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The Innovation Studio at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Announces Winners of Digital Health Lab Demo Day

Winning VR, AR and gaming innovations will receive $20,000 each in seed grants and be piloted at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

The Innovation Studio at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) announced the winners of its first ever Digital Health Lab Demo Day, the culmination of a six-month venture to develop, incubate and implement virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mobile gaming solutions to improve care for pediatric patients and providers in the pediatric healthcare space. The five winners will receive $20,000 each in seed grants and the opportunity to pilot their innovations at CHLA.

The Digital Health Lab is the CHLA Innovation Studio’s accelerator program, which focuses on transforming pediatric health care through mobile games, VR, AR and immersive digital experiences. The Digital Health Lab portfolio currently includes 16 teams, all of which share the common goal of enhancing digital therapeutics, improving clinical education and reimagining the patient and provider experience.

“It’s been a thrilling six months mentoring the teams and witnessing their unbridled enthusiasm as they worked to enhance the lives of pediatric patients, who remain an underserved population within the health-tech innovation space,” said Omkar Kulkarni, MPH, Chief Innovation Officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “We are eager to embark on the implementation phase, where we will pilot these innovations at CHLA and measure the real-world impact on our patients and their families.”

The winning teams are as follows:

Manatee: Manatee is developing a voice-enabled and artificial intelligence powered therapy robot that aims to provide cost-effective care at home for children who suffer from illnesses such as autism. This robot is being developed with the clinical expertise of several CHLA physicians. Manatee is also developing a therapy management platform to engage children, parents and providers in behavioral health care.

Playing Forward: The Playing Forward team is developing an immersive VR game-based entertainment intervention to improve motor skills in children. The game will feature characters that Playing Forward has developed, as well as popular characters licensed from well-known entertainment companies.

Pulse XR: Pulse XR is a VR application that uses MRI data to create a virtual view of a patient’s heart. It would provide a tool for cardiac surgeons to use for surgery preparation and to educate other providers of the anatomy.

Mila: Mila is a music-based game for kids that combines neurologic music therapy techniques and cognitive gaming science to develop a game that can remotely identify and train cognitive skills. The game would use computer vision and audio feedback for activities like singing and dancing.

CHLA Companion: CHLA Companion is an augmented reality and chat-bot enabled mobile application that will improve the patient and parent/caregiver experience before, during and after surgical procedures. It would provide a character companion to help children and caregivers better prepare for surgeries and potentially improve outcomes after surgeries. CHLA Companion is being developed with support from CHLA physicians, nurses and clinical experts.

This announcement comes six months after CHLA hosted its first ever Gamifying Pediatrics Hackathon, when physicians, nurses, engineers, developers, game designers, and AR/VR experts came together for one weekend to develop new digital tools that will help improve pediatric medicine. Over the course of 48 hours, Hackathon participants pitched 47 ideas and formed 22 teams, presenting rough prototypes to a judging panel of CHLA experts on the final day. Ten teams were selected as semi-finalists and advanced to the Incubator phase, where they joined CHLA’s Digital Health Lab for free mentorship as they continued to build and refine their prototypes.

To learn more about the CHLA Innovation Studio and the Digital Health Lab, visit their website at

About Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is at the forefront of pediatric medicine, offering acclaimed care to children from across the world, the country and the greater Southern California region. Founded in 1901, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is the largest provider of care for children in Los Angeles County, the No. 1 pediatric hospital in California and the Pacific region, and is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of Best Children’s Hospitals. Clinical expertise spans the pediatric care continuum for newborns to young adults, from everyday preventive medicine to the most medically complex cases. Inclusive, compassionate, child- and family-friendly clinical care is led by physicians who are faculty members of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Physicians translate the new discoveries, treatments and cures proven through the work of scientists in The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles—among the top 10 children’s hospitals for National Institutes of Health funding—to bring answers to families faster. The hospital also is home to one of the largest training programs for pediatricians in the United States. To learn more, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter, and visit our blog at