Vancouver’s tech industry is thriving, and local digital innovation is being showcased at the largest conference of its kind in Western Canada, the BC Tech Summit.
Microsoft is the title sponsor of this year’s Summit, and if you’ll be in attendance, you’re in for a treat.
Here’s the scoop: there’s a maker space called The Garage at Microsoft Vancouver where employees, interns, and community partners design and develop products.
Just imagine a space where there are no bounds to how creative you can be, and you’ll have the right idea. Here, groups join together to explore technology and prepare for the future of innovation.
One of these groups is made up of five engineering graduate students from Simon Fraser University (SFU). The group will be presenting their revolutionary ‘Viu’ project at Microsoft’s exhibit at the Tech Summit, and it has some potentially life-changing applications.
The Viu Health Team originated from a neurodiversity hackathon hosted by Microsoft and they develop assistive technologies to help individuals lead independent and fulfilling lives. Microsoft offered the team an opportunity to work with mentors through The Garage.
“As the hackathon ended, we decided to continue this project in our spare time and turn our ideas into reality,” the Viu Health Team told Daily Hive.
How Viu works
Now, let’s take a look at the project: Viu is an anxiety management solution that aims to learn, individualize, and predict, to help users manage and predict anxiety events, while also providing meltdown tracking for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“The technology uses physiological signals from wearable devices to recognize symptoms of distress and predict episodes. We examined feasibility symptom detection through a pilot study where we found high potential in using biosignals as indicators for nervous episodes.”
“Our daily lives have become increasingly more digital and studies show that young people have experienced a threefold increase in anxiety symptoms. Technology has brought many conveniences to our lives but the constant slew of lights and notifications is believed to be contributing negatively to self-esteem and mental wellness. The tracking and analytics provided by Viu can enable users to focus on their wellness.”
According to the Viu Health Team, the technology could “reach far beyond those suffering from anxiety disorders and could also benefit people suffering from a variety of conditions including ASD and ADHD.” It could allow individuals and loved ones to “detect a distress condition and then notify loved ones and caretakers” and “see detailed analytics. Giving individuals an ability to track episodic events is empowering.”
Viu would provide early “warnings of major distress events, so that they [the user] can remove themselves from the triggering situation,” and it would also give individuals the opportunity to use this technology “to aid their attempts to self-regulate.”
Benefits for users and clinicians
Over time, the Viu Health Team believes that this data could greatly help clinicians to provide more individualized care and even monitor health trends.
“Our generation has placed increased emphasis on mental wellness as an integral part of our health. Workplaces have been making strides to create welcoming environments for people with neurodiversity. Viu’s ability to track, detect, and communicate elevated levels of unease could allow it to play an integral role in the life journey of individuals living with neurodiversity,” the Viu Health Team told us.
The team found working at The Garage to be a refreshing and stimulating experience, with “many helpful experts and a variety of resources to make Maker projects come true.” And that the “openness of the space allows creators from different disciplines to work seamlessly together.”
The Viu Health Team Members include; Chakaveh Ahmadizadeh, Jordan Lui, Neha Chhatre, Rana Sadeghi Chegani, and Zhen Xiao.
The talented students behind Viu are one of four groups from The Garage who will be presenting their tech creations at this year’s Summit.