– What is MIRA and how it was invented
– The clinical applications of MIRA
– The startup costs and success so far
– The challenges of creating med-tech software
– The pros and cons of gamification in the healthcare
MIRA is a software platform that turns physical therapy exercises into video games, making therapy easier to follow.
It asks patients to complete the recommended movements to progress through each game level and as a result, the patients are playing and also recovering. While they play, MIRA tracks in real time their progress and compliance.
It runs on Windows and uses the Microsoft Kinect device, which is a low-cost motion capture camera that can track the movement from a distance. The idea came about when a group of 4 software engineering students, including Cosmin, wanted to build something cool to participate at the Imagine Cup – A Microsoft software competition for IT students and the idea for Medical Interactive Recovery Assistant (MIRA) was born.
MIRA is built as a tool to allow the specialist to create tailor-made treatment plans. This system is being used with patients of various ages. It can be used for orthopedic conditions such as frozen shoulder and hip replacements, or even neurological ones like cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries or stroke.
The games that the system has are simple so they can be adapted to a variety of patients. At the moment there are 34 games and 31 exercises that can be combined in 420+ different combinations. Patient progress is measured by a range of factors such as compliance, repetition, speed and performance.
The startup costs for installing the system are quite affordable. For the kit to be used at home, the patient needs a Kinect device, which costs £110, and a Windows PC. The pricing of MIRA is as a subscription model, it’s only available to clinical institutions to ensure supervised quality treatment. Depending on the subscription, it is usually £10 per patient per month.
Currently, the MIRA team is focusing on the UK market but also selling across Europe. Approximately 60 clinics are using the software so far, some of which have run feasibility studies that showed MIRA can benefit patients in need of physical exercise treatment. Most of the work has been with older people, and the University of Manchester ran a large randomised control trial.
From a technical point of view, when Cosmin and the team came up with the idea, they realised they needed to use a device. In 2010, they noted that holding the Nintendo Wii was an issue for some patients. There were also issues with a smart watch type device.
The camera option of the Microsoft Kinect is helpful because the patient doesn’t have to hold anything, and being a camera it can track the user from a distance. It only has to be set up once and is accurate in terms of gross movements, even when patients move slowly
Gamification can be used for anything that needs patients to comply with their suggested treatment.
Compliance is a big issue in healthcare, getting people to take steps towards better health is positive. Cosmin and the MIRA team did find that the adoption of the gamification concept throughout healthcare was their biggest initial challenge.
When we first started, most people…directed us to speak to paediatric institutions. Suggesting that because MIRA has video games, only children would be interested in them.
They did that for the first few years but once they had results from reputable institutions and how it was useful in adults, it began to get easier!
You can also catch his TED Talk at