During the Biometric Feedback project, the briefs goal was to experiment with biometric feedback in a VR environment. The two main stakeholders were Hans and Mirjam. However, since our project brief required us to work on the concept of depression and lead us to create a tool that was to help individuals realise the effects and levels of their depression and mood, psychologists, therapists and their patients became our other stakeholders as well. In our initial meeting, we spoke about enhancing the pre-existing virtual reality experience — Café Sunday — using various methods such as feeling one's presence and being noticed within the VR environment. As Café Sunday had already been completed, our role was to explore ways in which biofeedback could enhance the experience.
But once we started working, it became clear that we could do much more than simply enhance something that was already finished. It felt shallow and almost pointless to do so. I for one wanted to experiment and create something grander. The project was a constant battle between all the stakeholders in both technical and ethical levels. While Mirjam wanted solid research and data, Hans from Ijsfontijn wanted us to take risks, play around and be creative. Also, well-being and mental health are sensitive matters that require lots of consideration.
After presenting the initial concept to Miriam (explained in depth in further indicators), she pointed out that if the patients' negative emotions were to be visualised by a character then the patient would be influenced and persuaded by their own negative emotions causing a negative feedback loop. Miriam first suggested that we use the creature only in the therapist’s view and avoid showing it to the patient. However, this did not feel like the right thing to do because instead of solving the issue with the patients as our primary stakeholders, it eliminated them entirely and focused purely on the therapist. So instead we decided to make sure that the experience would steer away from showing negative emotions and instead focus on positivity.
In the end, we created a tool that helped visualise the intensity of emotions in a playful way. The tool works in a way that the patient wears a VR headset and attaches sensors to their fingers which slowly calibrate to their heartbeat and skin responsiveness. These devices then send the data from the patients physical responses to Unity where it’s read by the software and triggers a colour and animation. The patient can then view the intensity of their emotion and the power that their emotions have.
The next steps for this project would be to test our different hypothesis’ and the applications of the tools to make it more customisable and personal, incorporate them inside the Cafe-Sunday scenes and enhance the biometric feedbacks. If expanded upon this tool can be used in various contexts and for multiple reasons such as in meditation apps and to help diagnose and treat other mental illnesses.
Another example of our consideration of stakeholders would be during the Living Roadmap Project. The project was to create a platform to help streamline innovation that connected to an online community. While the project could be seen as a success, I believe that we took a far too conservative approach as we got caught up trying to understand and comprehend the complexity of energy transition while creating a framework around it and keeping the client happy, that we missed an opportunity in being creative.