#1315: Latest Research on Innerworld VR Mental Health Peer Support Platform & Cognitive Behavioral Immersion

I interviewed Noah Robinson, Founder and CEO of Innerworld VR, at Meta Connect 2023. See more context in the rough transcript below.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. It's a podcast that looks at the future of spatial computing. You can support the podcast at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So this is episode number 10 of 12 of looking at different interviews and coverage that I did at MetaConnect 2023. So today's interview is with Noah Robinson. He's the founder and CEO of InnerWorldVR, which is a mental health peer support platform across VR and flat screen devices. So I had a chance to do a previous interview with Noah upon the launch of Interworld VR back in November. And this is a really innovative like social VR platform. It's really meant for folks who are wanting to get support for a variety of different things, everything from mental health and addiction or different grief groups. I mean, there's a whole wide range of different types of groups that Noah's holding here. And this is unique just in the sense that it's not like professional therapists that are in there, but they're basically other people who are helping each other out based upon these different techniques of what Noah calls cognitive behavioral immersion, which is a variation of cognitive behavioral therapy, but specifically tuned to work in the context of VR. So, Noah wanted to give me a little bit of update because they've had a chance to publish a couple of studies in terms of trying to look at the efficacy of some of these different immersive therapeutic techniques, but also some of the research that they're going to be funding and doing in order to expand out and to try to show how effective some of these approaches are in the context of XR. And the broader context is that there's a bit of a mental health crisis in the United States and that there's not enough therapists to actually meet that demand. There's a shortage of like over 5 million therapists that are needed. And this is a way of doing peer support that is able to address that problem and to address the other problem, which is that folks may actually feel a little bit more open to have the anonymity within the context of VR. So there's a kind of an anonymous element to this social VR platform. where you can have this sense of social presence and get all the benefit of being around people, but have the anonymity of being behind your virtual avatar in the context of this virtual reality experience. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Noah happened on Thursday, September 28th, 2023 at MetaConnect at Meta's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:31.150] Noah Robinson: Hello, my name is Noah Robinson. I am founder and CEO of InnerWorld, a mental health peer support platform that works across virtual reality and flat screen devices like computers and phones. And then I'm also about to finish my PhD in clinical psychology at Vanderbilt University, studying under the creator of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He's my mentor's mentor.

[00:02:53.154] Kent Bye: Great. Maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into this space.

[00:02:57.991] Noah Robinson: Sure, so I've been really excited about the power of virtual worlds. I had a personal experience when I was 13. I realized I was gay and I became depressed and basically escaped into RuneScape, which is like World of Warcraft for anyone who doesn't know. You know, I had an avatar in a community. and it saved my life. You know, I was contemplating suicide because of how depressed I was, and having that community in Avatar and, you know, dopamine hits I was getting as I leveled up my virtual skills kept me going. And it also sucked me in, and I had spent almost 10,000 hours living in that world. And eventually, because I was in Avatar and I had a community, I felt comfortable enough to come out of the closet to my clan, and that empowered me to come out in the real world And that led me to wonder, you know, if games can be designed to suck people in and use dopamine hits to save their life, but also kind of distract them from reality, could we build something that could be used to have people come back to reality more empowered than they left it? And so I pursued a PhD in clinical psychology. And then I also realized, though, that, you know, while I was being trained as a therapist and CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is the leading modality worldwide for using evidence based tools, tangible tools that are simple and straightforward that people can learn. and take with them out of the therapy session and into the real world. As I gained expertise in that, I realized that there's not enough therapists to help everyone who needs it. You know, we're 5 million therapists short in the United States alone. So that's why I started exploring alternative ways for delivering mental health intervention.

[00:04:33.492] Kent Bye: Great. And so, yeah, maybe you could give a bit more context for how InnerWorld came about. I know we had a previous conversation where we got into the whole history and evolution. But, yeah, just to kind of a brief recap to bring folks back up to speed.

[00:04:45.164] Noah Robinson: Sure. So because there aren't enough therapists to help everyone who needs it, we train empathetic individuals who are not therapists, they're not licensed, but we train and certify them in what we call cognitive behavioral immersion, which is basically taking a lot of the tools of CBT and translating them into a virtual environment where people can learn. And so these folks who we call guides lead live group sessions where folks come in as avatars, they're able to attend these sessions. Now we have almost 200 sessions a week. across all different topics. It's trans-diagnostic, so depression, anxiety, ADHD, substance use recovery, LGBTQ, autism, parenting, chronic illness, caregiving, I mean, anything, you name it, we're doing it, we have a community. And Folks are also able to hang out and have that community, that same sense of community that I had when I was a teenager. And we've done clinical studies and have published actually two papers since we last talked. We recently published two peer-reviewed studies that show that it's actually leading to similar amounts of symptom reduction as what you would see in therapy. But we have no therapists on the platform. So we see this as a way to address the mental health crisis. because you can actually train folks and have people come in with lived experience who get better, and then they become guides, and they help other people. And that's the virality and the scalability that we really need to solve the mental health crisis, not another tele-mental health platform that's just gonna take the same limited workforce of therapists and try to get them to reach patients in a different way with different technology.

[00:06:17.716] Kent Bye: So you had mentioned that you had published two studies, is that right? And so what were some of the main findings of each of the two studies then?

[00:06:24.538] Noah Robinson: Sure. So the first study was our first time publishing something on cognitive behavioral immersion, which is our novel modality that we've created. And that study was talking about substance use and tracking through qualitative research, how folks experience in a world compared to in-person peer support. And there were a lot of benefits that they reported. So it was a feasibility study that says, yes, this is a feasible way to help folks who are in recovery from substances to get help and have an anonymous, powerful way to connect with others. And then the other thing I published in this, which I'm really excited about, is a figure that basically plots all the different ways that you can have social interaction or mental health delivery. There's in-person, there's text, there's video, and then there's virtual environments. It plots all these things on two axes. One is how anonymous the technology is, and the other is how much presence the technology facilitates. And it turns out when you do this, you see a really interesting distribution because in-person is the highest of presence. It's like you really feel like you're there, and it's the lowest in anonymity. It's in one corner. Text chat is the opposite. It's like super anonymous, but there's no sense of presence at all. And then you have these other things like, you know, video chat is low in both. It's low in presence. I mean, there's some sense of presence, but it's low anonymity. You have to show your facial expressions. That's why I think people get Zoom fatigue. You're not getting the reward of all of those social cues that you have to be on showing your face, showing all that. And you're not even getting the reward of the social presence, really. But virtual environments are unique because they're high in both. especially immersive VR, your high sense of presence, high sense of anonymity. And that's why we believe it's the most powerful way to deliver mental health intervention or cognitive behavioral immersion specifically. So that was one paper. Then the second paper, we basically looked at folks on our platform who had a score of 10 or above on a depression measure, a clinical measure called the patient health questionnaire. It's nine questions. So they had the clinical levels of symptoms of depression. We're not diagnosing them, but they had clinical presence based on self-report. And we looked at the change in their depression and also their anxiety scores. We also looked at folks with anxiety and we saw that there was a significant decrease over an average of 10 sessions, similar to what you would see in therapy. And it's really exciting because there's no therapists on the platform. It's all folks that we trained in cognitive behavioral immersion. So we're seeing this effect that's happening and just need the randomized control trial to prove that it's that causal relationship So it's really exciting, and we have this incredible data that shows that folks who are using InterWorld are experiencing decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety, and also reporting it's helpful for substance use recovery. But part of the challenge with knowing whether something works, like the scientific question of does InterWorld cause reductions in symptoms, which is important to know, it's possible that folks who are really motivated to help themselves, who have clinical levels of depression or anxiety, are also folks who are more likely to download innerworld and therefore the symptom change we're seeing is not being caused by innerworld. So the only way to answer that question with any intervention in medicine and healthcare is through a randomized control trial where you actually take folks and you take a set of folks who have depression and you randomly assign them to either getting innerworld or not and track their symptom change over time and that actually lets you control for all the other variables that could be leading to symptom change. And so, in addition to launching on the store, which is really exciting over the past year, we've been working on a research proposal that just got funded, which we're really excited about, from the National Institute of Mental Health, to conduct a randomized controlled trial to answer this question of whether Interworld is causing the change in symptoms for people with depression specifically. That's what this trial is focused on. And we're taking it one step further because there's a question here. Interworld works on VR headsets, it works on computers, it works on phones, and a lot of us in the VR community feel the power of the immersive technology. It feels like a step beyond anything else that's out there. But what is the actual difference? Like, you know, if you could quantify the difference in symptom change that the immersive technology leads to versus the flat screen experience, which is less immersive, but still something, what is that difference? So we have three arms in the trial. We have the control condition, which is basically nothing. So we have folks with depression who will wait eight weeks to access the intervention. They'll still get it, but just waiting eight weeks so that we can track their symptom change. We have folks accessing Interworld on a flat screen device for eight weeks, and then folks accessing Interworld on a VR headset for eight weeks. So this will be one of the first studies that actually shows for every dollar that you spend on immersive technology, what's the return on that investment? What's the symptom change and the quality of life improvement? And we're excited because this could actually be data that's used to convince folks like payers or other large entities to invest in immersive technology for their employees or for their corporate lives because we can prove through science that this technology actually has greater clinical impact than its counterpart in a flat screen device.

[00:11:32.149] Kent Bye: So yeah, how long has Interworld been launched now? Because I know we were talking right as it was coming out from the App Lab. So you've had a bit of a beta launch, I guess, in some sorts. But now you've been on the main store for the MetaQuest. So how long has it been on the main store now?

[00:11:46.901] Noah Robinson: So we launched last November, so almost a year. And I'm also proud to say we are the top rated mental wellness app on the store as well. So we have really incredible ratings and reviews. Yeah. And it's just a really exciting thing.

[00:12:00.725] Kent Bye: When we talked the first time back in November, I remember that because you had this model where people were basically subscribing for either a month or a year, that folks at Meta had seen that this was enough traction that it was actually crossing a number of their thresholds to promote it from the App Lab into the main store. And I remember when we were talking about it, there was this question as to taking this leap into whether or not, as you scale, if you're able to kind of do this load balancing of how many people you're hiring versus being able to deal with the demand. And so there is this, at certain points, you start to have to continue to hire more people in order to deal with the demand. And so I'm just curious how that juggling act has been going based upon when you first launched versus what you are now and if there's a general trend of growth and what that process has been like of trying to juggle and balance both the staffing of these peer-trained folks to be able to be on call, basically, 24-7, but also have enough people in there. And yeah, just love to hear a little bit more about how that journey has been going.

[00:13:00.256] Noah Robinson: Yes, we were nervous a little bit. I mean, we didn't know. We wanted to over-prepare so that we had an excess of people. And we were also, when we launched, we were ready to flip a switch or turn on a wait list if we needed to so that we were able to help everyone who comes in. There's an ethical responsibility for us to have the level of staffing needed for people coming in expecting to receive mental health support even though we have a acknowledgement that we're not crisis intervention and we're not therapy when people sign up. But that load balancing has been really interesting. If you think about a therapist, the average therapist can see 30 patients per week maybe. That's a lot. There's a lot of admin overhead as well for one hour each and our guides can lead in one hour a group of up to 30 people. That's just giving you a sense of the scale and difference of the one-on-one versus the many. I kind of think of it like this metaphor of, you imagine a barn with bales of hay and each straw of hay is a person with a mental health problem. To solve the mental health crisis, you have therapists who are doing really good work because some people really need that individual attention. But overall, from a population perspective, moving one piece at a time, versus these folks who can move 30 pieces at a time. So the ability to reach is like we're moving whole bales of hay and that kind of metaphor. So it's really powerful and we have a wait list with hundreds of people who have applied to become guides on our platform. We have people who've been helped in the platform who are now becoming guides. So we've had no shortage of folks who want to learn this modality. And now that we've published the scientific evidence showing its impact, it's really exciting because there's a lot more people interested in learning how to do this and helping others.

[00:14:41.365] Kent Bye: Great. And has there been a general growth of how many people you're able to employ? Yeah.

[00:14:46.715] Noah Robinson: Yeah, we have significant growth. I can't necessarily give specific numbers, but we have a big workforce of individuals, and we're able to compensate them as well. Some are volunteer and some are paid depending on their experience and also how many hours they're working and things like that. But it's really exciting. We're providing employment opportunities while we're scaling to solve the mental health crisis as well.

[00:15:06.468] Kent Bye: So yeah, you mentioned to me earlier that you had actually helped prevent people from committing suicide, which is, for me, it feels like a level of crisis intervention, even though you said that you're not explicitly doing crisis intervention. I'd love to hear a little bit more elaboration of some of these stories and anecdotes of how you've been able to really help people.

[00:15:25.213] Noah Robinson: Yeah, so we have a crisis of suicide. You know, in the US alone last year, 50,000 people took their own life. And it's a serious problem. And it's a question ethically of if we have folks coming to our platform, our goal is to teach evidence-based tools like reframing your thoughts, trying new behaviors, things like behavioral activation to overcome depression. But some folks aren't necessarily able to make it to that point of using those tools. Some people need a higher level of care and we do refer folks to higher levels of care and encourage them to seek that. But it's also inevitable that we will have people come in who are in crisis and report that they're in crisis and we can't just ignore them like it's an important thing. So we have a 24-7 supervision system and part of that system is that we have a paging system that can page someone like myself to come in and handle and help the guide, the lay facilitator, you know the facilitators we train to help that person in the situation. And just recently we had someone who is transgender male to female and she was struggling and she said that she was actually on her iPhone walking along the road near traffic and said that she was thinking about walking in front of traffic to end her own life. And our guide was absolutely incredible. They took this person to a private space away from the group because it can be traumatizing, by the way, for a group to hear that and other members in the group to try to help that person. And so they got them to a gas station to walk inside the gas station away from the traffic, which was absolutely incredible. And this person didn't want to go to the emergency room because she couldn't afford it. She was stuck, you know. And so I came in and talked to her. And, you know, we don't know where people live, but I actually asked her. Like, where are you? Can you tell me exactly where you are? What gas station are you at? And I called the crisis mobile response unit in that area on my own phone, you know, and it explained the situation. The person on the phone had no idea what I was talking about when I said, I'm like in a virtual world. It was a very difficult thing to explain to someone. But then her dad showed up and he didn't want to take her to the emergency room. But I said, can I talk to your dad? It was like her avatar, like her phone, but I was just like talking to her dad. I was like, I explained who I was and my role within her world. And I was like, you need to bring her to the hospital immediately because she's in danger and you could lose her. And he did. And then we didn't hear back and we didn't know what happened. And that's a whole other thing of, you know, what happens when you have a situation like this, you don't know. But a week later, she came back in and she wanted to talk to me and she pulled me aside and she said that I saved her life and that she was going to end her own life and that she didn't. And that being in that inpatient unit, where she was was a beautiful, empowering experience that helped her gain perspective about the fact that this is her life and that she can live it as she wants. And it helped her dad, you know, recognize the severity of the situation of accepting her for who she is. It's helping them move forward. And now we are exploring working with transgender folks who are having a special group for them in adolescence as well, experiencing so much trauma right now, a lot of folks. And this person wants to become a guide. Like that's the scalability of the mental health crisis. You know, this is like people can not only not be a statistic, but they can deliver care. and stop other people from harming themselves. And that's like, that's the only way that we can do this. You know, AI is not going to solve it. You know, the thing that makes therapy effective is the human connection. It is that part. And so we have to figure out how to scale that. And then that's one person. I had another person a week earlier who wanted to talk to me. I brought her to our one-on-one area and she told me that Interworld saved her life. And she had lost her child, her toddler, suddenly and had PTSD from it. And she said she couldn't seek a therapist because she was going to be placed on desk duty. Because she was in first responder or military situation where she couldn't seek help without being reprimanded or losing, you know, affecting her job. and she was going to end her own life and she found inner world and came in and learned the tools and she said it saved her life it gave her hope and helped her you know realize that she can seek help and things like that so yeah those are i mean that's just two stories we have hundreds of people who have stories like this that are just so incredible and powerful, and I'm grateful we're sitting here at MetaConnect. Meta definitely took a chance on allowing us on the store. I mean, there's definitely, it's a risky thing we're doing. There's all these kinds of concerns, but I think they saw the potential of the technology to really help people and transform lives, and that's why they supported us. A lot of the wellness apps are like meditation, and we do meditation. But meditation is not going to stop someone from harming themselves. It's not going to help them leave their house for the first time or overcome depression or overcome their social anxiety. We need the science-based tools that scaffold on top of meditation. Meditation helps you be present, which is really important for people. It's like a bicep curl, practicing that, being present, getting out of your thoughts. But then we need to teach tools on top of that to help people overcome their mental health issues. And that's what we're doing in Innerworld.

[00:20:48.349] Kent Bye: Yeah, there's a very interesting dynamic of this place because it's got this Alcoholics Anonymous aspect where it is anonymous in a way, but you're also potentially having people cultivate relationships or social graph dynamics where they've solely learned more about people. Has there been a rising of these tension of running a social VR platform that's intended to be anonymous, but yet having the impulse of having social networks that want to develop into a de-anonymized social network? And how do you deal with that?

[00:21:22.714] Noah Robinson: I know you spent a long time thinking about ethics and XR and stuff like that, and I can tell because no one's ever keyed in that quickly on that issue. That has been a huge thing for us. How do we handle off-platform interactions? Our guides are people who are getting help from the community, form bonds with folks, and then become a guide. In therapy, there's this thing about dual relationships. Therapists have power over their clients, and it's important for therapists not to have another type of relationship with the client, like a friendship, because it's not a true, like equal peer interaction because the therapist has influence over that person. So these are all ethical questions that we're exploring. And we're in uncharted territory for a lot of this. I have advisors. We have clinical psychologists from Harvard and other organizations who've created large peer support communities. This is uncharted territory. There's not a standard for how to handle this. We've gone back and forth. You know, our number one goal is do no harm. And so we are now encouraging folks not to engage in off-platform interactions, because what happens is that folks can inadvertently end up in a situation where they're, let's say they go play a game with someone else, but what if that person becomes in crisis? Or other kinds of situations where someone invites someone to a situation, another Discord server, and then there's drama that happens on the Discord server, but we're not moderating that experience. So we're really encouraging our folks to keep their interactions on platform. And you know, if folks really want to connect, that's possible, but we do hold our guides, you know, the people delivering the services to another standard and we do not allow them to have off platform interactions. There are some exceptions, like if someone knew someone before they came in and all these other kinds of, there's small exceptions, but in general, we really need to keep that separation. But people do, I mean, people are sharing the most vulnerable things about themselves in these groups and they form incredibly meaningful connections. So, it's a process and we're developing our rules with our community. Yeah, that's the main thing. It's like a lot of interventions in the history of psychology have been developed by doctors who are like top down. You know, if you think about Freud or things like that, who had these prescriptive frameworks that they say, you know, are this is the way it is. And then at least all this stuff. But we're really doing it from the ground up with the community and the community is a living, growing thing. And so we want to interact with them and let them help guide what we're doing as well. So there's not a clear answer, but I'm also hosting a panel a conference for behavioral cognitive therapy on this question of like the ethical implications of doing quote-unquote therapy in quotes without the therapist and there's a lot of different ethical considerations about that so yeah

[00:24:03.576] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, you're certainly on the frontiers of helping to cultivate all these new dynamics in the context of these relational dynamics that are usually in the context of like a therapist, but in this group therapy. So yeah, I'm sure that there's existing precedents for things like Alcoholics Anonymous or other communities that have physical analog issues and physical reality that I'm sure that there's some best practices there. But I guess as you are moving forward and continuing to devolve the platform, When we last talked and I had a chance to dive in, there was lots of different instructional cards that describe different aspects of cognitive behavioral immersion that you have. And then you have different recordings and other things. I'm curious, what kind of technological innovations have you been able to do for shipping new features, whether it's new worlds, or if it's just a matter of building out the community and it's been more on the human resources side rather than technological development? Yeah, I'd love to hear any kind of reflections on some of the different advancements you've been able to make to the platform since last time we chatted.

[00:25:04.865] Noah Robinson: Yeah, so we've actually developed more courses. So we have a kind of serialized eight-session intervention for depression. That's going to be the focus of the randomized control trial, where you get to meet with the same group every week and kind of learn these specific tools. So that's a big one. From a technological perspective, I mean, the most important thing is the quality of the voice chat, the reliability, the networking, and I'm really proud of our engineering team and our CTO, Callum, who's led that effort, and it's very reliable. I've gone to interworld meetings on a plane with a VSAC connection or in the mountains when I couldn't even FaceTime someone or call them. So we have a reliable framework there. And then a lot of it's kind of the basic stuff that any app is dealing with. First-time user experience, converting users, like adding a guest login so that people can get in easily. We don't allow people to log in with meta accounts or anything, but, you know, we have like a separate account system. But just all the kind of things that a typical startup would be dealing with. Customer acquisition, letting people know about it. Jewel has joined, the singer-songwriter Jewel has joined Interworld as a co-founder and so she's been Huge in helping us to get awareness out helping and she's also a chief strategy officer So thinking about our business strategy scalability things like that yeah, and that's been you know kind of our main focus just scaling growing training the trainers and Trying to collect the evidence at the same time to show that what we're doing is working so that more people can access it ultimately How did jewel come across your project? She was actually involved with mental health peer support for 22 years with the adolescent foundation that she has called the Inspiring Children Foundation. And we are actually partnering with them to scale. She has peer-based tools that she developed. She went through her own mental health journey as an adolescent and overcame a lot through developing her own tools. And she has an incredible book called Never Broken that I highly recommend reading. And, you know, she was already doing this and she wanted to scale it and thought virtual reality technology would be incredible for that. And she did her due diligence and thought she was the first one to think of that. And she found Innerworld and approached me and we started talking and it felt like kismet. It was incredible. I couldn't believe that we were on the same path and journey. And every time we talk, You know, I mean, we talk weekly now and every time we talk, it's just completely on the same wavelength. And it's been huge for us because we're a startup, you know, we need to fundraise, we need partnerships, all that stuff. And she's, you know, on the ground, like working to help all of that happen. So we're very fortunate to have her helping us and rooting for us and bringing her brilliant business strategy as well to the company.

[00:27:37.272] Kent Bye: What was that like to get that inbound inquiry from Jewel?

[00:27:40.894] Noah Robinson: Well, it came through her people. And I ignored the first email. I was like, what? I get a lot of inbound stuff. And I was just like, eh. But they were persistent. And Jewel's a go-getter. If she wants to meet someone or have something happen, she makes it happen. So yeah. And then how it worked, yeah. I talked to the co-founder of the foundation, Ryan Wolfington, who's incredible. He's been helping to build that foundation with her. And then I did two things. I visited the foundation, and I also met Jewel in person. When I visited the foundation, I met adolescents who had been kicked out of the leading inpatient psychiatric programs in the country because they had not been successfully treated there, had attempted suicide multiple times, and they were thriving in this peer-based program because they were learning these tools in a different way. Again, not the top-down approach, but a peer-based approach. And then I also met Jewel, and it was just The energy was just so incredible, you know. One thing that happened when I met the kids at the foundation, we were sitting around a table and I showed them in a world a campfire scene of people going around at a check-in meeting and they started crying because it was exactly how they do things in the foundation. It was just, it was crazy. It was exactly this overlap, alignment. So it's very unusual, that approach. So we were, you know, very excited to scale that together.

[00:29:02.172] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, lots of great stories that are coming out of Innerworld. Really glad to have a chance to catch up with you here. And yeah, I guess as we start to wrap up, I'm curious what you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality might be and what it might be able to enable.

[00:29:16.597] Noah Robinson: Yeah, so I'm very excited about generative AI. Obviously, everyone is thinking about it. Mark Zuckerberg talked about it at the conference and things. It's interesting. So I think generative AI, I don't think, can replace human connection. And what accounts for the majority of outcome in therapy is called nonspecific effects, which is just like the things that are difficult to measure, that relationship between a therapist and a patient, where you have a trusting, empathetic thing that you can disclose things to the therapist and things. So that accounts for the majority of outcome in therapy, and I don't think we're going to replace the human connection But I think generative AI is going to enhance virtual experiences to help them be safe Supervise them to be you know to embody these different agents that they showed today at medic connect, but also at other places, and I think we're eventually going to get to a place where you can just describe a world and a scene and go to it and have that session that you need. And it's just going to be absolutely incredible. So I'm really excited for it. And I'm also excited for the future of Innerworld, because I think as we scale to help more people, I think it's a true way that we can actually solve the mental health crisis.

[00:30:30.317] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?

[00:30:35.470] Noah Robinson: I think it's important to remember that we're all on this journey together. And, you know, the Quest 3 and the Apple Vision Pro and all these other headsets are really just the beginning. Wherever we are, I always say, like, this is the Pong version of what will become, like, an Xbox game, you know, the realism and stuff. So I'm excited that Meta's hosting MetaConnect. I hope this continues to happen and that the community can continue to come together and, you know, lift each other up. Because it doesn't matter if we're going to have a trough of disillusionment. Like, there's people out there with headsets who are not giving them up. That number is only growing. So it's a community that's growing. MR is going to get into the mix. And yeah, we just need to all stick together as we navigate this brand new space.

[00:31:18.532] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, no, it was great to get a bit of an update of what's happening there at Interworld VR. And yeah, just really lots of great work that's happening there. And I'm actually really excited to see where these studies that you got funding to do, what kind of information you get out of that, and also the impact of having the existing studies published and starting to have this evidence-based research help to drive the power of virtual reality as a potential medium for folks to have these different types of interventions. Yeah, a whole new model that can actually scale to solve a lot of these big issues that we have in this mental health area. So yeah, thanks again for joining me here to share all the latest news and where things might be going here in the future. So thank you.

[00:31:57.374] Noah Robinson: Thank you, Ken.

[00:31:59.268] Kent Bye: So thanks again for tuning in to one of my dozen episodes about MetaConnect. There's lots that I've been unpacking throughout the course of the series, and I'm going to invite folks over to patreon.com to be able to join in to support my work that I've been doing here as an independent journalist trying to sustain this work. Realistically, I need to be at around $4,000 a month to be at a level of financial stability. I'm at around 30% of that goal. So I'd love for folks to be able to join in and I'm hoping to expand out different offerings and events over the next year, starting with more unpacking of my coverage from Venice Immersive, where I've just posted 34 different interviews from over 30 hours of coverage. And I've already given a talk this week unpacking a little bit more my ideas about experiential design and immersive storytelling. And yeah, I feel like there's a need for independent journalism and independent research and just the type of coverage that I'm able to do. And if you're able to join in on the Patreon, $5 a month is a great level to be able to help support and sustain it. But if you can afford more than $10, $20, $50, or even $100 a month are all great levels as well. And will help me to continue to bring not only you this coverage, but also the broader XR industry. I now have transcripts on all the different interviews on the podcast on Voices of VR and in the process of adding categories as well into 1,317 interviews now that have been published after this series has concluded. So yeah, join me over on Patreon and we can start to explore the many different potentialities of virtual and augmented and mixed reality at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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