Newswise — LOS ANGELES (Feb. 5, 2024) -- Cedars-Sinai clinicians and artificial intelligence experts have developed a new application that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of Apple Vision Pro to support patients’ mental health needs.

The application—called Xaia, for eXtended-Reality Artificially Intelligent Ally—expands access to mental health support for patients, furthering Cedars-Sinai’s mission to elevate the health of communities it serves in Los Angeles and beyond.

Cedars-Sinai investigators created Xaia as a way to offer patients self-administered, AI-enabled, conversational therapy in relaxing spatial environments such as a creek-side meadow or a sunny beach retreat where patients also can do deep-breathing exercises and meditation.

The Xaia application offers users an immersive therapy session led by a trained digital avatar, programmed to simulate a human therapist.

“Apple Vision Pro offers a gateway into Xaia’s world of immersive, interactive behavioral health support—making strides that I can only describe as a quantum leap beyond previous technologies,” said Brennan Spiegel, MD, MSHS, professor of Medicine, director of Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai and co-founder of the Xaia technology. “With Xaia and the stunning display in Apple Vision Pro, we are able to leverage every pixel of that remarkable resolution and the full spectrum of vivid colors to craft a form of immersive therapy that’s engaging and deeply personal.”

While developing the app for Apple Vision Pro, Spiegel said, his Cedars-Sinai team reimagined how spatial computing can support behavioral health and overall wellbeing in ways never before possible.

Omer Liran, MD, a psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai and co-founder of Xaia, says the app represents a transformative step in making quality therapy accessible to all.

“Apple Vision Pro has allowed us to create a platform where technology fades into the background and the user's healing journey comes to the forefront,” Liran said. “This application is a culmination of years of rigorous research, clinical expertise and a vision to democratize mental wellness in a way that respects the uniqueness of every individual's experience. Using the powerful capabilities of Vision Pro, we’re now able to bring this experience to life with its full potential.”

Before the launch of Apple Vision Pro, the Xaia technology was featured in a first-of-its-kind study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Digital Medicine. Findings from the study showed Xaia as both beneficial and safe for patient use.

To develop Xaia, Spiegel and Liran enlisted the support of Cedars-Sinai’s Technology Ventures—the enterprise that protects and supports the commercialization of discoveries and technologies. Technology Ventures also facilitates access to promising inventions—like Xaia—that improve the quality of life for patients around the world.

The managing director of Cedars-Sinai’s Technology Ventures, Nirdesh Gupta, PhD, said that ideas developed in an academic medical center environment like Cedars-Sinai offer a one-of-a-kind perspective—focused both on advancing research and expediting clinical care needs.

James Laur, JD, vice president of Intellectual Property at Cedars-Sinai, echoed that sentiment.

“The hospital ecosystem is at the heart of care delivery, and Cedars-Sinai has the unique advantage of being closest to the patients and their varying needs,” said Laur. “Xaia is the result of several years of support and funding, and we are elated to see the technology come to life in this meaningful and clinically relevant way.”

Conflicts of Interest: Spiegel and Liran are co-founders of VRx Health. The Xaia technology is exclusively licensed from Cedars-Sinai to VRx Health for commercialization.

Read more from the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Virtual Reality and the Brain-Body Connection

Journal Link: Nature Digital Medicine