USING VIRTUAL REALITY TO MANAGE PAIN


By Paul Ndiho

The virtual reality industry is still in its infancy, with one-million headsets expected to be sold this year. But one company, Applied VR, says this cutting-edge technology could potentially offer patients a highly enjoyable escape from scary and painful experiences in healthcare.

You’ve probably never heard of Awah Teh, the Cameroonian tech-mogul, who has made a name for himself in Los Angeles for building cutting edge software and mobile applications that compete with some of the biggest names in the industry.

For example, one of the companies he worked for CinemaNow, a digital rights management (DRM) cashed big when it was sold to Rovi Entertainment Networks at 720 million dollars.

“That platform that we built basically, I think was what gave birth to a lot of the different platforms we have today. You know whether it’s Netflix, whether it’s Hulu, or to an extent some of the things that are happening with iTunes. They all use DRM today. And the valuation of cinema now went from this exciting startup with a potential solution to a problem to a seven hundred twenty million dollar company in the space of seven years.”

Once again Teh has created buzz in Los Angeles, he is one of the key players involved in innovative technology called Applied VR or Virtual Reality that is revolutionizing the way people interact with technology.  He says that applied VR’s platform is intended to increase patient comfort and support providers in managing anxiety and pain in a clinical setting before, during and after procedures.

“What we’re doing there is we are creating virtual reality platforms for healthcare. We’re doing things like pain management. So ultimately the long term goal there is to be able to make pain reduction as an alternative to chemical control of pain reduction.”

He also says his company has conducted clinical research to demonstrate how their products may decrease patient anxiety, reduce pain, minimize the need for sedation, lessen the risk of drug complications and shorten postoperative stays.

“We’re the leader in that space right now? We’re in eight of the top ten hospitals in the United States. And news organizations are. So it’s a fancy way of saying: instead of taking pain medication, you can use virtual reality to manage some of your pain.”  Reaching out to us to write articles. It excites me because in many ways we are changing the world.”

The tech executive has also developed several other internationally recognized web and mobile applications — including a global communication platform that allows people to communicate with each other through an interface similar to Facebook.

“The platforms called pen pals. That’s us. We own that trademark, and the pen pals platform is designed to allow people to reach out to folks that they’ve never met and spark new and exciting conversations with different cultures around the world.”

Tech analysts say that the concept of Pen Pals is not new, but what Awah Teh has created makes the world a little smaller and a lot friendlier for people from all walks of life.

As the tech mogul expands his business enterprise, he says his eyes are set on other innovative and cutting edge solutions, especially in the rapidly growing eMedical healthcare field.

UGANDAN CHESS CHAMPION’S STORY BROUGHT TO LIFE IN A DISNEY MOVIE


By Paul Ndiho

Phiona Mutesi is a Ugandan girl, who until recently was relatively unknown at home.  Now, her life’s story is being told in an inspirational film by Walt Disney called “Queen of Katwe.”  The movie chronicles her outstanding ability to play chess and her rise to become a world chess champion, without any formal education.

“Queen of Katwe” starring Hollywood Superstars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo is about Phiona Mutesi a Ugandan girl who hails from one of Uganda’s biggest slums, “Katwe.”  The uplifting drama had its world premiere last weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film follows Mutesi who is living with her mother played by Lupita Nyong’o and siblings in poverty, in the Katwe slum, until she stumbles across a chess class run by charity worker, Robert Katende, played by David Oyelowo.

“It’s a life-affirming African story and as someone of African descent, we don’t see enough of that I believe in cinema, in the press as well so I’m very proud to see a story like this made by Disney as well.”

Despite repeated hardships, Phiona’s ability to play chees is amazing– and her journey to international stardom is amazing. Her big break appears to have happened when Tim Crothers, a renowned author and former writer for the magazine, Sports Illustrated, wrote a book titled “The Queen of Katwe” describing Phiona’s life. Lupita Nyong’o plays Phiona’s fiercely protective mother Nakku and at the premiere she explained how she felt the pressures of motherhood for the first time.

“I learned a lot about motherhood. I’m not a mother and yet I had to play a mother and I learned what it takes…. a bit about what it takes to provide for your family and to be concerned about so many people’s well-being. It’s almost like your heart is dislocated and running around and just feeling the fear, inhabiting the fear of a mother letting her chicks out every day to survive.”

Vanity Fair’s Mira Nair directed the film and brought her own knowledge of Katwe to the production.

“When I heard the story of Phiona and met her, it’s pretty inspiring and I thought of used it to use the locations I loved, the music, seeing the country from within, feeling the dignity and the complete joy even during the best of struggles and it was to make a story without sentiment but with truth and truth is very funny and stylish and sassy in Katwe,”

Mutesi has travelled the world to play chess and she’s met her hero, chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. And she feels that being featured in a Disney inspirational movie is incredible. Now children from across Uganda are taking up chess like never before.  Voice of America was one first international media organizations to bring Phiona Mutesi’s story to light nearly four years ago.

DRONE RACING SPORT CONNECTS DRONE PILOTS AROUND THE WORLD


By Paul Ndiho

Racing unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, is a new sport that’s on the rise in the United States, Europe, and Asia. “Drone Squad” a Los Angeles-based tech startup connects local drone pilots around the world for fun — but it’s the intense competition that’s taking this new sport to another level. screen696x696

Drone racing?  The technology for the new sport is only a few years old, but Drone racing has quickly progressed from hobbyists racing in empty parking lots into a competitive sport. In September 2016, The Drone Racing League and ESPN reached an agreement for the network to broadcast races. Startups like Drone Squad founded last year by Pete Mauro have emerged and are sponsoring drone races.

“I have always been Interested in the new markets, new technology and as soon as I started flying drones, I got so addicted to it.”

Pete Mauro, a certified drone pilot and software developer, says there’s real potential for the Drone Racing to go mainstream. Pilots in nearly 25-hundred cities are already using Drone Squad to build new clubs and grow the ones they have already started.

“In the past nine months, we’ve grown to have pilots over 95 countries around the world anyone the fastest growing drone racing communities in the world and down people is using our product to find other pilots.”

Drone Squad is a gaming community that connects the best pilots from around the world to compete and have fun.

“United States is the biggest market with about 60% of the drone pilots. It’s huge in Germany; it is huge in Korea, which is not surprising because they are really into video games. You know we also have pilots in Africa … there is probably 4 or 5. South Africa’s popular and guys from Zimbabwe. It’s going to explode.”

Mauro says drones zip through obstacle-filled courses, piloted by humans wearing something akin to a virtual reality headset. Tiny cameras mounted on the drones offer the pilots a cockpit-like view, as they steer using joysticks similar to what you’d find on an Xbox controller.

“I started Drone Squad a little over a year ago to solve a problem that I had. It was hard for me as a pilot to connect with other pilots. It was hard to find other people to fly with, and find safe flying locations. ”

Most competitive drones can fly at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, with the goal of collecting the most points. Viewers also have a first-person cockpit view thanks to cameras positioned inside the drones.

Mauro has also created a cutting edge app that is free and available in the Apple app store and Google Play for Drone Racing App users to meet each other, share app feedback and get support. As for me, a want to be drone pilot — I still have some work to do.

 

Not bad at all… I was able to pick up some flying skills, but perhaps, I should leave the racing for the pro’s

Analysts say the drone industry expects increased use of the aircraft will help create 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic activity by 2025. The U.S. already has granted 76 exemptions to the new rules, mostly to companies that want to operate drones at night. Some of the commercial drones already are being used to monitor crops, inspect bridges and transmission lines, assist firefighters and police officers, film movies and make wedding videos. But for tech entrepreneurs like Pete Mauro, the sky is the limit.

AN AFRICAN ADVENTURE OF UGANDAN PRINCESSES


By Paul Ndiho

Our next story is about a fascinating Ugandan – American woman who turned her frustration in search for African dolls and children’s books with themed African characters into a business. Yvonne-Senkandwa-with-Dolls-810x540

Yvonne Senkandwa is a budding Ugandan entrepreneur, writer and author of children’s books, in Pasadena, California.  She is creating a niche for herself with the introduction of her brand of dolls and children’s books into the market about the royalty of the Buganda Kingdom in Uganda.

“The books were first published in 2014, they are for children, and they introduce Kingada culture to children who live in the diaspora as well as to comic book collectors and others who are interested in the Buganda Kingdom and comic books.”

With a keen interest in creative writing, Yvonne grew frustrated in her search for children’s books about African royalty. She turned her frustration into a challenge, writing a series of books that are teaching children the principles of integrity, kindness, and love.  For example, she authored the African adventure of Ugandan Princesses Nkinzi and Mamikka

“It’s my heritage, and it’s where I’m from, and it’s something that I was familiar with, and I thought that I could generate interest in that area. I’m also working in collaboration with other princesses and royalty in Uganda and around the world cause there’s royalty everywhere.”

Her passion triggered her to write a second book in the series, before branching into retailing; launching a series of dolls based on the characters in her books.

“I didn’t immediately go into manufacturing toys but I wrote the children’s series, I started writing the series. And from the series, that led into manufacturing the dolls.”

“Now these are the dolls that I’ve made. This is Nkinzi she is the one dressed in pink. And then we have Namikka, and she is dressed in purple. We’ve got crowned Prince Wassaja, dressed in blue. And lastly, we have Princess Lily their friend who they met at the farmer’s market. So that’s the doll collection

Getting her product sales up has been difficult, so she resorted to doing book fairs and festivals to generate interest, as well as working with toy shows. Despite these hurdles, she has a very positive attitude.

“One of the challenges is to get retailers to be interested in carrying the product. When you’re new, the big question is “Why your product?” and trying to generate a lot of publicity into why the dolls are marketable, doing interviews, book festivals, book fairs, and also working with other retailers that are interested in carrying the books. But that is the challenge. Because it’s a relatively new product.”

Senkandwa’s dolls have become a hit among the Uganda Diaspora and are also gaining popularity beyond the Ugandan community, as she has begun receiving orders to export them to schools in Uganda and to individuals in the United States and other African countries.  Due to the high cost of production in the U.S, the dolls are manufactured in China, after which the parts are shipped to the U.S and Uganda and re-packaged for sale. Yvonne says that her book teaches Luganda words, promote, encourage and preserve the Kiganda Culture in the Diaspora, and most importantly her characters teach life skills.

DELIVERING TECH SOLUTIONS IN EDUCATION TO RURAL AREAS IN GHANA


By Paul Ndiho

Education remains the fundamental tool to alleviate poverty in most African communities.  In Ghana, TechAide – A technology social enterprise, has come up with a different solution to deliver educational content to rural schools using new technology.

techaide

Having access to a library in most parts of Africa can be a challenge but in Ghana – it just got easier, thanks to TechAide a technology social enterprise that has developed E-solutions to tackle some of the country’s continuing education challenges. Kafui Prebbie is one of the brains behind TechAide.

“We have developed products specifically for education. And we’ve been in the space for close to ten years delivering technology solutions in education and supporting rural development. And two of our core products that we’ve developed over the period is EduLab, which is an education computing solution for schools and the latest one which is Asanka, which is our content delivery system.”

As the country becomes more connected to the internet, educators and publishers are finding new ways to reach young audiences and their developing minds. Many students have never experienced the world through reading because they don’t have a library. But TechAide is changing this reality, and they’re doing it is through digital libraries called EduLab.

“My passion has always been to bridge the digital divide – to bring technology into schools. Because I’m a trained educationist and I have the passion for technology. So the idea is how we bridge the gap, technologies that exist in the major cities, and rural areas do not have access too.”

TechAide has built over 70 EduLabs in rural areas where funding, teachers, and resources are scarce. The technology is not free to schools, but TechAide has partnered with IBM Corporate Service Corps, Ghana’s Ministry of Education and several banks to provide funding.

“We partnered with international nonprofits to have accurate low-voltage technology solutions, and so the computer labs that we do set up are specifically low-voltage and consume about the one-tenth of the power of a standard computing solution.”

Kafui Prebbie says through their programs, students can access approved educational content, including audio, video, and interactive games and with IBM’S global pro-bono consulting program they’ve been able to take this initiative to the next level.

“What that did to us was, it helped us to be able to change even the trajectory of how we were going to provide those technology solutions into the schools. With this, we have developed the architecture in such a way that it’s even more relevant to the needs of our communities.”

Gina Tesla, Director Corporate Citizenship, and corporate affairs says Ghana has long been a launch pad for innovative collaboration, making it logical for IBM to partner with TechAide in Ghana.

“What we want to do is help provide the highest skills possible, to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

 

To date, IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, and TechAide are working very closely together to support girl’s education under the “Let Girls Learn initiative” launched by former U.S President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in 2015.

“The whole premise is to help support greater access to education for adolescent girls. There are at least sixty-two million young girls worldwide who are not receiving an education.”

Kafui Prebbie says TechAide’s solution to deliver educational content in rural schools has potential to be replicated in many African countries. TechAide has its sights set on another innovative idea called ASANKA which means ‘community bowl’ — it’s a collection of important content for everyone to access.

 

 

USING VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) TO MANAGE ANXIETY AND PAIN


By Paul Ndiho

The virtual reality industry is still in its infancy, with one-million headsets expected to be sold this year. But one company, Applied VR, says this cutting-edge technology could potentially offer patients a highly enjoyable escape from scary and painful experiences in healthcare.

ahaw

You’ve probably never heard of Awah Teh, the Cameroonian tech-mogul, who has made a name for himself in Los Angeles for building cutting edge software and mobile applications that compete with some of the biggest names in the industry.

For example, one of the companies he worked for CinemaNow, a digital rights management (DRM) cashed big when it was sold to Rovi Entertainment Networks at 720 million dollars.

“That platform that we built basically, I think was what gave birth to a lot of the different platforms we have today. You know whether it’s Netflix, whether it’s Hulu, or to an extent some of the things that are happening with iTunes. They all use DRM today. And the valuation of cinema now went from this exciting startup with a potential solution to a problem to a seven hundred twenty million dollar company in the space of seven years.”

Once again Teh has created buzz in Los Angeles, he is one of the key players involved in innovative technology called Applied VR or Virtual Reality that is revolutionizing the way people interact with technology.  He says that applied VR’s platform is intended to increase patient comfort and support providers in managing anxiety and pain in a clinical setting before, during and after procedures.

“What we’re doing there is we are creating virtual reality platforms for healthcare. We’re doing things like pain management. So ultimately the long term goal there is to be able to make pain reduction as an alternative to chemical control of pain reduction.”

He also says his company has conducted clinical research to demonstrate how their products may decrease patient anxiety, reduce pain, minimize the need for sedation, lessen the risk of drug complications and shorten postoperative stays.

“We’re the leader in that space right now? We’re in eight of the top ten hospitals in the United States. And news organizations are. So it’s a fancy way of saying: instead of taking pain medication, you can use virtual reality to manage some of your pain.”  Reaching out to us to write articles. It excites me because in many ways we are changing the world.”

The tech executive has also developed several other internationally recognized web and mobile applications — including a global communication platform that allows people to communicate with each other through an interface similar to Facebook.

“The platforms called pen pals. That’s us. We own that trademark, and the pen pals platform is designed to allow people to reach out to folks that they’ve never met and spark new and exciting conversations with different cultures around the world.”

Tech analysts say that the concept of Pen Pals is not new, but what Awah Teh has created makes the world a little smaller and a lot friendlier for people from all walks of life.

As the tech mogul expands his business enterprise, he says his eyes are set on other innovative and cutting edge solutions, especially in the rapidly growing eMedical healthcare field.

Mobile App Monitors Cardiac Rehab Programs


By Paul Ndiho

A Nigerian-born, California-based electrical engineer has developed a mobile application called “Movn”, that’s designed to implement virtual cardiac rehab programs for patients with heart disease.  Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 7.57.51 PM-1

The World Health Organization says that cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the world’s number one cause of death. 17.5 million People die each year from heart-related disease. But could a mobile cardiac rehab program app be the answer?  Ade Adesanya, co- founder of the Los Angeles-based Moving Analytics has built a cutting-edge app called “Movn” that could be the future for hospitals to implement virtual cardiac rehab programs for patients with heart disease.

“What we do at moving analytics is we work with hospitals to design and implement virtual cardiac rehab programs for patients with heart disease. The goal is to help a patient after a heart attack or heart surgery to do their cardiac rehab at home through a tablet or a smartphone application.”

This mobile technology has the potential to overcome barriers to access to cardiac rehabilitation and may be a useful tool for increasing participation.

“The problem we’re solving is that less than 20 percent of patients in the U.S. after heart surgery or a heart attack do cardiac rehab, even though all the research shows that if they do it, they can live five years longer, they have half the risk of getting a second heart attack, improves the quality of life.

Adesanya says he was inspired by his father, a prominent Lagos businessman.

“I have always been fascinated with entrepreneurship, and that came from my experience growing up.”

The company’s biggest breakthrough came when they first met executives from the American Heart Association. What started as pitch to build a fitness tracker — resulted in an opportunity for Moving Analytics to venture into cardiac rehab.

“I remember picking up the phone and calling close to a hundred cardiac rehab programs across the country. I would say hey I am a grad student working with the American Heart Association — you know we’re trying to build an app for cardiac rehab, but I don’t know what is, so can you tell me what you do in a cardiac rehab program. What are the challenges are and what can you see as the source of innovation.”

Movn is an evidence-based rehab program developed at Stanford University.  Mr. Adesanya, says through the mobile app, patients can receive and interact with information, record and review data, receive automated feedback, and connect with other users or healthcare providers.

“They built the program and did numerous clinical trials, and that program is called multi-fit, they’re able to show that patients who did that program had the same critical outcomes.”

Shuo Qiao, chief technology officer, Moving Analytics says, technology is lowering the barrier of people making products, but security to protect patient information has to be a priority.

“We take security seriously because as a healthcare company, safety is the number one thing when you build a product. So we take all the safety measures to make sure that we can serve our patients in hospitals.”

Since its inception, the company has signed up 13 hospitals as paying customers.  As the firm grows and expands into more hospitals, its leaders have their sights set on other rehab applications — and a remote disease management platform to include

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