Breathing space prototype is created by Åte VR . It is a 5-minute interactive VR experience for children with ADHD. Breathing Space is an easily accessible VR tool that the child will be able to use in school situations, where a fit could happen. It will help create focus and bring calm, but still help the child remain within a learning context. By using the Breathing Space application, the hope is, that the child will learn how to handle frustrating situations in a calm, intuitive, fun, and educational manner.
“After finishing a virtual reality prototype in spring 2018, where adults diagnosed with ADHD could retreat to an isolated, peaceful, & meditative breathing place, we found it natural to explore how a similar VR solution could be made for children with ADHD. More specifically we decided that the context of elementary school (age 8-12) could be interesting to explore with this kind of VR experience/tool.”
Arguments for realising the ‘Breathing Space’ idea are manifold. In schools teachers and personnel struggle with putting enough and also the right resources into helping children, who have been diagnosed with ADHD. In some cases the solution becomes to exclude or shield the child from the distracting elements that occur in the learning environment. This can lead to the child feeling behind their classmates in learning the curriculum, which can lead to some children not wanting to continue their educational lives. On a societal level, this can have huge consequences, which is why making interventions early on in the school context is important. In this case the VR intervention Breathing Space should help the child learn how to use breathing exercises, and small activities to bring back the lost focus that might have come from a fit.
In practice the user starts the experience on a small and calm isolated island, where he/she is given a simple breathing instruction, before being transported to an underwater environment, where he/she can choose between 3 different relaxing activities. Each activity differ from each other, and introduce different functions and interaction possibilities, that may have a relaxing effect on the user.
- Activity #1 called Bubble Cave is highly inspired by visual and auditive Snoezelen therapy effects, where the user is surrounded by bubbles coming from interactive lava rocks laying close by.
- Activity #2 called Submarine Ride is a journey through a randomly generated trench system, with a limited amount of interactive objects, but a wide variety of events unfolding on the way.
- Activity #3 called Shipwreck is an open environment with a wrecked ship in the middle, where the user is free to populate the ship by placing plants and feeding fish, to make the environment rich on life.
After the user has spent at total of 5 minutes in these activities, the user is transported back to the island, where the experience ends.
Projects of Åte VR on Facebook
- Samuel Jessen, developer
- Kenneth Pedersen, UX designer & developer
- Frederik Mølgaard, sound designer
- Ege Jespersen, UX designer & project leader
- Arne Kaas, UX designer
- Thomas Pedersen, UX designer
For the development of Breathing Space Maya and Blender are used for 3D modeling and texturing, Photoshop for other graphics and textures. Application has been built in Unity 3D, where most of the experience has been programmed in the C# language.
In total with preliminary literature/theoretical studies, ideation workshops, early prototype development, establishing test beds, further prototype development, tests, iteration workshops, and final prototype development took approximately 3,5 months. In the development period of Breathing Space, we contacted several private and public institutions, who have expertise in the ADHD area, and asked if they could help us with testing this new technology. We were lucky that the very reputable Center for ADHD (private consultancy center), Elise Smiths Skole (private school) and Center for Specialundervisning for Voksne (public municipal department) returned with a positive answer, and allowed us to do tests at their facilities. We are happy that talks with Center for ADHD and Elise Smiths Skole are continuing out in 2019, which potentially can lead to a further development of the prototype, and hopefully a fully functional and commercial version in 2019.
Testing the prototype