Dr. Serin, what surprised you the most from the Judges’ questions and feedback during the Brainnovations Pitch Contest?
It was great that at least one of the judges had already purchased and started using our product so we could delve into the nuances of our technology quickly. And I was thrilled that all judges saw the possibilities to create significant global impact.
In a nutshell, what is the core idea behind TouchPoints?
Too many people suffer too much stress, often leading to sleeplessness, cravings, anger, poor focus, poor performance, and feeling overwhelmed. TouchPoints aim at reducing stress by delivering haptic microvibrations via wearable devices worn on both sides of the body. The bi-lateral alternating stimulation (BLAST) technology can help reduce stress significantly while the wearer multi-tasks at home, work, or school. The key is that our wearables don’t simply give information or cues — they can actually help reduce stress.
When and how did the idea come to you?
The idea evolved over the last decade while I was practicing neuropsychology and therapy. I found out EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapists who were helping treat PTSD in groups of people as volunteers in conflict areas, and who often reported that after therapy people are less likely to get PTSD a second time. Unfortunately, many people don’t get any immediate or ongoing treatment after trauma, as one-on-one therapy is expensive and time consuming.
So I first became an EMDR Therapist myself and then tried to isolate the bi-lateral stimulation in prototypes using available technology. It became my mission to put BLAST into affordable wearables to give everyone access to this. Stress being so pervasive in our lives, I think people deserve tools outside of the doctor’s office to improve their lives.
What’s your vision for Brain Health in 2025 and how do you envision TouchPoint as part of it?
By 2025 I would like to see everyone living their best by avoiding the detrimental effects of an overactive stress response, and for TouchPoints to be affordable and widely accessible via corporate wellness partnerships, multiple distribution channels, and scholarship programs. By 2025 I hope we will know much more about stress and how to best deal with it.
As a personal note I’d love to be a Brainnovations Judge in 2025. I mean, what’s cooler than seeing all those companies at the cutting edge of neuroscience and life improvement?
How are you funding the company so far, and are you planning to raise funds this year?
We have primarily bootstrapped so far, as my co-founder, CEO Vicki Mayo, and I believe in conscious capitalism and wanted to get the company on a solid footing before taking investments. We also raised over $250k via Indiegogo, and are getting $400k as we speak thanks to the Elevator Pitch TV show by Entrepreneur magazine. We may be raising further funds later in the year.
How do you/ will you validate that your solutions do what they are supposed to?
We first created a solid scientific advisory board to guide our research strategy, and have been working on three double-blind placebo-controlled research projects and a variety of collaborations. We are in the process of publishing several papers, and writing grant proposals fir further research.
What are some key roadblocks ahead, and how are you planning to address them?
Our biggest hill to climb is challenging the status quo and educating the public about the stress response and what really works. People think stress is very complicated and something we need to live with, our medical systems tend to use invasive, expensive ‘solutions,’ and so many companies are creating so many products that there’s a lot of confusion and noise in the space.
If you could go back in time to, say, 5–10 years ago, what advice would you have liked to receive?
Ten years ago I gave birth to my oldest son. I wish someone would have told me not to worry so much …
Finally, if I may, what do you do to stay sharp
I use cutting-edge methods from my clinics, like neuromodulation and circadian rhythm regulation, wear TouchPoints and go to EMDR Therapy when needed, eat vegetables almost every morning, workout consistently, maintain positive relationships, express gratitude and kindness, and I never, ever, ever stress about the fact that I’m a total and complete nerd.
Dr. Amy Serin is the President of the Arizona Neuropsychological Society and the Co-Founder & Chief Science Officer at The Touchpoint Solution. She is credited with inventing BLAST (Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation delivered Tactile) technology as part of neuroscience research and practice at The Serin Centers. Dr. Serin oversees research partnerships with universities across the globe, and has been named Phoenix Young Woman of The Year and Advocate of The Year, among other recognitions.
Thanks to her great pitch and answers during the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit (slidedeck available below), The TouchPoint Solution was selected as the Top Brainnovation to Boost Workplace Productivity and Resilience.