Columbia, Missouri-based StoryUP creates Healium…virtual escapes to quiet the mind

Sarah Hill, founder and CEO of StoryUP is building technology to help people cope more effectively and peacefully with stress in their lives. The company has developed the world’s first augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platform powered by wearables that “listen” to user’s brainwaves and biometrics. Healium’s mindfulness platform is powered by the…

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Sarah Hill, founder and CEO of StoryUP is building technology to help people cope more effectively and peacefully with stress in their lives.

The company has developed the world’s first augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platform powered by wearables that “listen” to user’s brainwaves and biometrics.

Healium’s mindfulness platform is powered by the user’s heart and mind through wearables to help users engage in their virtual environment.

“Our technology has been shown in two published studies to reduce stress in as few as four minutes,” said Hill.

StoryUP’s Healium kit includes a goggle, headband, and software including 12 VR goggle experiences. StoryUP adds new content to its Healium platform every 60 days. The kit also includes video curriculum about XR (VR and AR) and a book about neuro-meditation with instructions.

The path to StoryUP began through Hill’s work as a TV journalist, where she spent 20 years reporting on human crises such as homicides and the aftermath of natural disasters such as tornadoes and the 2004 tsunami. She found herself grappling with the negativity of the human suffering she witnessed in her job.

Hill’s inspiration to create virtual peace was set in motion while reporting on the plight of many military veterans, particularly those who are aging and no longer able to physically travel to see the memorials. She knew she wanted to develop a drugless technology, also known as a “digiceutical” to address the epidemic of stress that she found to be so prevalent in the world.

Hill began by creating a virtual experience that visually mimics a visit to the military memorials in Washington, D.C. Hill prototyped the software that streams VR experiences through goggles. Together with her co-founder Dr. Jeff Tarrant, she measured brain patterns of Veterans watching their virtual reality experiences. They measured the biofeedback of veterans who tested the goggles. The data they collected revealed that the virtual experience positively affected the wearer’s physiology. Hill hypothesized that she could help people use their own brain patterns to produce therapeutic stress-reducing and peace-generating effects for themselves.

Hill and Dr. Tarrant founded StoryUp three years ago and created Healium, a VR and AR kit designed to provide a virtual escape from stress for the users. StoryUp is based in Columbia, Missouri, and has customers in hospice, nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and assisted living. The Healium kits are also being used to reduce situational or acute workplace stress.

The technology is popular among nurses who often experience what is known as “compassion fatigue”, and among teachers, first responders, and military personnel. Hill has found that schools are using Healium kits as an alternative to time-out for students. Healium kits will be on 28 airlines this year for passengers of long-haul flights.

Hill cited other examples of Healium’s use, such as for management of generalized stress during a divorce or throughout the course of treatment for chronic disease. “Patients treated at infusion clinics, or those receiving dialysis, or those having their blood drawn are able to experience the affirmation that their thoughts have power in both the virtual and the real world,” said Hill.

Hill explained, “The Healium technology target market is not a demographic, it is a behavior, or state of mind. We provide a virtual solution to alleviate stress – which is a state that everyone experiences in varying degrees throughout their lives.”

She continued, “our VR solution offers a different way of thinking about media; we’re inundated with social and political media that can so often trouble us and create an internal state of stress. Healium is like an antidote for your media diet, reminding you of beauty in the world. We provide a tool that provides self-care for your mental well-being.”

The StoryUP team comprises digital creatives and people with experience in game design and development, cinematography, and clinical expertise in neuro-feedback. “Our team is a group of story-tellers and creatives,” said Hill.

“We are building StoryUP in Columbia for many reasons. We have the fortunate advantage of a large pool of media creatives coming out of the Missouri School of Journalism – the premier journalism school in the country, as well as a wealth of medical talent in the local hospital and University of Missouri Medical School. We’re working on research projects with the hospitals and clinics in the Midwest and beyond.” She added, “Calling Columbia the home of our company makes the best financial sense – we’re able to operate at a fraction of the cost of locating on the coasts.”

StoryUP as a company is steadily achieving success and hitting milestones as Healium grows in popularity. The company has earned a Webby nomination alongside Nickelodeon, AMC Theatres and NBC Universal for “Best Use of Augmented Reality”. The company won first-place prizes in two recent pitch competitions, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and SXSW in Austin.

StoryUP is also releasing the world’s first AR experience for Apple Watch. Users can grow flowers and illuminate planets using an Apple Watch and iPhone to lower their heart rate, or they can cast the solar system in their bedroom and virtually illuminate the stars and planets using mindfulness and their own heart rate.

Healium single user licenses are available at $29/month, and enterprise user licenses are available at a cost of $99/per month/kit, depending on the number of employees. The cost of hardware is additional.

Click here to check out the Healium virtual experience: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lipuhMB3Luc.

Visit https://www.tryhealium.com/ to learn more about this company.

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