Manchester digital agency Corporation Pop news

Xploro helps children understand proton therapy

Xploro helps children understand proton therapy

The cat is out of the bag, Xploro’s first customer is one of Europe’s leading cancer centres, The Christie.

We’ve spent the last four years developing the new Xploro app which helps children and young people understand what’s happening to them when they’re being treated for cancer. It includes games based on the human body, 3D hospital environments for children to explore, and experiences so they know what’s going to happen while they’re being treated, all of which is delivered through a chirpy, augmented-reality character that the child creates, and names themselves. This character becomes their virtual friend, and leads them through every part of the app.

The internationally renowned cancer centre commissioned us to create a brand new module for Xploro which is to be used by children undergoing Proton Beam Therapy. The additional module includes environments modelled on the hospital itself and a 3D experience showing exactly what happens when someone has the pioneering treatment.

Our MD, Dom, was inspired to develop the Xploro app after seeing first hand the importance of giving children and young people age appropriate information when they’re being treated in hospital. In 2011 Dom’s thirteen year old daughter Issy was diagnosed with the rare bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma. The clinical care she received, in the six hospitals she was treated at, was second to none, however it became apparent that the information she received about her illness and treatment was severely lacking and it left her feeling scared, anxious and alone. It was this experience that led to Dom and the Corporation Pop team to come up with Xploro.

Research has shown that when people understand what is happening to them when they are ill and having treatment, they have better outcomes from that treatment; the Xploro app is designed to give them that knowledge and information in a fun, and engaging way.

The Christie is the first NHS hospital in the UK to introduce high-energy Proton Beam Therapy, an advanced radiotherapy treatment which precisely targets cancer without causing damage to healthy cells around it. Previously the NHS has funded expensive treatment in America and Germany causing huge disruption to families like Dom and Issy’s and costing many thousands of pounds more than having it here in the UK. Proton Beam Therapy is a particularly good treatment for youngsters whose bodies are still growing and changing which makes Xploro a great match for The Christie.

After trials at The Christie and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Xploro will be available for wider use when it will include an artificially intelligent chatbot which can answer any questions the child has about going to hospital. We are already in talks with hospitals around the UK, Europe and North America and the future for Xploro lies in its expansion. There are already plans to create versions for other illnesses such as Diabetes and Asthma as well as develop the app for older audiences. By next year Xploro will also be available in other languages.

Xploro: AXA Health Tech & You Awards finalist!

Xploro: AXA Health Tech & You Awards finalist!

We're delighted to announce that Xploro, our app that helps children overcome the anxiety associated with going in to hospital, is a Finalist in the prestigious AXA Health Tech & You Awards.

The AXA Health Tech & You Awards, now in their 5th year, celebrates technology solutions that address real and current health needs for individuals and their families. Xploro is one of three finalists in the 'Mental Health in Children' category. 

Xploro uses 3D augmented reality interactive models, an artificially intelligent Avatar Guide and a series of games to introduce young patients to hospital environments, staff and process. uses 3D augmented reality interactive models, an artificially intelligent Avatar Guide and a series of games to introduce young patients to hospital environments, staff and process. uses 3D augmented reality interactive models, an artificially intelligent Avatar Guide and a series of games to introduce young patients to hospital environments, staff and process. By putting health information in the hands of children, using language they understand and interaction paradigms that they are familiar with, we aim to reduce their stress and anxiety and improve their clinical outcomes. By reducing the fear associated with procedures we aim to reduce repeat procedures and shorten treatment times. Finally, by improving child health literacy we provide the foundations for a generation of patients better able to self-manage their healthcare. We’re starting with children with cancer, but we’re aiming to build a health information platform for any patient, of any age, with any condition, anywhere in the world.

Wish us luck for 22nd May 2019 when the winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 22nd May at The Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the City of London.

Funding for our Patient's Virtual Guide

Funding for our Patient's Virtual Guide

We're delighted to announce that we've just received funding from TITCH (Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health) which will enable us to work closely with the NHS on the development of our innovative 'Patient's Virtual Guide' mobile application. We're keeping details under wraps for now but the aim of the app is to help reduce the anxiety experienced by children when faced with a stay in hospital. 

The funding will allow us to develop some early stage prototypes and, in conjunction with our research partners Sutherland Labs, enable us to conduct user needs research and testing at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. This will really help reinforce our business case and provide a solid bedrock for us to then seek further funding to take the project to market.

More news on this as the project develops.

Two websites for Central Manchester University Hospitals

Two websites for Central Manchester University Hospitals

We’ve just launched two new websites for Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), one for fee-paying IVF services and the other to showcase their research and innovation departments. 

A new identity and website have been created to launch a fee-paying assisted conception service at Saint Mary’s Hospital. The website is aimed at patients for whom NHS funded IVF services are unavailable and provides an easy way for people to find information such as current pregnancy rates and treatment pathways. Our brand identity uses mathematically generated Fermat spirals – a pattern commonly found in plants and based on the golden section. The reference to science and nature is particularly apt given the highly technical yet life-giving work carried out at the hospital. 

We’ve also developed a website for CMFT’s Research and Innovation (R&I) Division, which aggregates content from six previous sites to provide accessible information about research across its eight hospitals and community services. The site provides unified search functionality and a consistent user experience while maintaining the individual identities of each research facility.

Our work with CMFT demonstrates two very different approaches to design. While the R&I brief required adherence to NHS guidelines, we could be more creative with Saint Mary’s as it had to compete with commercial IVF services and therefore look very different to a typical NHS site. The common thread is that both solutions are clean and contemporary with clear navigation. They have been optimised for a superior user experience as well as easy access across a range of devices.

We won the web design work through two separate pitches and competitive tenders at the end of 2014.

ProReal avatar therapy for young people

ProReal avatar therapy for young people

2015 is off to a flying start as we begin work on a major new contract win to develop ProReal’s 3D virtual environment software for avatar therapy with children and young people.

The ProReal software, which we first developed in 2012, enables a coach, therapist or counsellor to work with their clients to create a visual representation of a situation and their relationships. This can then be used to share ideas, identify problems and consider options for change. This new contract will allow us to extend the use of the software as a therapeutic tool for the treatment of people with mental health issues. 

We will be enhancing the existing landscape and adding new features and props to provide additional relevance to young people. We'll also add functionality to the user management system so that therapists can keep clinical records. A ‘guided self-help’ function will enable patients to use the software in their own time. A tablet version will also be developed and the desktop software will be re-architected to allow offline use in settings where internet use is restricted.

We're delighted to be working once again with user experience experts and long-term partner Sutherland Innovation Labs, who will be tasked with conducting user research which will inform our design decisions. We're also bringing in specialist security consultancy, JustASC, to advise on implementing security provisions that comply with NHS security standards. 

The brief is part of ProReal’s ‘avatar therapy for young people’ pilot, which has just been awarded £970,000 by NHS England’s Small Business Research Initiative Healthcare (SBRI Healthcare).Last year, together with ProReal, we successfully delivered a Phase 1 Feasibility Study (also funded by SBRI Healthcare) to evaluate the use of the software with offenders. 

ProReal Ltd, Chief Executive Andrew Jackson said: “This contract enables us to continue and accelerate the valuable work we started last year. The support and counsel we’ve received from SBRI Healthcare and MindTech has been invaluable enabling us to find solutions to unmet healthcare needs. We started working with Corporation Pop because of their virtual world expertise and we’re really excited to be further developing our relationship with them.”