YC Startup School grad uses holographic AI to evolve developmental disorder therapy

Holoash’s Yoshua Kishi
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition that affects people by making it difficult prioritize, manage time, focus on details, and follow-through with work.

One of the challenges faced by people with ADHD is that tasks tend to go unfinished regardless of whether they are personal or work-related and despite the intentions of the person. As a result, they tend to get reprimanded, causing them to lose their self-confidence and motivation. CEO Yoshua Kishi has also been diagnosed with ADHD and is aiming to reduce the symptoms with the help of technology.

An image of Holoash

Kishi’s current project is Holoash, a holographic interface based on cognitive science. A character presented as a hologram speaks with the user, who suffers from ADHD, in an attempt to raise their self-confidence. This method is called “motivation interviewing” or “therapeutic communication”.

The dialogue contained on Holoash is similar to that used by the AiOS “Samantha” in the movie Her. Following the company’s successful crowdfunding at Campfire held at the beginning of this year, it is currently in the process of hypothesis verification using its mobile app (video below) and conducting product/market fit research. Recently, it was adopted as a participant of Y Combinator’s Startup School and was chosen as a finalist of the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge. Additionally, the opportunities for use abroad are clearly discernible.

Kishi had the following to say about why holograms are the solution.

It is important to have something to focus on right in front of us in order to avoid distraction. And, since humans are not good at focusing on two dimensional objects, we want to stick to creating an environment where users see things in 3D and can then concentrate on them.

In recent times, apart from those trying to overcome ADHD, the surge in smartphone and social network usage has seen an increase in “healthy individuals” with ADHD. Kishi refers to this as “Digital Dementia”, and it is safe to assume that most everyone has experienced the never-ending barrage of push notifications from smartphones, etc., drawing their attention away from what needs to be done, and leading to difficulty maintaining priorities or even forgetting them altogether.

Kishi pitching at Silicon Valley’s TVLP (Technology Venture Launch Program)
Image credit: TVLP

In other words, everyone may have similar obstacles to overcome, some big some small, be it someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD by a doctor, or simply a modern human. If Holoash’s hypothesis is proven true, its possibilities are sure to expand. In the near future, the company has plans to introduce a scheduling (one of the obstacles faced by people diagnosed with ADHD) feature, and if it is equipped with Amazon Alexa or similar we can expect use cases other than as a smart speaker.

Earlier this year Holoash raised funds from Indee Japan, Soga Takeshi (SGcapital), Takashi Shibayama (Blanq), Osamu Osagahara (AbbaLab) in the angel round for development of Holoash’s hardware prototype. The company has recently started raising funds in the pre-seed round. This month a visiting researcher in the field of medical therapy from Stanford University joined the team as an advisor and it is expected that the company will collaborate with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and perform joint research with academia.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda