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Sharjah Research: Cutting-edge AI solutions for psychology

Combining tradition and AI (Artificial Intelligence), a Spanish company operating at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park) has developed a cutting-edge application for psychology.

VirtuE R&D is specializing n the development of AI application for psychology called Equine Therapy or Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT). This is treatment uses horse and includes equine activities to promote a wholistic mental, physical and emotional therapy of people experiencing mental health problems, including attention deficit disorder (ADD), autism, anxiety, dementia, depression, motor and developmental delay, genetic syndromes, traumatic brain injuries as well as behavioral and abuse issues.

Equine therapy dates back to the times when horses were used for therapeutic riding in ancient Greece. Now, the treatment uses AI to enhance its therapeutic benefits.

According to Hussain Al Mahmoudi, SRTI Park CEO, Equine Therapy is used to help an individual build self confidence, develop communication skills, learn how to trust and control emotions, and other social and emotional skills. 

“The idea is to develop an emotional connection between humans and horses and such behaviours will then transform into social and responsive behaviors. Other animals and pets, including dogs and cats have also been used for therapeutic purposes. Horse is one of the most popular animals used in animal therapy because it gives immediate feedback to rider. Equine Therapy has been recognised and used to boost mental health in many countries,” he added.  

How it works

Equine Therapy is not just about riding the horse. It can also involve feeling or touching the horse. The therapist will set goals for the person, like putting the horse at a designated area, putting a saddle or strapping a rein on the horse. The person will then describe how he/she completed the task to the therapist. This activity encourages a person to be focused on the task at hand and it also develops communication between the handler and the instructor as well as the person and the horse. 

The session will help the person become aware of his/her environment and the programme will help the person rediscover oneself. It will enhance intuition, heighten sensory perception and supercharge strategic abilities. VirtuE R&D will then digitally map the interaction between the person and horse based on the experiences and feelings. Through the interaction with the horse -and its extremely sensibility, it would be easy to determine the needed therapy and next course of action.

The people behind the project

VirtuE R&D team also works on developing many software applications that can offer solutions to a wide range of mental-health-related problems, most importantly health and wellness in the workplace, prevention and treatment of anxiety and addiction, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

Over years of research into deep psychology and experimental psychotherapy, the founders of the project, Elisabet Calomarde (BS in Psychology) and Marc Herrero (EMBA), have developed an own methodology of using offline, face-to-face therapy to understand how the unconscious mind processes emotions and forms memories. 

Both project founders are driven by their strong desire and passion to participate in the project and contribute to its success in cooperation with the Sharjah RTI Park to develop a proprietary vehicle-based software whose therapeutic applications are wide-ranging and have previously achieved success in test cases.

Using deep learning processes based on Affective Computing and Artificial Neural Networks, the VirtuE R&D aims to compute the mapping of the human limbic system through a game-based, wholly digitized therapy system, capable of replicating exactly every benefit provided by a human therapist, but at a fraction of the cost and free from the human error, such as non-objective diagnoses and personal projections.

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