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Mental Health and Pervasive Technology

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Overview

Our project focused on creating a user-centric design that empowers players to manage different facets of their well-being, like mental health, in-game spending, and sleep schedules.

What started as a goal to improve mental well-being led to the development of an assistive wristwatch concept and an interactive robot companion, both engaging and beneficial.

Problem statement

Recognize the psychological impacts of excessive gaming and build solutions that address the mental health of users without compromising on the pleasurable immersive experience of gaming.

Team

This portfolio project emerged as a result of my participation in the course "Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction," led by Professor Elizabeth Kazunis. Collaborating with a dynamic team of four individuals, all of whom I encountered during this immersive class, we successfully executed this project.

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Apurva patil

M.S. in HCI/d

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Falak Khurmi

M.S. in HCI/d

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Mayuka Lokre

M.S. in HCI/d

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Aditya S.

M.S. in C.S.

My Role

  • Facilitated brainstorming sessions for design challenges

  • Conducted user research interviews to gather insights

  • Created physical prototypes to visualize concepts

  • Delivered engaging progress presentations

  • Led exploration of incorporating a robot into the project

  • Assessed feasibility and implications of robot integration

  • Developed MEEP prototype as tangible design representation

  • Evaluated functionality, gathered user feedback, iterated design

User Group

Young people have the most impressionable minds. Gaming is popular amongst young adults, and hence we chose a user group of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.

Here are a few quotations that were brought up throughout our user research interviews.

Secondary Research

After conducting user reserach we found out that there was stress among gamers and this led us to do more in-depth secondary research where we found out that

46%

Increase in the number of gamers in the US during the covid pandemic.

3-6.5 mil

gamers in the United States are estimated to have mental disorders due to gaming.

Insights from secondary research

"Gaming disorder" as characterized by the WHO:



1. Loss of control: Inability to regulate the number of hours.
2. Over-prioritizing: Giving gaming precedence over other areas.
3. Playing together despite negative consequences, such as poor grades at school.

"Gamers can feel a constant need to be involved in more and more video gaming tournaments, in the belief that the more you play, the more you will be asked to play."
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Primary Research

As a part of this project, we conducted 8 user research interviews. Following are the insights that we generated

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Challenges 

We identified a few challenges 

Interviews & Observations

Some quotes from our users that best illustrate what they go through while playing a game are as follows: This helped us empathize with our users and create a user-friendly solution for them.

Affinity mapping

  • We made an affinity map in which we included quotes from our interviews.

  • We started deriving themes out of all the quotes.

  • And further, we developed eight "How might we?"

Realized themes

After carrying out affinity mapping, we came up with the following themes.

The Crazy 8's

During our research phase, we carefully conducted interviews to gain valuable insights. From these interviews, we successfully identified key themes that guided our design process.

Idea Generation with the Crazy Eights Method: To generate a multitude of creative solutions, we employed the popular Crazy Eights method during our ideation process. Here, you can find a visual representation of my Crazy 8s, showcasing the diverse range of ideas we explored.

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Pain Points

Pain points are any UX problems that frustrate the user and prevent them from getting what they need.

Credit: Sketches by Aditya Shahapure

The solution

Following thorough primary and secondary research and insightful discussions with professors and peers, we developed the concept of an AI support animal robot integrated into smartwatches. This innovative idea aims to re-engage users with the real world and support their mental well-being, combining advanced technology with the companionship of a support animal for a comprehensive user experience enhancement.

Our concept involved connecting the watch's face to a robot's body, aiming for enhanced user connection and cost-effectiveness. The integration of a physical robot was designed to foster a personal connection and emotional attachment, similar to a desktop pet. The unique feature allowing the watch face to detach and connect with the robot minimized manufacturing costs by combining functionalities into one unit, offering an affordable, seamless solution that caters to users' mental health and provides an engaging experience.

Say hi to ‘MEEP’

It was a creative risk to build a prototype of a AI Support Animal for solving this problem. Yet I took the risk and pitched it to the team first and then to our grad teaching staff and class. And it was a hit. 

‘MEEP’ is a cute AI Support Animal that is always with the players like a loyal companion. Meep cheers the players with music, dance movements, and adorable expressions!

Meep is also a great helper that reminds players to sleep on time, encourages them to take a walk, helps them track their gaming activities, and answers their questions.

MEEP's features

Wireframes

During our project, we considered how a smartwatch might disrupt a user's immersion in gaming. To balance the gaming experience with mental health needs, we aimed to design the smartwatch integration in a way that minimizes distractions and maintains the gaming immersion.

Designs

High fidelity

OnBoarding process​: Once the screen is attached back to the watch, MEEP takes the players through the onboarding steps.

Interaction with MEEP

High fidelity

We implemented "Emotional Mapping" in our design, showing players a visual representation of their emotions during gameplay using voice detection. 

 

The data is transferred to a smartwatch app, allowing players to view their emotions over time and access coping strategies or seek expert support. This feature enhances self-awareness and supports players' mental well-being within the gaming experience.

Other features

Future scope

Reflections

What did I learned from this project

  1. Thorough Research: Comprehensive research provided deep insights into the problem space, opening doors for innovative solutions.

  2. Collaborative Feedback: Input from professors and colleagues was crucial in refining our ideas, adding diverse perspectives to create a more effective solution.

  3. User-Centric Approach: Focusing on user needs highlighted the importance of addressing their desire for real-world connection and mental health support, guiding our decision-making.

  4. Holistic Solution: We aimed for a solution that addresses both emotional and practical needs, enhancing overall user satisfaction.

  5. Iterative Design Process: Our design evolved through multiple rounds of feedback and refinement, emphasizing the value of iterative development.

  6. Balancing Innovation and Feasibility: We ensured our AI support animal robot concept was both innovative and technologically feasible.

  7. Real-World Impact: Our focus on mental health and real-world connection underlines our commitment to creating meaningful design impacts.

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