👀 The rise of VR exposure therapy


June 8, 2021

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The Hustle

Jeff Bezos is going to space. Yesterday, it was announced he’ll accompany the first launch of New Shepard, his space-tourism-play-thing. And in true fu money fashion, he’s bringing his bro along. Hey, you can go too… for $3.5m (and counting.)

The big idea
VR experience

The rise of VR exposure therapy

Finally, virtual reality (VR) is actually good for something.

Per The New York Times, there is growing popularity in VR exposure therapy to treat those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

Thanks to the falling cost of recreational VR headsets, the practice is being heralded as a breakthrough tool for psychologists.

It’s called ‘Prolonged Exposure’…

… and puts patients face to face with their trauma.

First developed by clinical psychologist Edna Foa, the premise is simple: Patients describe the traumatic event in detail to a therapist. The therapist then asks the patients to confront those traumatic triggers in the real world.

With VR, therapists are able to recreate traumatic triggers that would otherwise be impossible, such as war zones and bombings.

The ultimate psychology tool?

The psychologists interviewed by the NYT note that VR therapy is unlikely to replace other forms of therapy like talk therapy or real-life exposure.

And because of the availability of recreation VR headsets, some experts are concerned that patients may try it out for themselves, only to see no benefit — a therapist talking you through the exposure is the secret sauce.

“It’s the closest thing our field has to just making opioids available over the counter,” one therapist told the NYT.

Still, the results are positive

In a study of 20 Iraq veterans suffering from PTSD, 16 no longer met criteria for PTSD after VR exposure therapy.

VR’s therapeutic use goes beyond treating just PTSD. A recent study of 50 front-line nurses found that using VR headsets to simulate mindful meditation exercises in tranquil settings produced noticeable reductions in anxiety and stress.

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SNIPPETS

Miami hosted ~12k attendees of Bitcoin 2021, the first major IRL crypto conference since the pandemic started. “Whale” passes were $19k+ a ticket. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Stopelon is a new crypto protesting Elon Musk’s sway over the crypto market. Members held a protest outside a California Tesla factory Sunday. #fintech-cryptocurrency

No-pilot program: California allows Cruise, a self-driving car service, to test its rides on the public. (Bonus: The rides are free.) #emerging-tech

Mendel announced $18m in funding, which the AI startup will use to build a marketplace where the medical industry can share data for disease and treatment research. #emerging-tech

Apple confirmed it paid millions to a woman who had her nudes posted online by 2 iPhone repair techs at an Apple contractor. Obvs, the techs were also fired. #privacy

“Sedition hunters” have spent hours building facial recognition databases and scouring footage in an amateur investigation of the Capitol insurrection. #privacy

We’ve got that: Staples is prepared to pay $1B for Office Depot and Office Max’s retail biz, expanding its office supply empire. #ecommerce-retail

Sure, recycling helps the environment, but what about the bin? LA startup MerMade makes 65-gallon bins from recyclable plastic pulled from the ocean. #clean-energy

Hydrogen generators are better for the planet than diesel ones. Australian startup Endua uses electrolysis to create and store hydrogen for when solar and wind power aren’t available. #clean-energy

Zuckerberg throws shade and courts influencers by announcing Facebook won’t take any of their earnings until 2023 — at which point he claims it’ll still be less than Apple’s cut. #big-tech

Food Tech
pasta gif

Pasta is taking shape (Source: Ars Technica)

Flat-packed pasta could be a sustainable solution for a carb favorite

There are a few major problems with pasta.

  1. It’s incredibly delicious and very difficult to portion control
  2. The many shapes and sizes it comes in leads to wasteful packaging

While it will be difficult to make pasta less delicious, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a way to address the 2nd issue:

Flat-packed pasta that changes shape in boiling water

How? According to Ars Technica, cooking time is influenced by the shape of the pasta. In a sheet of pasta, areas that are stamped with grooves take longer to cook than otherwise flat areas.

Based on this principle, the CMU researchers are able to create different shapes (e.g., cones, spirals) from flat sheets of pasta based on groove placement.

A perfectly packed box of macaroni…

… is still 67% air by volume, according to Ars Technica. With so many varied pasta shapes and sizes, the entire industry deals with wasteful packaging.

Inspired by the flat-packed design from the furniture industry — as popularized by Ikea — the CMU scientists hope to bring a more sustainable form of packaging, storage, and transportation to pasta.

We’re all for it, especially if you can make it just as delicious.

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Road Tech
parking garage

Is the future of parking digital?

For ~$1.3m, you could buy this taxidermy-filled house in Minnesota. Or a single parking spot in a luxury building in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong isn’t the only city with pricey parking:

  • In 2015, 2 luxury buildings in SoHo had 13 parking spots between them, available for $1m each.
  • A tandem spot for 2 cars in Boston’s Back Bay sold for $560k in a 2013 auction.
  • In 2016, a spot behind Hyde Park Gardens in London hit the market for £350k ($495.5k, according to the current exchange rate).

But parking habits are changing

A 2018 Deloitte report found that parking in the US generated ~$30B annually, while the average driver spent ~17 hours per year looking for it. In a city like New York? 107 hours.

But Deloitte also predicted a shift in parking habits thanks to ride-sharing, e-bikes and e-scooters, and autonomous vehicles.

To keep up, parking operators will need technology…

… to improve the customer experience and stay versatile.

Example: Get My Parking, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) startup, recently announced $6m in funding to help digitize the parking industry, which includes things like:

  • Apps that let drivers find and pre-book parking
  • Ticketless entry and exit
  • Automated, cash-free payments
  • Digital loyalty and subscription programs
  • Integration with other services, like EV charging stations

Speaking of places to put cars, check out this car vending machine.

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Meme of the day
VR meme

Source: Imgflip

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