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ATU569 – Habilup from Ubique Tech with Hassan Lahlou

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:
Hassan Lahlou – Manager of UBIQUE Tech
https://ubique-site.com/en/
www.ubiquetech.fr

You can also find check them out on Youtube, Twitter, TikTok

INDATA Full Day Trainings: https://www.eastersealstech.com/our-services/fulldaytraining/

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If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email tech@eastersealscrossroads.org
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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Hassan Lahlou:
Hi, this is Hassan Lahlou and I’m the manager of UBIQUE Tech in France. And this is your assistive technology updates.

Speaker 2:
Hello, and welcome to your assistive technology update. A weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs.

Speaker 2:
I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 569 of assistive technology update. It’s scheduled to be released on April 22nd, 2022.

Speaker 2:
On today’s show, we’re very excited to welcome the sign from UBIQUE Tech to talk about HabilUp, and how it can help individuals with different rehabilitation needs, OT and PT, and to really change their range of motion. Don’t forget, we always love to get your input. So if you have a question, a comment or someone who’d make a great guest on our show, reach out to us. You can reach us by email at tech at Eastersealscrossroads.org. Call our listener line at (317) 721-7124 or hit us up on Twitter at INDATA Project.

Speaker 2:
Also don’t forget whatever service you’re using to listen to our podcast. Always give us a like, give us a comment on there as well. We always love to hear from our listeners. And again, this is your show. So let us know what you want on it, and we’ll make sure to do our best to get that going. But for now, let’s go ahead and get it on with the show.

Speaker 2:
Hoping some of you were able to join us yesterday via Zoom for our full day training presented by INDATA, on AT and transitioning from high school. If you would ever like to attend one of our full day trainings, which are all online right now, but hopefully going back to in person next year. Or if you would like to watch one of our old full day trainings, we have an archive. All those trainings, their materials and everything else available at Eastersealstech.com/fulldaytrainings.

Speaker 2:
I’ll put a link to this over in the show notes, but you can go back and watch any of them that you might like. To find information on things that you’re interested in, learn about AT, learn about different transitions, different populations that it can help, and anything else that you might like. So remember if you ever do one to attend one of our full day trainings, or if you’d like to check out the archives, go to Eastersealstech.com/fulldaytrainings and check them out.

Speaker 2:
Maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. Well make sure to check out our sister podcast, Accessibility Minute, and AT FAQ, or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one minute long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something assistive technology based so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fix without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo, this show comes out weekly. Our show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or AT FAQ.

Speaker 2:
On Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of… Mm, experts? Including myself Belva Smith and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you, so we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions.

Speaker 2:
So remember if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcasts to check out, you can check out our sister shows Accessibility Minute, and AT FAQ wherever you get your podcast now, including Spotify and Amazon music.

Speaker 2:
Listeners, any kind of rehabilitation, physical therapy or other kind of repetitive therapy is, by nature, just not very fun. I’ve always been told if you don’t hate your physical therapist and curse them under your breath, you’re really not doing the work they’re demanding of you. Well, our guest today is from UBIQUE Tech, and he’s here to tell us about how they’re working to make motor rehabilitation fun. That’s right. I use the word fun. Well, Hassan, welcome to the show.

Hassan Lahlou:
Thank you. Thank you, Josh for the invitation. So first of all, we decided to create UBIQUE Tech to facilitate this motor rehabilitation for all people that need to be rehabilitation during long period of time during their life. And we started by creating, designing device for children with cerebral palsy. We know that cerebral palsy is the first cause of motor disability for children. And while visiting a center, my cousin was basically doing rehabilitation. He has cerebral palsy and he was repeating his movements. And I was seeing in his face that it was a bit annoyed and didn’t really understand the objective of that movement. So what we try to do with UBIQUE Tech, is to first bring joy in this rehabilitation and then bring a meaning for those children who are doing rehabilitation. And through games, we could bring those two things in the same time.

Hassan Lahlou:
So we all know that children love to play games. When we let a child alone, we always find him playing at something. So this is why we choose to use games to bring joy in this rehabilitation. And the meaning basically of rehabilitation has been brought thanks to all the objectives in the games that we put. And we know that children like a competition between them. They like to succeed in the games they are playing and so on. So we put some objectives on each games to encourage those children, to pursue the rehabilitation through those games, to reach their best levels, and then basically improve their motor ability. Then we started developing games for adults as well and elderly, since we also, as adults, love games. It works for us and helps us in learning things such as new movements or learning back movements we knew before.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And in order to kind of be able to do this rehabilitation by playing the games, you guys have a device called the HabilUp. Can you tell us about that?

Hassan Lahlou:
Yes. So HabilUp is our second device. We started with UBI Kits at the beginning. So it was a device only for children. And it was also a concept at the beginning since we tested and learned it a lot with clinics, hospitals, and families that have children with cerebral palsy, and we capitalized on that experience since we created UBI Kits back in 2018. And we capitalized on all this experience to create in 2022 HabilUp, which is a device adapted to both children and adults and all kind of disabilities, motor disabilities. So we have several games that adapt to the pathologies of the patients.

Josh Anderson:
Mm.

Hassan Lahlou:
So HabilUp is a hardware and a software. So the hardware is this. So basically you have a little backing here. So you have the sensors here with the charger bracelets, and basically you put the two sensors at the extremities of the joints you want to rehabilitate.

Josh Anderson:
Mm.

Hassan Lahlou:
And on top of that, you have the software. It’s a mobile app that you can use on all iOS or Android devices, where you’ll find games and several movements that are usually used for motor rehabilitation. On top of this, there is a second software, which is an app for the therapists that helps them to do two things. The first thing is to make the prescription of exercises to their children remotely or agents as well to all their patients. And the second thing is to pursue the progression, thanks to all the data that come from the same source in the app and present it in wood dashboard, beautiful dashboards with graphics and so on.

Josh Anderson:
Nice. I can see how that can be helpful for not just the user, but for the therapist to have all that information and all that data.

Hassan Lahlou:
Exactly, exactly. Basically the game is to bring joy and make rehabilitation fun for the patients. And the data will be used to improve the progression of the patients to make the progression quicker, more efficient, thanks to the observations of the therapists on the data, but also of the doctors, because we all know that therapies and doctors work together in the case of pathologies like cerebral palsy. And then thanks to those observations, they can adapt the therapies, they can recommend some surgeries and so on.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. I want to dig a little bit deeper into the games. What are the games like? What’s available? What kinds of games are there? And I guess just kind of how do they work along with the hardware to get the individuals to where they need to be?

Hassan Lahlou:
So basically at the beginning, we just went through a bank of games that are usually loved by children and try to make them accessible to children with cerebral palsy. And at the end of the day, we started developing new games from scratch with the therapists, depending on their needs, their specific needs. All the therapists or a big part of the therapists are already using games in their therapy, okay? And what we’re doing now with UBIK, is that we’re making those same games digital, and making them accessible to everybody remotely. So a lot of therapists have batch of good ideas of games and they’re still using it, but only in their own clinics. So we’re just taking the best ideas, game ideas, digitalize them into our app, and then providing them to all our users to make the museum the best games for rehabilitation.

Josh Anderson:
Hassan, can you tell me a story of about someone who’s kind of used the technology, the games or anything, and kind of their experience or kind of how it helped them along with their rehabilitation?

Hassan Lahlou:
I have two beautiful stories to tell you, because the two are so beautiful so I cannot miss one of them. The first one is at the beginnings of UBIK. It was a children, his name is Arthur. He’s now 10 years old, or 10 and a half. He was eight years old back in 2019, beginning of 2019. And he had a little dream that was playing one day the Nintendo Switch. So there are sensors, Nintendo Switch, and he needs to move. And in the same time interact with the screen and the games, but because of his hemiparesis, he couldn’t do it. Even if we customized remote. So he started using HabilUp at the beginning of 2019 in January. And he was expecting to learn how to play at video games, thanks to it. So he used HabilUp alone at home and with his therapists in the clinic during eight to nine months.

Hassan Lahlou:
And he started really feeling well, playing at games with sensors and his parents decided to buy for him the Nintendo switch for the following Christmas of 2019. And so it was a bet because they didn’t, they wasn’t sure that he could use it. And then the day they offered the game, they just installed it and gave him the remotes. And he just started playing successfully. And the joy was just incredible because Arthur, at the beginning of 2019, couldn’t play at all at the Nintendo Switch and he was dreaming about it.

Josh Anderson:
Wow.

Hassan Lahlou:
He couldn’t coordinate correctly his movements with the screen. Several things that he improved thanks to HabilUp and then he could use the Nintendo Switch alone. So this is a [crosstalk 00:13:10]…

Josh Anderson:
Nice.

Hassan Lahlou:
Very good story that show how we could bring the joy in the life of this child. Second story, it’s more about a clinical success. Where is HabilUp since 2018 in a rehabilitation center in France in Paris. It’s a rehabilitation center that hosts only children with cerebral palsy between six and 18 years.

Hassan Lahlou:
And we started working with the chief coordinator of the therapists there. And he started doing every Tuesdays after HabilUp rehabilitation session with the physiotherapist and occupational therapist and children. So one of the children, his name is Lessandro. When I met him in 2018 and asked him to move his ankle, he couldn’t move it, he was moving all his leg. Okay? He couldn’t control, he couldn’t move his ankle at all. So he started doing those HabilUp sessions. And the thing is that with HabilUp, you can see directly the feedback of your movement, thanks to the games.

Josh Anderson:
Mm.

Hassan Lahlou:
Basically when you record the movement and then you start playing at the game. As soon as you do the movement you record it, even if you don’t feel that you’re doing it, you can see a feedback on the screen.

Hassan Lahlou:
And then you know that you did the movement. Okay?

Josh Anderson:
I see.

Hassan Lahlou:
So since we placed the sensors in the ankle and nothing were moving, but only his ankles, and he saw the feedback on the screen, the little child just understood that he could move his ankle. And something happened is his brain, I don’t know what happened, but one year later… So he did every Tuesday, those rehabilitation sessions with HabilUp, so seeing the feedback of the game after his movement. We asked him to move his ankle, and he succeeded in moving the ankle independently. Alone, alone. And with control. And this was for me the biggest success of UBIQUE Tech, enabling a child to control a part of his body alone with autonomy. This is for me something incredible.

Josh Anderson:
No, it really is. And I like how you brought up getting that feedback automatically because yeah, you may not see the movement or you might not know which… Oh, I guess conscious thing you’re doing to get that to move. But if you get that feedback automatically, it’s probably a whole lot easier to replicate.

Hassan Lahlou:
Exactly.

Josh Anderson:
Very, very cool. Well, Hassan, I realize that we jumped into talking about the technology and I didn’t even give our listeners a chance to learn anything about you. So tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hassan Lahlou:
So my name is Hassan. I was born and raised in Morocco, in Africa, in the north of Africa. Where the number of disabled people is really big because of some cultural habits here. There are a lot of weddings between inside the families. And we know in signs that when there are a lot of marriages inside of the families, the children that are born are disabled, unfortunately. So I saw a lot of disability is in my home country. And then after the eighth grade, so when I was 18 years old, I went to France to pursue my studies. So I studied engineering there, and then I studied strategy. And I remember my thesis was about social impact in entrepreneurship. Basically my aim at the end of my studies was to either create a company or participate in projects that could be socially impactful.

Hassan Lahlou:
And this is how I met my co-founder, which is a bright engineer who developed those sensors and those games. Basically, he designed this technology to enable those children to play at those games and to improve their abilities. So we started like this at the beginning with children and our aim was really impact oriented. But one day we started facing, and we knew that it will come, some financial problems.

Hassan Lahlou:
And this is how I brought all the things I learned during my academics to try to bring funds here from social investors in the company to be during all the life of the company in phase with our vision, which is social, and never puts the financial incomes ahead of the social impact. And this is why today we are still surviving. It’s been four years that we’re existing. There are not a lot of startups in medical devices for this in a niche because we started with cerebral palsy and then growing to other pathologies. Yeah. So I think that this is because the decisions we made to always keep social impact people in the team, around the team, to stay with us until we achieve our first objective to change lives of millions of disabled people, starting by children with cerebral palsy. And then with all people that need to do rehabilitation in a long term period of time.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. Yeah, you got to keep that mission first and then that everything else hopefully can survive until you can get there and actually get that done. Well, Hassan, what’s next? I know that HabilUp is pretty new, but what’s kind of next or where do you see you’ll be going in the future?

Hassan Lahlou:
So HabilUp is aimed to be a medical device. And I never made a medical device before. So we needed those four years to approve the efficiency of this device first for us and for people that are surrounding us and our users. Now, we are sure that there is an impact when we use HabilUp, but we need to prove it clinically with scientific proofs. So this is why we’re currently preparing a clinical study with a big university hospital in France and two rehabilitation centers for children with cerebral palsy. And the aim of this clinical study will be to prove three things around three parameters. The first thing we’re going to prove that HabilUp helps to increase the number of repetitions of their rehabilitation movement during a session. Basically, thanks to the games, the patient will repeat more his movement because it will be motivated by the game.

Hassan Lahlou:
So this is the first thing we’re going to prove. We already proved it during pre studies, but now we’re going to prove it during an official clinical study with a publication at the end. The second thing we’re going to prove is the improvement of the range of movement of the wrist, the elbow, and the ankle.

Josh Anderson:
Okay.

Hassan Lahlou:
So basically for children, with cerebral palsy at the beginning, and then we’re going to prove it for other pathologies.

Josh Anderson:
Nice.

Hassan Lahlou:
The third… So regarding the range of movement, basically, we already proved it basically with… I refer to the story of Lessandro, I told you who couldn’t move his ankle at the beginning, at the end of the day could move his ankle. So this is how we decided to prove this impact on the range of movement. And the third thing is regarding the pain that is felt during the rehabilitation.

Hassan Lahlou:
Thanks to nowadays there have been a lot of studies regarding the impact of the VR on the pain feeling. Okay?

Josh Anderson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Hassan Lahlou:
But in the VR, there are always games, 3D models with which we interact and so on. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to prove that the video games with VR or without VR helps patients to feel less the pain during the exercise, because they are more focused on the game they’re playing at and the objectives they want to reach, rather than the movement they’re doing at that time. So we already had a lot of feedbacks from that, quantitative feedbacks, that showed that it works to make clinical study, prove that we make the pain lower thanks to HabilUp. So these are the three things we’re going to prove through our clinical studies. So this is the first important step we need to achieve in the future.

Hassan Lahlou:
And in parallel with this, we’re looking for clinical partners in other countries, but the first one is the USA because is the main country where we would like to develop, because it is the biggest market. And also the one where we will be able to experiment our device in homogenous way, because the regimentation is the same in all the country, almost the same. The insurances work in several states in the same country. So we will be able to work with high volume of people and then get a maximum of data and improve and use them. And then being able to improve the maximum, the condition of those disabled people. The second step, and the third step is to have our office in the US with a team in the US, an indicated team in US. And starting developing new devices for children with cerebral palsy in collaboration with big universities in the US, and also hospitals.

Hassan Lahlou:
There is something which is quite important to us. I didn’t say it. We do our best to make this device the most affordable possible. Basically we want to enable every patient to do his rehabilitation, either at home or in a clinic, even if they don’t have means for it. So this is why we work during three years in research to find the best components to use to make the cheaper device. And I think that we succeeded in doing something really incredible because we have a device that have functionalities and enables patients to do stuffs equivalent to some devices that are really, really expensive. And that we can only find in big hospitals that are, let’s say, wealthy.

Josh Anderson:
Hassan, if our listeners want to find out more, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Hassan Lahlou:
So we have a website where we can find all the information about our technology. The website is www.ubiquetech.fr. I can spell it. U B I Q U E T E C H. And then you can find all the information about our device, the games, the movement that can be used in our device, the feedbacks from the therapists, the clinics, and the patient that have been using our device. We also have pages and the content on the five social medias from YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. So you just need to take UBIQUE Tech and you’ll find out our page and then see all the information about our device. And we also have a catalog that we can, if you want, share with you, and then you can share it with your community if needed.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. We’ll put that information down in the show notes. Well, Hassan, thank you so much for coming on today, talking about this great technology and how it can make… How just that rehabilitation and those repetitive motions, a little bit more enjoyable for the person actually doing them, but also it’s great that data can then be relayed onto to their treatment team. And really hopefully make them make better decisions and give folks just, oh, able to move better, quicker with a little bit more of actually enjoying it while they’re doing it.

Hassan Lahlou:
Yes. Thank you very much for this opportunity, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on an assistive technology update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project. Our captions in transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation or INTRAC. You can find out more about INTRAC at relayindiana.com.

Josh Anderson:
A special thanks to Nicole Preto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fought over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guest are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners, or this host.

Josh Anderson:
This was your assistive technology update, and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye, bye.

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