FMP & Thesis Proposal: TrainingFinal Major Project
Field of Study
Wellbeing, modern urban lifestyle, influence of everyday technologies on human’s brain activity and mental health.
**Included:** Ways to prevent anxiety and improve mental wellbeing.
**Excluded:** Mental disorders and ways to cure them.
Context (what, where)
In today’s world the pace of life is constantly increasing due to the development of technologies and ways to communicate. These changes are happening much faster, than it used to be, and humanity is not ready to that. According to Mental Health Foundation [^https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/fundamental-facts-about-mental-health-2016.pdf], the number of mental health problems is growing and we have to adapt to the new circumstances.
An NHS study conducted in 2016 [^ https://digital.nhs.uk/article/813/Survey-shows-one-in-three-adults-with-common-mental-disordersreport-using-treatment-services-] shows that around 15% of the UK population suffers from depression or anxiety-related disorders and this would appear to be on the increase. In 2007, 24% of adults in England aged 16-74, with conditions such as depression or anxiety, were accessing mental health treatment. To compare in 2014, the figure was 37% of adults aged 16-74. In 2015 a record 17 million working days were lost, costing the economy at least £2.4billion, according to the UK Statistics Authority. Figures taken from the Labour Force Survey show that such absenteeism has increased by 25% over the previous year.
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The NHS [^http://www.nhs.uk/news/2016/12December/Pages/Our-news-predictions-for-2017.aspx] have predicted that 2017 will ‘become the year of virtual reality’. VR headsets and associated gear are becoming more accessible and more powerful. Despite the number of reports on negative impact of VR (some people experience nausea, tripping over wires, and arise possibility of heave users being retreated from the real world entirely), there are a lot of health benefits of VR were proven by science. For instance, the case study, published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI) [^https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5089996/], explores the feasibility of the mindfulness skills training and proves its effectiveness.
Rationale (why, what you want to achieve, who might benefit from it)
Due to the overwhelming pressure of society, which demands to achieve more and more in a young age, anxiety and depression related disorders are becoming extensive. Workaholism is one of the habits, which has been always treated like a good approach to be successful in life. Nowadays, thanks to such figures as Elon Musk, not only financial position is considered as a measure of success, but the number of projects you are handling at the same time. Technology startup culture manifest workaholic lifestyle as the ultimate and fundamental corner stone of success.
It leads to burnouts and reduction in performance. So people’s wellbeing is now becoming more and more important for employers and individuals who what to live well. It is more effective to prevent disorders, than to deal with them. That is why, different solutions which allow to increase mindfulness are very topical nowadays.
Populus poll for Mind of 2,060 adults in England and Wales in employment – polled between 6 and 10 March 2013, shows us that 60 per cent of employees say they’d feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.
So the accessible and effective solution would benefit both: people, who is experiencing burnouts and anxiety, and their employers.
For my research practice I would like to employ “Research Through Design” approach [^http://www.transart.org/wp-content/uploads/group-documents/79/1372332724-Frayling_Research-in-Art-and-Design.pdf]. It allows to constantly adapt to design outputs received through the iterative process. Mainly, I will look from the pragmatic perspective, sometimes making use of a critical point of view.
First of all, I will start with IDEO’s Method Cards, conducting a research process through the four ways to empathise with people: Learn, Look, Ask, and Try.
- Analysis of the collected information to identify patterns and insights.
- Target audience analysis and creating character profiles to represent archetypes.
- Cognitive task analysis.
- Analysis of the existing solutions.
- Long-range forecast.
- Flow analysis of the information or activity through all the phases of the process.
- Observe how people interact with the prototypes with and without instructions.
- Creating scenarios and testing them.
- Building prototypes and testing them.
- Focus groups.
- Ask users to describe their experience.
- Ask experts on the existing ways to prevent anxiety and maintain wellbeing.
- Ask experts to evaluate idea and prototypes.
All the process will be started with a minimum viable product in the form of prototypes and iteratively developed to the final form.
Predicted Resolutions (Intention, «I want to …», Installation or what?)
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I want to build an interactive virtual environment which responds to user’s inputs in the form of voice and biometric data. Basically, it is a guided meditative experience which adapts o the user’s current state and needs. Ideally, there should be two possible use cases.
First, in the form of a smartphone app with Google Cardboard or Daydream VR as an accessible everyday solution. In this case, basic experience is based on the limited ways of interaction through the voice and screen.
Second, an enriched experience with a proper VR headset like HTC Vive and additional kit of sensors to collect user’s biometric data.
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Sherry Turkle “The Second Life”
Thomas Pynchon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleeding_Edge