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Technological treatments to manage stress and anxiety
After battling with his own mental health issues, Aaron Labbé, a new media graduate at Ryerson University, created a new approach to mental health treatment with the LUCID Project, which utilizes technology to help people better manage stress and anxiety.
LUCID’s technology is embedded in customized chairs and enclosed “pods” made by furniture company Steelcase. The pods have been placed in universities, hospitals and office buildings across Canada and the U.S. One of LUCID’s Chairs embedded with their technology is open for Ryerson University students and staff to use at the Creative Innovation Studio on-campus.
The chairs and pods work with LUCID’s newly developed app, which is also being released as a stand-alone project by the beginning of this year.
“At our core, the platform measures a person’s response to music, [where it] analyzes those musical features and how it makes the body react,” said Labbé.
Upon opening the app, users are asked to identify their emotional and mental state by moving a dial on a self-assessment grid. LUCID’s software uses this data to provide a fully immersive experience through connection vibrations on the chair and scientifically engineered music that has been proven to help users manage anxiety and stress. During the experience, which can last up to 15 minutes, users can update how they feel on the grid, which over time allows the software to learn what music works best for each individual user and adjust as necessary.
LUCID also plans to connect the app to the phone camera, turning it into a sensor that works with the app to view change in the user’s skin colour through blood dilation. Through this, the app will be using the colour change as a reflection of the user’s heart rate which will help provide more information about a user’s emotional state.
Eight years ago, Labbé was diagnosed with a severe mental health challenge, and through the process of healing, found that there were not many holistic approaches for him to take that were also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Labbé says the long term goal for LUCID is to have their technology approved by the FDA so that their products can be covered through insurance.
“The people who need mental health services and the people who can afford them are two very different things oftentimes,” said Labbe. “We want to have the app be free to those who can’t afford it. The only FDA approved clearances for mental health are therapeutics including therapy or medication.”
In the near future, Labbe says his team is in the research stage of pairing their technology within vehicles to help people focus better while driving.
With the help of his two co-founders Zach McMahon and Zoë Thompson, Labbé was able to build on what was originally his thesis project and grow LUCID into one of Canada’s leading AI startups.
LUCID’s products are designed with the intent to create a memorable and complete experience for each individual through psychoacoustic elements and stimuli to help put users in an inducing restorative brain state.
With so much of the world’s population being affected by mental health issues, products, such as the ones designed by LUCID, could be beneficial to those who are trying to manage struggles with their mental health.