CHOP and Floreo Awarded $1.7M NIH Grant to Test Whether VR can Improve Police Safety in Individuals with ASD
The Small Business Technology Transfer Fast-track award will fund new pilots with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research.
WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 31, 2017 – Floreo Inc., a venture backed tech startup developing virtual reality-driven autism therapy, today announced it has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Fast-track grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test “Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool to Improve Police Safety in Adolescents and Adults with ASD.” The project will be undertaken in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research (CAR), one of the country’s leading autism research organizations. Through the Fast-track grant, NIH awarded Floreo $1.7 million, with $289,000 to be applied to the recently started Phase 1 of the pilot.
Floreo’s virtual reality application provides immersive and engaging therapy intended to help individuals with ASD build real world skills. If proven effective, the application would be an affordable supplement to traditional therapy that is fun and engaging for the user, while allowing a supervising adult to monitor and guide the activities.
“This NIH grant will be critical towards testing the efficacy of VR as a science-backed tool for helping individuals with ASD,” says Vijay Ravindran, Chief Executive Officer of Floreo. “Recent events have raised awareness regarding the urgent need to help these individuals develop important social skills, such as how to interact with police officers. We are excited and grateful for the opportunity this grant will provide us to help this important community.”
“We know that practicing social interactions and a range of appropriate responses is an important support for people with ASD, who can become overwhelmed and freeze up more easily in unfamiliar social situations,” explained Dr. Julia Parish-Morris, Co-Investigator at CAR. “Floreo’s virtual reality application gives us a unique and important opportunity to help individuals practice critical interactions that will help them stay safe and increase their ability to live independently in their communities.”
The police safety pilot will begin testing this fall.
About Floreo Inc
Floreo is an early stage startup founded by Vijay Ravindran and Vibha Sazawal. Its application, which is currently in a pilot phase with various clinical-facing institutions, delivers safe, immersive, fun and affordable autism therapy through the power of virtual reality. The company is based in Washington DC. Find out more at http://www.floreotech.com
About the Center for Autism Research (CAR) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
CAR is a multidisciplinary research center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)with a three-part mission to discover the causes of autism in order to develop better treatments, support families affected by ASD, and provide world-class training for the next generation of master clinicians and scientists. Find out more at http://www.centerforautismresearch.org.