Human-Centered Design Portfolio
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Virtual Reality for Mental Health

Losing a friend who suffered from depression a few days ago made me lose my train of thought.

Though there are multiple therapies to help people who suffer from depression, the fact is, most patients are Unwilling to accept the diagnosis of depression. They are prone to mislabel pre-treatment symptoms as drug-related issue, or fear it to be too intrusive, complicated, lengthy and expensive. Additionally, the uneasiness of speaking up also serves as a hindrance for people to open up.

We hope Triloka, an immersive Virtual Reality experience with Chatbot could serve as a truthworthy companion for depression patients, help them to speak out their challenges and problems, regain interests of daily activities and meditate to get inner peace.

Triloka

Depression Alleviation Using Virtual Reality

 Teammates: Meenakshi Sivapriya / Rohan Pooniwala / Raghav Gupta / Yujia Liu                            Duration: 2 Days                                   My Role: Concept Design, Unity Design, Scene Design, Visual Design

Teammates: Meenakshi Sivapriya / Rohan Pooniwala / Raghav Gupta / Yujia Liu                            Duration: 2 Days                                   My Role: Concept Design, Unity Design, Scene Design, Visual Design

 

Blend three realms of the physical, virtual and spiritual world

Triloka blends three realms of the physical, virtual and spiritual world to help users address and overcome negative feelings result from depression. The user goes through a series of interactions that help him prevail over his loneliness, sadness, guilt, disinterest, inability to concentrate, and feeling of hopelessness.

 Sit around the bonfire, listen to your stories

Sit around the bonfire, listen to your stories

Various environments including (1) a forest where people share their stories around a bonfire; a virtual therapist who suggests activities to help them to overcome depression; (2) an exciting canoeing encounter that brings back the user's interest in fun activities as well as (3) a peaceful meditation experience on the top of a mountain. The soothing music and a mood reflecting sky are also added to the therapeutic experience to make users feel relaxed and peaceful.

 

Do you feel depressed?

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Depression is a mood disorder with distressing symptoms that negatively affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

In 2015, around 16.1 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 350 million people suffering from depression, globally.

 

Symptoms

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 Environment

The major aspect of this project was the 3D - modeling of environments and character animation. In the beginning, we brainstormed together to create the environments including terrain systems and interactions to make the experience realistic. We hope Triloka could become a friend to ultimately help assuage depression.

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Chatting Bot

We used Microsoft Speech API for the conversion of speech to text and vice-versa. It is aimed for conversing with the specialized (for depression) facebook bot and return the responses in voice using text to speech. Besides, IBM Watson's Tone Analyzer was used to track the user's mood. 

The following are the conversations we simulated between depression patient and the virtual therapist.

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Video

 

Future Work

The future for Triloka will involve real-time implementation of the talk-bots which allows the user to choose, if he prefers, to talk to an actual therapist or a virtual one. Besides, we hope to integrate more interactive functions by using controllers (such as teleportation and manipulation).  We are also excited to release this to the real world market and see how people react to this interactive experience. It would give us inspiring ideas to improve upon in Triloka 2.0.

 

Thousand Words

Artificial Intelligence Enhanced Art Therapy for Autism Sufferers

 Teammates: Meenakshi Sivapriya / Rohan Pooniwala / Raghav Gupta / Yujia Liu                        Duration: 2 Days                       My Role: Design Research, Ideation, Unity Design, Scene Design, Visual Design

Teammates: Meenakshi Sivapriya / Rohan Pooniwala / Raghav Gupta / Yujia Liu                        Duration: 2 Days                       My Role: Design Research, Ideation, Unity Design, Scene Design, Visual Design

 

Art with AI for Autism Sufferers

Thousand Words is a Virtual Reality application that helps Autism sufferers to explore and express themselves by crafting attractive artwork through Artificial Intelligence. It also enables them to buid their social skills and better understand other's perspectives.

There are two parts: Art Creation and Artist-audience Connection

 

Art Creation

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Reports suggest that people with autism are often highly visual thinkers, and many report that they “think in pictures”. Expressing feelings and ideas through images is very natural for them and can be a relief from the daily struggle to express themselves verbally.

Here, our app helps to translate the clients' random drawings into a beautiful artwork, which not only help them to feel better, but also encourage them to express themselves more.

 A calm environment that allows you to express yourself freely and paint your heart out!

A calm environment that allows you to express yourself freely and paint your heart out!

 

Artist-Audience Connection

Autistic people tend to struggle with social issues, hard to comprehend other people’s perspectives and feel uncomfortable relating to others. Our app provides a gallery for them to show and appreciate other's artpieces. By looking at a peer’s art work offers a concrete way to “see” another person’s point of view, thus a powerful bond can be forged without the initial need for direct, face-to-face interaction.

 A   novel art gallery where autistic artists' paintings can be enjoyed!

A novel art gallery where autistic artists' paintings can be enjoyed!

 

No man is a lonely island

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In recent years, Autism has been featured frequently in the news. The symptoms of autism include impaired communication, social skills and repetitive behaviors

Broadly speaking, art therapy promotes mental and emotional growth through art making. It is conducted with the aim of building life skills, addressing deficits and problem behaviors, and promoting healthy self-expression. 

Artificial Intelligence can never replace human's feelings, but it can enhance our abilities to express themselves. 

 

Art Therapy is the Solution

Despite getting inspired by and lauding famous people who were born with some form of autism, like Albert Einstein and Mozart, Autism is highly stigmatised in our society. The traditional methods of "Special Attention" only makes them feel isolated and lonely. Art Therapy is a good approach for people who feel hard to express themselves freely due to fear of being judged by others; also, the treatment sessions are more than they can afford. 

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VR Experience Design

We used Unity engine to build the environments. The painting done in the canvas is sent over the server to have the analysis performed and it returns a neural style version of the original image, which is equivalent to the therapist helping you with your art. It also suggests improvements that could be made to the painting based on the scientific studies done by arttherapyblog.com. 

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Video

 

Busines Model

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Government and NGO could provide funding to schools, health care providers and hospitals, encouraging them to provide art therapy to Autism sufferers. Then the artpieces created by them could be sold to the public, or exhibitied at galleries and museums. The revenue generated could be donated back to government and NGO. Thus, a closed chain is created to promote the application of art therapy in medical care industry. 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Work

In the future, we would like to implement better art analysis to help users get more professional feedback on their paintings. We would also like to include a scroll bar that allows the user to manage how much of his art he is willing to be modified. Also, we hope to make the analysis feedback faster to reduce the waiting time of the user and dynamically change the music frequencies based on the mood of the user.