generate attention and emotional response through immersive game flow, in combination with working memory reinforced through contextually relevant methods in experiential learning and learnification of VR based core game mechanisms. Furthermore, these methods have been found to influence decision states, which form the underpinnings of linkages between neuropsychology and resulting food behavior-habit formation. While the field is new, fundamental understanding of the neuropsychological mechanisms are being explored in collaboration with leading neuroscientists, as the evidence backed technology is being scaled and refined based on empirical and theoretical models of secondary impact, attention, emotional response, game flow and vicarious conditioning.
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