Biofeedback on the Cusp of a Consumer Breakthrough – Interview with Dr. Yuval Oded

Biofeedback is making its way from the lab and from hospital clinics to the hands of consumers, and the potential for improving wellness is tremendous.  Dr. Yuval Oded – biofeedback expert, psychologist, researcher and serial entrepreneur – talks about the coming biofeedback consumer revolution.

Biofeedback works. Using sensors to get input on our physiological processes – breathing, heart rate and others – and then learn to influence them has been shown to help with everything from reducing anxiety and stress, managing pain and headaches, asthma and many other conditions.  So why is it that most of us haven’t ever been exposed to biofeedback, even though by all accounts it could do us a world of good?

“The key to making biofeedback readily available to consumers is the advancement of wearables,” explains Dr. Yuval Oded.  And the market is now at the tipping point. Wearables have advanced rapidly in only the past couple of years, and the technology has reached the point at which it is available and cost-effective. “With this progress I feel like we will soon reach the place I have been striving for for many years now – where biofeedback can be in every home, helping people feel better and live happier lives,” says Dr. Oded.

Arguably biofeedback has been around for hundreds of years, beginning with yoga practitioners in India who are able to use breathing and meditation techniques to exercise control over their physiological processes. Its modern incarnation began in the 1960’s.  Dr. Oded discovered it as a student, when he went to London to study the saxophone and photography, but his fascination with the brain led him to discover biofeedback, and change course to focus on psychology and biology.

One very promising – and already well validated scientifically – domain in biofeedback is Heart Rate Variability biofeedback (HRV) and especially HRV breathing. HRV is linked to many health and mental health benefits. Different frequency ranges of heart rate variability are used to reflect the balance in the autonomic nervous system which is central to the proper functioning of many of our internal organs and for the modulation of the stress response.

“Essentially, by training with this type of biofeedback we are able to influence the vagus nerve, which has parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract,” explains Dr. Oded.  “For example we have proven in research that 10-20 minutes of biofeedback exercise a day, after a few weeks improves asthma control by 32% and lowers rescue medication intake by  28%.  This level of positive impact can be achieved for everything from anxiety to chronic pain, depression to stress and pretty much everything in between.”

As a soldier in an elite commando unit in Israel’s air force called “Shaldag”, Dr. Oded understood firsthand the need for tools to help combat soldiers navigate stressful situations, and this is where his work on the practical implementation of biofeedback began.  He developed the methodology called the “mental gym™” for Israeli soldiers in elite units to help prepare them manage stressful situations, and this work has been proven to work and continues to this day.  A biofeedback software developed by Dr. Oded together with Ryan Deluz  is now being used by NASA as well.

The potential of biofeedback together with the advanced AI that is today becoming available is almost limitless and impacts every arena we can think of.  Dr. Oded is on the team of Ifeellabs, led by Elad Fein, which is about to launch an FDA-approved biofeedback wearable app to the consumer market in the U.S. in the coming months, which uses exact sensory readings of HRV (Heart Rate Variability) to determine and impact stress levels.  He is also involved with Sensority, a company which provides advanced systems to monitor stress levels which use physiological information provided through cameras. The company is developing airport security systems to identify potential terrorists and criminals.

“Sensority’s system is able to identify heart rate through cameras.  This type of biofeedback integrated with AI will soon make its way to the human resources arena, and I believe it will play a major part in the criminal justice system, in consumer sales and in pretty much every aspect of our lives,” says Dr. Oded. “It’s really a highly precise and reliable polygraph, that you can use through a camera on a room of even hundreds of people.  The potential is mind-boggling.”

“Joy Ventures is unique in its focus on bringing scientifically proven tools to consumers through products that improve wellness,” says Dr. Oded. “Now that wearables are finally becoming viable and consumer-friendly, I believe the flood-gates will open and the team at Joy will have a whole lot to do!”

“We are pleased to be cooperating with Dr. Oded on a number of fronts,” said Liron Nunez Weissman, VP Portfolio Success at Joy Ventures.  “Dr. Oded’s endeavors are spot on Joy’s vision of making scientifically proven methods for improving wellness readily available to people everywhere. Moreover, Dr. Oded embodies our belief in the potential of bringing together learnings from different fields, as he is not only a researcher and entrepreneur, but also a practicing psychologist.”