Brain Health


VIRTHY - Virtual reality for CBT by Artificial Empathy

By Salt and Pepper

Team Leader

Aiswarya Rajendran Minikutty

Basic Information

Our Solution

VIRTHY - Virtual reality for CBT by Artificial Empathy

Our solution's stage of development:


Our solution:

VIRTHY is about creating a virtual reality immersion for developing the mindfulness for Cognitive behavioral therapy.The experience also involves implementing an interactive Artificial Intelligence in VR that conveys empathy for the users thus making it easier for people to get help.

Our pitch:

The problem:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  (CBT) is very effective in coping up with a bunch of problems starting from depression, eating disorder,stress,chronic pain and on.The skill of mindfulness lies in the core of CBT.But how do we develop this skills? And strong enough that we can learn to use them in real life to cope up with real problems?Also running to a personal therapist is not always the most economical solution nor is it easily accessible.Also it takes its due time to develop trust with therapist.Or Neither do they have infinite empathy.They are very much human like all of us!

Why our solution will solve the problem:

VIRTHY is about using the techniques of CBT for mindfulness along side using a general narrative technique in the form of an abstract story based on humor,culture and ritual of a region that gives the users the freedom of creativity in perceiving a story from their experience thus forcing a higher immersion. In this state of immersion ,VIRTHY would have an interactive artificial intelligence that conveys empathy to the user,which will also add to the replay value.The skill of mindfulness helps to 'rewire the brain' .Immersion narration example by artist Lundhal and Seitl

Prototype mini

Target Outcomes

Our target outcomes:

1.Replaces the therapist as it helps the user to have a very individualized immersion experience at the same time gives CBT exercises to train the user and the empathetic AI provides the human feel.Understanding the impact of artificial empathy in Virtual reality for cognitive behavioral therapy.

2.Mostly people affected with depression,eating disorder,stress and chronic pain.(could be applied for most of the cases where CBT is used)

3.Intially through CBT clinics,later I would strongly suggest to get VR gears though they are on the costly side.

How we will measure our progress:

  • Outcome: Effect of VR CBtherapy on coping with depression
    Measurement Plan: Questionnaire and personal Interviews
  • Outcome: Effect of empathy in the therapy
    Measurement Plan: Questionnaire,Personal interviews and Neuroimaging techniques
  • Outcome: Later stage when it's available in cloud
    Measurement Plan: Number of downloads

The populations we will benefit initially:

  • High-income economies
  • Upper middle income economies (between $3976 and $12275 GNI)
  • Lower middle income economies (between $1006 and $3975 GNI)
  • Urban
  • Suburban

The regions we will benefit initially:

  • Europe and Central Asia
  • US and Canada

The technologies we employ:

  • Consumer-facing software (mobile applications, cloud services)
  • Digital systems (machine learning, control systems, big data)
  • Imaging and sensor technology
  • Robotics
  • Something so new it doesn’t have a name

Why our solution is unique:

The abstract methodology of storytelling which focuses on minute cues and narration techniques in VR is aimed at giving the user the power to be the storyteller by his way of interpreting the cues. Thus forcing higher immersion and having a very personal experience.Another very interesting factor is the Artificial Intelligence virtual character that conveys empathy to the user in the story which is also interactive.One of the things that makes machines less human is the lack of Empathy and compassion,it would be interesting to study the impact of Artificial empathy.

Why our solution is human-centered:

We are using virtual reality art therapy to train people cope up better with their mental health situation.Using empathy for replay value itself points out the entire idea of the project is human centered.The addition of integrated sensors and vibrating actuators adds intense sensory impression that conveys empathy along with touch.

How people will access our solution:

1.The startup salt and pepper to which I'm associated has tie up's with two CBT clinic's in Germany and Netherlands.The prototypes mostly shall be tried out there using the VR gears.

2.We don't know how to make it affordable enough so that everyone could have it as VR gears are on the costlier side,so currently it's better if it's accessible to public through clinics for lending out at this point of time.I would need help here and that's exactly where SOLVE could play a huge role so that even low income countries could have access to it in a broad spectrum.

Technology-Readiness Level:

4-5 (Prototyping)
Business Plan

How we will sustain our team financially:

I am Cognitive science master's student and I'm interning with the virtual reality startup called Salt and Pepper in Germany.Salt and Pepper supports this project for now.And this project is going to be my master's thesis as well.I also have another part time job for paying bills.

The factors limiting our success:

1.High cost of VR Gears could limit individual purchase for the time being which could also led to not being able to expand it to low income countries. 

2.Lack of trained immersion artists in the team leading to missing out on different perspectives and delays.

How long we have been working on our solution:

Less than 1 year

How long it will take to develop a pilot:

3-6 months

How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:

6-12 months

Our expected annual budget:


How much of our budget we've secured to date:


Partnership Needs

We're looking for partners in these fields:

  • Chronic Diseases
  • Behavioral / Mental Health
  • Substance Use / Addiction
  • Digital Health
  • Medical Training

Why we're applying to Solve:

We are looking for partners who would be able to grant funds for the VR gears for the underprivileged and also for establishing a company for  primarily developing stories based on culture,humor and ritual of different lands for VR therapies and also analyzing their data for improving.Lastly,UN is an international platform and we believe it would provide as with connections in order to take it up with the help of various government and non-government organizations .Also I would like to be selected for the Arts and Culture mentor ship by Yo-Yo Ma.

Our current partners:

Salt and Pepper software solutions

Solution Team

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