Los Angeles-based TRIPP, which uses immersive technology and psychedelic imagery to boost mental wellness, announced a pre-seed investment and partnership with Equa Health, a mindfulness training app spun out of Carnegie Mellon University.
The pair will develop the extended reality (XR) platform’s first clinically-backed experiences for mindfulness training, with three sessions focusing on the core mindfulness skills: concentration power, equanimity and sensory clarity.
The partners will initially offer an intro series on TRIPP that will combine Equa Health’s clinical research in mindfulness with TRIPP’s experiential platform. Then, after gathering feedback from users, the pair will evaluate how to grow the series over time.
“David really took a scientific foundation, in a quantified manner, on the impact of mindfulness practice,” TRIPP cofounder and CEO Nanea Reeves told MobiHealthNews. “What I’m excited about is how to take those clinically validated approaches, and then apply the multiplier of immersion.”
Dr. David Creswell is a psychologist and the CEO of Equa Health. He also runs Carnegie Mellon University’s Health and Human Performance Lab, which explores social and health psychology, and studies stress and coping strategies, and interventions for resilience.
Creswell told MobiHealthNews his team has performed a number of trials comparing mindfulness training to other stress-management programs.
Three years ago, he and his team launched Equa Health, which offers the Lab’s mindfulness training via a mobile platform for commercial consumption.
After releasing the new mindfulness experiences, TRIPP and Equa Health plan to gather user feedback and translate that information into building clinical trials, looking at users’ mental health over time and analyzing potential use cases.
“We’re also looking at ways that we’re going to help you track your skills. So you’re going to potentially have data down the road to sort of see how you’re developing and get that feedback that you want,” Creswell said.
Reeves and Creswell noted their intention to apply for large grants in the future to target specific indications, but for now the focus is on creating mindfulness experiences offered within the TRIPP applications stack.
The plan is to get the experiences to TRIPP users soon, though no launch date has been set.
Reeves has a long history within the immersive technology and gaming industry. She was one of the original investors in Oculus before it was acquired by Meta.
In 2021, TRIPP scored $11 million in Series A funding, bringing its total raise to over $15 million. The company then acquired PsyAssist, a startup that creates digital tools to aid patients undergoing psychedelic treatment, and VR meditation community EvolVR.
Last year, TRIPP garnered $11.2 million in further Series A funding led by BITKRAFT Ventures, with participation from Qualcomm, Amazon Alexa Fund, HTC, Niantic and existing investor Mayfield. The round brought TRIPP’s total raise to $26.3 million. The company also announced its acquisition of world-building platform Eden.
TRIPP is now announcing its investment in Equa Health in its pre-seed funding stage, along with the partnership.
“We’ve made a few investments in other teams. And mostly it’s because it’s like-minded individuals who want to make a difference with their work. We want to support them as we get funding. We want to share and support. It’s kind of like paying it forward,” Reeves said.
Reeves had seen David’s name referenced in mindfulness research that she says was foundational for many of TRIPP’s design choices.
“I’ve always wanted TRIPP to be grounded in scientific research, even if it’s reading the research and having that influence our design choices in ways that might be beyond just what we know about building great experiences from working in the video game industry,” she said.
Launched in 2018, the Los Angeles-based digital wellness platform makes no claims as a medical intervention, Reeves said, but now the companies are “onto something really powerful” thanks to the partnership.
“What we’ve been showing now for almost 20 years is that there’s a real dose/response effect to the degree that people who are doing [mindfulness] practices are seeing benefits, and the bigger benefits they have are really a result of better engagement,” Creswell said.
The researchers noticed the biggest challenge and opportunity was around increasing engagement, which could then increase adherence.
The research team considered TRIPP to be a good tool to enhance interactivity, so Creswell found TRIPP’s general email address and reached out with an offer for the two entities to work together.
“You could think of the combination of our two companies coming together, and really, it’s more about the two teams coming together – the TRIPP team, really hardcore game developers and technologists that know how to build – and bringing that together with a validated approach that has some scientific rigor to it,” Reeves said. “The timing just seems right.”