Role: Product Designer, Project manager / Research, Information Architecture, UX, Design system Details: Team of 4 | Nov 2018 - Feb 2019
IJsfontein – a company that designs and develops playful (digital) learning, “serious games” and interactive experiences – developed a Virtual Reality (VR) experience for eGGZ / ARQ, a centre that wants to promote large-scale integration of e-mental health in The Netherlands and treat the consequences of shocking events and psycho-trauma.
The set-up simulates the experience of being a waiter in a café. The patients take the role of serving other people and communicating with them. The therapists “accompany” the users by watching the events on an external screen, and directing the narrative that the patient is experiencing.
People suffering from shock and trauma may perceive some social situations in very negative ways. The main purpose of this experience is to simulate real-life conversations and challenge the patient’s way of thinking. By ‘accompanying’ the patient through the VR process, the therapist can adjust the treatment by addressing challenges and issues particular to this specific patient.
Problems of experiences that involve VR
In order to participate in a VR simulation, patients must wear a headset which covers a great part of their face, including the eyes. The therapist is, therefore, unable to ‘read’ the patient’s expressions. Also, what you say is not always how you feel.
Redesigning the therapist’s application
The existing UI of the therapist was rather simple. It contained some basic elements that could facilitate the transition between the narratives in the VR experience of the patient. After a first round of interviews, I found out that the interaction was quite intuitive, but there were unnecessary elements that had to be ignored during the therapy.
- Make minimum changes of the patient’s flow
- Do not distract therapists during the treatment
- Enhance the personalisation of the therapy
- Minimum UI design
The solution of the project contained two deliverables: a biofeedback design system wearable for the patient, connected to the new UI of the therapist.
The new UX
Kept to the minimum, the new proposal of the UX helped in guiding the therapist better through-out the patient therapist. The design was very basic, mostly because the therapists insisted it should look rather simple, and perfect to be printed – to be attached to the patients’ record.
The design system
Because a VR environment requests mobility, wireless and light-weight technology was preferred. Gloves (EasyPulse & GSR) turned out to be our wearable of choice to attach the bio-feedback sensors that we would use for the prototype. We programmed the sensors (both attached to finger tips) to collect the desired data and created an algorithm to visualise it in two ways:
- on the therapist screen, so that it’s easier for the therapist to follow the patient’s emotions;
- in the VR experience of the user, in the shape of an experimental creature which empathises with the patients
The project was presented as a Demo Paper at DIS 2019 entitled “Exploring states of mind: Emotion visualisation with biofeedback sensors in a 3D environment”.
The project presents great opportunities in exploring how the interpretation of bio-feedback could tweak narratives in storytelling, as well as games that have variable scenarios that are changing according to the reactions of the recipient. Finally, yet importantly, the study setup could support in creating an accessory for more authentic user testing results.