TOMMI: The Interns’ Experience

By Softcare Studios, an Italian-based company developing virtual reality experiences to support children with cancer in hospitals. The company was part of the 2018 TMCx digital health accelerator program.

Softcare Studios with its interns

The founders of Softcare Studios, while part of the TMCx digital health accelerator program with their VR project, TOMMI, dedicated to help hospitalized children better cope with therapy, gave students from Houston a unique opportunity to collaborate and work in the TMCx Accelerator Program in the Spring 2018 cohort.

This team fully utilized the talent in the local universities spanning from bioengineering, biomedical informatics and psychology. Here are some of their experiences during the four months they spent with the team and fellow students:

Jason Dennis — Bioengineering, Sophomore

“As a bioengineering major from Rice University, I have gained a strong interest in medical entrepreneurship through my undergraduate coursework and other opportunities.

“During the Intern|X program with the TMC and Softcare Studios, I was immersed in a digital health startup ecosystem. As an intern on the TOMMI project, I was able to work on the data science team in building a supervised learning classification algorithm to be used on data obtained from a VR headset.

“This experience has also allowed me to connect with people who share similar interest in health care and entrepreneurship. The TOMMI project is a part of a new wave of innovative projects that incorporates virtual reality in both a therapeutic and data science context.

“Working with the TOMMI project team and the other interns was an enlightening professional experience that honed my data science skills, improved my collaborative skills, and introduced me to some of the different aspects of a startup.”

Ye Rin Han — Psychology and Statistics, Sophomore

“It was a great experience for me to learn how technology can be used in real life. I was glad to get a chance to participate in developing a way to lessen the stress level of young cancer patients.

“From this internship, I researched many different kinds of functions for coding and learned various methods. Also, working with other awesome members of this project, I learned responsibility, enthusiasm and commitment from them.”

Babs Ogunbanwo—Bioengineering, Junior

“TOMMI has given me the opportunity to apply the concepts and skills that I have acquired through my undergraduate coursework and projects. As an EEG Data Analysis Intern, I had the responsibility of gathering and analyzing EEG data to correlate these informations to user’s wellbeing.

“This was very rewarding because I was able to implement my knowledge of brain waves in gathering data through planned experiments and analyze them using tools such as MATLAB to generate new applications supporting the project. Overall, I enjoyed my experience with TOMMI and will take what I learned into my future endeavors.”

Danilo Pena — Biomedical Informatics, Masters

“Softcare Studios team with their project TOMMI was a great group of guys that allowed me to lead and manage the talented group of students. During the four months, we went through the process of finding a problem we can solve, gathering the pertinent data, cleaning and then analyzing the data.

“In the end, we worked with the team into the development of innovative machine learning models able to measure the stress related parameters of users playing TOMMI.

“This experience was invaluable as it not only challenged my technical and project management skills, but also gave me the opportunity to be a part of the growing network of health entrepreneurs in the Houston area.”

Aravind Raj — Bioengineering, Junior

“During my time working at project TOMMI, I was responsible for reading through research papers searching for useful methods and techniques to be introduced and support the project.

“I learned how to convert research data into technical implementation into a pre-existing design, fitting it into the general purposes of TOMMI and improving its potential tu support the lifetime of hospitalized patients.

“This collaboration is an example of many that come through the TMCx where innovation occurs through getting a smart bunch of people together with a passion to solve problems in health care.”

Sripriya Prabhala — Strategic Planning and Business Development

“My experience at TMCx as a business development and strategy-planning intern with the company Softcare Studios was just wonderful. The one thing I really enjoyed at TMC was the diversity. Seeing people from all over the world coming together to solve unmet needs and bridging gap between novel ideas and bringing novel technologies to the market was really fascinating.

“Team Softcare Studios was fun to work with. Our goal was to make the company and it’s first project “TOMMI” succeed, for which we worked very hard and wore many hats along the way, having fun at the same time.

“I learned a lot working in this role that I did not know before. I personally discovered my passions and strengths while working with this Italy-based Virtual Reality health care startup.”

To realize great projects, collaboration between very different expertises and mindsets is not an option, but a daily mandatory goal.

At Softcare Studios, we really appreciated the great work done by our interns, its was amazing to share with them our challenges, the ups and downs of the start-up life, helping them understand how it’s possible to start from an idea and tranform that into a real project, connected with true needs and providing meaningful social impact.

It has been a building experience for us all and we wish all the best to the great minds and people we discovered here in Houston, thanks to the support by TMCx.