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VR reduces pain for kids in hospital

Virtual Reality (VR) is being used in hospitals in place of general anaesthetics to alleviate pain for young patients.

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The Starlight Children’s Foundation is using the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset in its Starlight Virtual Reality program. The technology enables paediatricians at Children’s Hospital Colorado and hundreds of Starlight partner hospitals and healthcare facilities in the US to use headsets as a procedural tool for critically ill young patients, primarily to reduce anxiety during mild to moderately painful procedures. By using VR as a calming distraction, several patients have been able to undergo these procedures whilst awake, cutting down lengthy recovery times, and reducing the need for medication.

The case study is showcased in a new Lenovo film, This is Life, premiered at the Denver Film Festival last month. 

Joe Albietz, MD, Medical Director at Child Life, Children’s Hospital Colorado, says: “Due to the distressing nature of treatments such as a lumbar puncture, where a needle is used to withdraw spinal fluid and sometimes administer medication, our patients often receive the procedure under general anaesthetic. Virtual Reality can be used in place of general anaesthesia to help tolerate pain, and in fact, it is having a profound impact on the quality of life of our hospitalized children. We are seeing children who used to require general anaesthesia, now able to be fully awake with minimal medications.” 

To unearth new insights into the social changes and benefits of intelligent technology and smart devices, Lenovo surveyed more than 15,000 individuals, across the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France, and Italy. The research found that people around the world believe new technologies have the power to transform the healthcare space, with 47% of global respondents saying technology will be “critical” in transforming health care in the future.

84% of respondents say they believe technology can empower people, communities and society to help address and solve big global problems, including in the healthcare field, while a quarter (25%) report they feel technology companies have a responsibility to help address and solve major challenges facing society and the world.

While a significant proportion of respondents say they feel technology can help play a role in addressing worldwide challenges such as certain health care issues, they say that promise is yet to be fulfilled. More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) said that technology and smart devices are currently having a positive impact on their abilities to live healthier lifestyles. Additionally, only half (50%) of people globally say they think technology has had a positive impact on society by improving aspects of the healthcare space. 

Lenovo concludes that people around the world are aware of the impact that technology has made in users’ general health and wellness, but there is room to grow, especially in terms of personal wellness. This presents an opportunity for Lenovo, as well as other technology companies alike, to innovate and grow in a space where people believe technology can make a positive impact.

Dilip Bhatia, Vice President of User and Customer Experience, Lenovo, says: “As technology transforms the world into a more intelligent and inter-connected place, Starlight Virtual Reality is one of many examples of Lenovo’s commitment to creating smarter technology that transforms society. We believe this responsibility falls to global technology providers to collectively develop solutions to solve larger societal issues, such as in the health care sector. In addition, our new global survey shows that people around the world share our belief that technology can benefit humankind in crucial areas such as health and wellness.”

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Cover your home in under 3 minutes

Naked Insurance now offers home cover and household contents insurance, which can be sorted fully from its intelligent bot in its app.

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To read in-depth coverage of Naked Insurance on Gadget, click here.

Naked’s comprehensive product range now includes home cover (building insurance up to R10 million) and contents insurance (up to R2.5 million). The new offerings leverage Naked’s completely automated, front-office to back-office, processes to enable consumers to purchase cover through the mobile app within seconds.

Consumers can get a quote from Naked’s friendly chatbot, Rose, in 90 seconds and sign up for home and contents insurance in under three minutes – completely online and with no need for a phone call. They can also claim from, manage, change and cancel their policies from the Naked app without the need to speak to a call centre agent, giving them unprecedented control.

“Since we launched South Africa’s first AI-native car insurance product, many of our customers have asked when they would be able to insure their homes and possessions with us too,” says Ernest North, co- founder at Naked. “Because it was always our plan to leverage our AI, automation and machine learning technology to offer a comprehensive product suite, we are excited to answer this request with our home and contents product range.

“Naked’s car insurance offering has enjoyed strong uptake among tech-savvy people who are looking for a more convenient, digital experience and more affordable premiums than they can get from traditional insurers. Early user testing indicates that this same market will be among the most enthusiastic adopters of Naked’s home and contents cover. We look forward to bringing the transparency, fairness and value of our product to home insurance.”

The home insurance products are built on Naked’s digital systems and processes. Because it does not run legacy systems or manage a large call centre infrastructure, Naked can pass significant premium savings onto to its customers. When customers get quotes for their homes, contents and portable possessions, they are able to see how the quote changes in real-time as they add or remove items or adjust the excess payment.

Download the Naked Insurance app from the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.

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Lockdown – Season 5 on Showmax

The hit prison drama, Lockdown, has moved from Mzansi Magic and is coming to Showmax exclusively from 30 January, with two episodes per week every Thursday.

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Notorious for its cliffhangers, plot twists and emotional rollercoasters, Lockdown takes viewers into the daily battle for survival in the cells and offices of Thabazimbi Women’s Correctional Facility.

As Season 5 picks up, Masebata’s cult is no longer in power. Arch-rivals Mazet (Dawn Thandeka King) and Tyson (Lorcia Cooper) are running the prison yard together, for now.

Governor Deborah Banda (Pamela Nomvete) is under pressure from the Department of Correctional Services, after one death too many at the prison. And Monde (Zola Nombona) is trying to make things right with Vicky (Lauren Jenae).

The action-packed two-minute trailer gives fans their first look at this season’s new star, Sophie Lichaba, aka Sophie Ndaba, who became a household name in South Africa during her two-decade-long starring role as the feisty receptionist Queen Moroka in the SABC1 soapie Generations. In Lockdown, she plays Palesa, the head nurse at Kgotsong Asylum, a key location this season, where Monde’s sister, Katlego (Natasha Thahane), has been transferred.

“Palesa’s a broken woman who’s been through it all,” says Sophie. “She’s so broken she will do anything to feel better, even if it’s not right.”

Sophie joins one of the most impressive casts on South African television, which also includes SAFTA winners Nomsa Buthelezi and Linda Sebezo as fan favourites Slenda and Maki, and the multi-award-winning Patricia Boyer as Sue.

“It’s an all-female power cast,” says Lauren. “You see these magnificent women who are so beautiful in real life, and then they come into prison in Lockdown, and they are grungy and nasty. It’s so nice to be part of a cast like this, where beauty is nothing – it’s all about how dirty you can get and how true to your character.”

“The other show I do, I’m glam and beautiful, with the hair, the heels and all of that,” says Nomsa. “Then on Lockdown, I come with short hair and nothing and I look like a boy. But when you’re a storyteller, you forget about yourself.”

Both Zola and Lorcia say Lockdown helped them escape being typecast.

“At the beginning of my career, I was starting to be typecast as the bimbo with the hair and boobs and short skirts,” says Zola. “I was tired of that, so when this came along, I was like, ‘Thank you, Lord; you’ve answered my prayers; I’ve always wanted to play a character as bare as I can be, without my beauty being enhanced.”

Similarly, Lorcia says, “Before getting Tyson, I was always typecast. I think people always saw the pretty coloured girl with the good body and straight hair… to a point where I used to go to auditions and people would say, ‘You don’t look coloured enough.’”

Lockdown creator Mandla N, who still directs every episode, started his career as an actor on shows like City Ses’la and Ses’Top La before moving into directing. That experience helped turn him into “a cast whisperer,” to quote Zola.

“Authenticity is everything,” he says. “Prison is a gritty, dirty, grungy world and we can‘t glamourise that. So when you see the ladies in prison in Lockdown, you think: ‘This person could give me a run for my money.’”

That authenticity is helped by his decision to film the series at Constitution Hill, the historic prison complex where the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Albertina Sisulu served time.

As Lauren says, “As soon as you get here, you feel the history and the stories that have come out of this prison. It really changes your mindset as soon as you walk in here.”

Showmax will release two episodes every Thursday, from 30 January. If you’re not already addicted to South Africa’s favourite prison drama, you can catch up on the first four episodes of Lockdown S1 on YouTube here, and the previous four seasons on Showmax here

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