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Psychedelic Capital Technologies Panel: Virtual Reality and Personalized Dosing

Microdose Psychedelic Insights hosted the latest iteration of its Psychedelic Capital event series last Wednesday. Introduced by Microdose CEO Patrick Moher and Richard Skaife, co-founder of the Conscious Fund, the conference began with a quick recap of industry news related to capital markets, including ATAI’s long-awaited IPO, and all time stock price highs for Cybin.

Skaife also confirmed the dates for Microdose’s first live conference, dubbed Wonderland, which will be held from November 7-9 in Miami, adding that the venue would hopefully be finalized by mid-July.

Technology’s role in the expanding psychedelic space has been a frequent topic of discussion for us here at Truffle Report, and we’ve made an effort in the past to cover more than one side of the subject. From the broadly accessible perspectives of general wellness or personal optimization that are drawing many people to practices such as microdosing today, technological adjuncts in the form of apps or coaching services may be useful. They may also be superfluous to what many believe should be a naturalistic experience. 

A greater consensus seems (to us anyway) to exist around the potential benefit of more medicalized roles such as interfaces for AI, neuroscience, and telemedicine platforms.

It’s hardly a surprise, given the common flows of capital and many of the executive career trajectories in question, that the two spaces should try to find profitable common ground, and it’s with that in mind that we attended PsyCap’s latest technology panel covering virtual reality experiences and personalized dosing to see just what the industry was working on bringing to bear.

Moderated by Skaife, the panel featured Tesla La Touche, CEO of Aphrodite Health (discussed in our previous PsyCap coverage), Robin Arnott, CEO of Andromeda Entertainment and creator of the technodelic video game SoundSelf, and Filmmaker/Futurist Brett Leonard, currently involved with Virtual Psychedelics Incorporated, a company creating virtual experience to go hand-in-hand with clinical therapeutic aspects in psychedelic therapy.

Jumping right in, Skaife asked the panellists to outline some of the many areas of technology coming into play, and some “of the consumer facing propositions you’re building out.”

Leonard was first to respond, saying that “VPI has a joint venture with Lobe Sciences to create what we call the Chrysalis pod, which is a device for therapeutic and clinical environments to deliver virtual experience therapeutic virtual experience in concert with psychedelic therapy in a device that doesn’t have to have you strap a box on your head.” He went on to say that this vision was possible because of dynamic advances in display technology, loosely comparing the experience to a Star Trek holodeck. 

“Immersive display technology, immersive sound technology, the kind of work that Robin’s doing, all of these things are sort of converging right now,” he said, “so we’re trying to codify that together in the Chrysalis pod project. We’re also in discussions with many different therapeutic organizations to do virtual experience in concert with their particular area of psychedelic therapy, whether it be MDMA, psilocybin, or ketamine, or any or all of the above.”

Arnott offered that it was no coincidence that psychedelics and virtual reality were experiencing such a boost simultaneously. “It’s not surprising at all because what we’re looking at here is experiential therapy. Psychedelic therapy is a kind of experiential therapy which is currently rising into the mainstream at the same time as experiential technologies like virtual reality.”

Moving on, Skaife asked La Touche what role she saw for personalized medicine in the future of psychedelics.

“What we’re doing in our approach to novel drug discovery at Aphrodite Health in the psychedelic medicine space is really levelling up the quality of the research in this space by  looking at new ways to invite research design, while focusing on a personalized health care approach.”

“That includes the radical changes that everybody wants to see, looking at your metabolomics and how you transcribe your genetics. I think there’s so much here that you know we can bake into an ecosystem of players in the psychedelic medicine space to really experience and navigate a solutions-based template. Our networks can demonstrate what best practices and best ideas can look like in an incubated, accelerated setting. I’m proposing that Canada actually is the perfect environment for looking at clinical adoption models like this that immerses positions in the education around all of this and then looks at innovations in funding to be able to create the conditions for access and equity and overall funding for the end-users.”

Skaife then asked Arnott what role he saw for his product in the delivery of psychedelic therapy.

“Our product is voice driven,” Arnott began. “This is something that in virtual reality is so essential to bringing a person into an actual therapeutic experience. Most traditional video games use your thumbs and your eyes. They’re not engaging your breath, your full body, and so everything that we’re looking at and everything that I think is going to have a serious therapeutic impact. We create a feedback loop with your voice that resonates with all the music that’s coming. There’s this dynamic music that resonates with your voice. We used to use virtual reality and have visuals respond to your voice. Now we’re using strobe lights that will change their strobe weight, their color, etc., depending on what you’re doing with your voice.”

“All of this feels like you’re working with an intelligence,” he continued, “and after a few minutes of play, people very organically lose a sense of themselves as being something separate from everything they’re seeing, hearing, and experiencing, which is why it’s so powerful therapeutically and for many people it gives them their first, non-dual state of consciousness which is great for psychedelic preparation. We’ve been working on this for 10 years and it’s extremely synchronistic timing that it’s at the place it is right now, just in time to support the psychedelic renaissance.”

“I know a lot of people who believe that ultimately these technologies are going to replace psychedelics. I hope that doesn’t happen. I think it’s most valuable before and after the psychedelic journey. Also, you have to remember that classical psychedelics are intelligent beings that we’ve had relationships with for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, and I don’t think any technology is ever going to replace that. However, we can certainly use immersive technologies and experiences and so on to prepare a person for that experience and help them integrate, and perhaps to amplify the experience.”

Other panels at this month’s PsyCap included company presentations by Negev Capital, a psychedelic medical investment fund, Gwella, producers of functional mushroom and legal microdose products, and Return Health. The Giving Back panel focused on nonprofit and activist efforts within the space.

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