Mansata Kurang – A virtual reality app using 360-degree videos and music to help dementia patients

VR Revival is an interactive virtual reality platform that uses 360-degree film and photos of familiar and peaceful scenes and audio to help dementia patients with reminiscence therapy.
This virtual reality application was created by Mansata Kurang, to help alleviate the depression and anxiety that comes with dementia.
A trained Mathematician and Creative Technologist, Mansata Kurang, 32, is a poet at heart. Born in Gambia, where she grew up, she moved to the UK to study Maths then Actuarial Science. She would work there for a time after graduating.

“We want to become the most effective provider of virtual reality experiences using 360° video therapy to help alleviate depression in dementia, especially in the BAME community.”

Thanks to the development of digital technologies and the introduction of the first virtual reality headsets to the general public, many ailments can now be treated using virtual reality. It is recommended in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including phobias but also generalized anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. It also helps with post-traumatic stress disorder. While virtual reality therapy is well established in Europe, it remains largely unknown in Africa. A reality Mansata hopes to change with VR Revival.

“VR REVIVAL is an interactive platform that provides dementia patients with a customized virtual reality experience, combining revitalizing, positive memories to create a sense of progressive happiness,” the young woman explains. “Things are looking up. We have set up a network of support in the UK and about to complete beta testing to launch this year. We’ve been incredibly lucky and very grateful to be supported by organisations like Foundervine, MSDUK, ColorinTech, FFWD, OneTech and Capital Entreprise. We are now fundraising and looking for companies to partner with or who want to help fund our mission to help alleviate anxiety and depression in dementia patients.”

This is only the beginning, as the start-up seeks to expand to the rest of Africa, and the whole world beyond.

“Did you know more than 50 million people in the world suffer from dementia? And that low- and middle-income countries will see a 63% increase in dementia by 2030? The possibilities of virtual reality are endless. In the US, leading proponents have proven its efficacy in the treatment of severe stuttering, rehabilitation after a stroke, phobia treatment and as a therapeutic option for burn victims and those who have undergone surgery. These problems are common place in Africa. We want to use our technology to help the most vulnerable among us.

We hope to become an inspiration in this 4th industrial revolution and fulfil our part on UN’s Global Goal number 3: Good Health and Well-Being.”

She attended the WIA Marrakech Summit, where her work was showcased. “I was very proud to be a part of Program 54 and to be able to represent my country of origin, Gambia, and VR Revival. We hope our technology will help address those problems in Africa and beyond, while encouraging more women to pursue careers as entrepreneurs.”

After WIA 54

After WIA 54, helped by the awareness she won, Mansata benefited several positive impacts:
– Top 10 People’s Champion and Top 100 Innovators in UK by Sunday Times and Maserati List 2019
– MSDUK Building Business Leaders of the future’ programme
– Techpreneurs Runner up Award for Women in Technology, House of Lords
– 2 page magazine feature with Urban Kapital, UK’s Intelligent Multi-Ethnic Magazine
– Selected one of top 30 start-ups by Worldlabs and exhibited at the Worldlabs Conference 2018
– Selected to participate in a 12-month TEDxJohannesburg, community-led mentorship program
– Interviewed by The Simon Tefula Show (https://youtu.be/OojnpjYfrbg)

Mansata also writes prose and poems she shares on social media, and is also committed to helping children unlock their creativity through her charity, Freestyle 4 Africa Foundation.  “My hope is to also help children grow with access to the arts and music to allow them to express their talent in all technological and artistic disciplines.”