Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sleep disorders interventions through technology mediated environment

Exploring the synthesis of temperature deployed through haptic systems, I have found that researchers have previously considered the effects of an electric blanket on sleep stages and body temperature in young healthy men. They conclude that use of a temperature-controlled electric blankets under low ambient temperature may decrease cold stress to support sleep stability and thermoregulation during sleep.

Reference of the paper
Okamoto-Mizuno, Kazue; Tsuzuki, Kazuyo; Ohshiro, Yasushi; Mizuno, Koh (2005) Effects of an electric blanket on sleep stages and body temperature in young men. Ergonomics, Vol. 48 Issue 7, p749.

Based on research on seasonal affective disorders (SAD), designers have also created bedding that synchronizes the body clock. It is a poetic and transparent manner to support patients with seasonal affective disorder in which the insufficience of day-light causes the onset of depression. Designers have also created the SRE - Sleep & Recovery Enhancer. The SRE guide the user through autogenous exercises to lower the stress-level and reduce time to fall asleep.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Virtual Reality and mental health applications

Working on haptics for psychotherapy, I found interesting the past work on Virtual Reality for psychotherapy.

There is a lot of systems being developped for therapy, especially phobic disorders for instance when it involves panic disorders associated with acrophobia. The basic idea is to provide the patient with a virtual scenario where he/she can feel a sense height. The results of the studies proved that VR environments are effective and realistic at overcoming acrophobia

[Virtual environments for treating the fear of heights (1995) by Hodges, L.F. Kooper, R. Meyer, T.C. Rothbaum, B.O. Opdyke, D. de Graaff, J.J. Williford, J.S. North, The development of virtual reality therapy (VRT) system for the treatment of acrophobia and therapeutic case (2002) by Jang, D.P. Ku, J.H. Choi, Y.H. Wiederhold, B.K. Nam, S.W. Kim, I.Y. Kim, S.I. ].

More specifically related to neuropsychology, Dorothy Strickland has used Virtual reality for the treatment of autism. She also tested her system with children with attention deficit disorders. She concludes that because autism and attention disorders involve abnormal stimulus response to the external world, Virtual reality offers the potential to regulate an artificial computer environment to better match the expectations and needs of individuals with these problems.

Reference of her paper Virtual Reality for the Treatment of Autism. By Strickland D. In GIUSEPPE RIVA, BRENDA K. WIEDERHOLD, ENRICO MOLINARI (Eds.), Virtual Environments in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience 1997, 1998 Los Press: Amsterdam, Netherlands.

I also found a critical paper about basic theoretical and pragmatic issues that need to be considered while designing a VR system in the areas of clinical psychology and neuropsychology. For instance Basic VE Cost/Benefit Issues for Mental Health Applications

1) Can the same objective be accomplished using a simpler approach?
2) How well do the current attributes of a VE fit the needs of the psychological approach
or target?
3) How does a VE approach match the characteristics of the target clinical population?
4) What is the optimal level of presence necessary for the application?
5) Will the target users be able to learn to navigate in and interact with the environment in
an effective manner?
6) What is the potential for side-effects (cybersickness and aftereffects) in light of the
characteristics of different clinical groups?
7) Will assessment results and treatment effects generalize to the “real world”?
8) How should VE studies be designed and how will the data be analyzed?

These questions should be also addressed while designing and testing haptic systems for psychotherapy.

The paper also proposes areas where the immersion component can be crutial:
1. Systems designed to produce active distraction where the goal is to “remove” the
person’s ability to view conditioned (and unconditioned) pain related stimuli
Anticipated pain reduction may also serve to motivate a patient to become “involved” in
this alternative experience, with a higher level of presence resulting.
2. Systems designed to allow comparisons and ratings of full-sized humans for purposes
of assessing and treating body image disturbances, or for other applications that
may require some interaction with virtual “actors”.
3. Systems that target the assessment and rehabilitation of attention processes (as well as
other cognitive domains) whereby HMD fostered immersion would be needed to eliminate
external “distractions” that would intrude on the controlled environment .
4. Systems designed to assess and rehabilitate functional activities where transfer to the
real world is highly valued. An example where a higher level of the sense of presence
may be needed to maximize ecological validity, is when the objective is the assessment
or training of a complex procedurally-based functional skill (i.e., driving ability).
However, it should be noted that non-HMD approaches have shown some success for
this purpose for simple navigation-based activities.

The authors of the paper concludes positively on this work. They particularly states that these considerations for the development of virtual technology is necessary to maximize the potential usefulness of virtual environment for mental health applications. They remark that this is key to consider the standards that should be applied to research-based and clinically-oriented mental health applications.

Reference of the paper Basic issues in the use of virtual environments for mental health applications. By AA Rizzo, M Wiederhold, JG Buckwalter, GIUSEPPE RIVA, BRENDA K. WIEDERHOLD, ENRICO MOLINARI (Eds.), Virtual Environments in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience 1998, Los Press: Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Later in 2003 another review is published. It presents the state of the art of virtual reality therapy (VRT) in phobic disorders and conclude: Possibilities offered by VR in the field of the cognitive-behavioral therapies are numerous. Immersion, guide by the therapist, leads the patient to live this experiment in a more realistic way. But this “technicization” of the psychotherapy, as attractive as it is, does not modify the theoretical and methodological bases on which VRT rests. VRT has not replaced the role played by therapist. Indeed, his/her presence near to the patient remains essential. It seems that VR reinforces the therapeutic relation between patient and therapist on a collaborative mode.

Replacing the therapist is now the fear of the psychologists ;) but I did not interpret in any of my readings that these VR projects offered a replacement of a therapist. I certainly agree with the conclusion that if we design for the patient, we also design for the therapist. VR and haptic systems could be introduced by therapists for patients to gain both import and control on their own therapy.

Reference of this last paper State of the art of virtual reality therapy (VRT) in phobic disorders. By Stéphane Roy. In PsychNology Journal, 2003, Volume 1, Number 2, 176 - 183.

In Virtual Reality for clinical psychology and neuropsychology

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Classification for haptic actuation technology

Angela Chang refered me to a paper that articulates a need for haptic classification. This is a key paper to understand how to create and distinguish among haptic effects.
An Activity Classification for Vibrotactile Phenomena By Conor O’Sullivan and Angela Chang. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Volume 4129/2006


We observe that the recent availability of audio-haptic actuators allow richer vibration content to be available in commercial devices. However, we note that consumers are unable to take advantage of these rich experiences, mainly due to the lack of a descriptive language for vibration. We analyze the current methods for classifying vibrations. We propose a new framework for describing vibrotactile haptic phenomena, based on an organizing the media based on content activity. We describe this naming system, based on Russolo’s families of noise, and address other pertinent issues to introducing vibration content into commercial devices.

The creation of meaning in interaction design

But how, Donald, tell us how?: on the creation of meaning in interaction design through feedforward and inherent feedback

In Section 06: objects in space: But how, Donald, tell us how?: on the creation of meaning in interaction design through feedforward and inherent feedback By Tom Djajadiningrat, Kees Overbeeke, Stephan Wensveen
June 2002, Proceedings of the conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques. Publisher: ACM Press.
Abstract is below.

In recent years, affordances have been hailed by the interaction design community as the key to solving usability problems. Most interpretations see affordances as 'inviting the user to the right action'. In this paper we argue that the essence of usability in electronic products lies not in communicating the necessary action and instead shift our attention to feedforward and inherent feedback. With feedforward we mean communication of the purpose of an action. This is essentially a matter of creating meaning and we discuss two approaches to do so. With inherent feedback we try to strengthen the coupling between the action and the feedback. The sensory richness and action potential of physical objects can act as carriers of meaning in interaction. We thus see tangible interaction as indispensable in realizing feedforward and inherent feedback. We illustrate our ideas with examples from our teaching and research.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Emotional Wardrobe

The Emotional Wardrobe, by Lisa Stead, Petar Goulev, Caroline Evans, Ebrahim Mamdani
In Personal and Ubiquitous Computing archive, Springer-Verlag, Volume 8 , Issue 3-4 (July 2004), Pages: 282 - 290, 2004.
Abstract follows ...

Since the industrial revolution, fashion and technology have been linked through the textile and manufacturing industries, a relationship that has propelled technical innovation and aesthetic and social change. Today, a new alliance is emerging through the integration of electronic technology and smart materials on the body. This study addresses the integration of technology with clothing from a fashion perspective, and examines its expressive and interactive potential. It proposes the concept of “The Emotional Wardrobe”: clothing that represents and stimulates emotional response through the interface of technology. It asks if fashion can offer a more personal and provocative definition of self, which actively involves the wearer in a mutable aesthetic identity. A multi-disciplinary framework combines fashion, material science and the real-time, affective computing platform, called “AffectiveWare”. By merging technology and fashion, The Emotional Wardrobe becomes a poetic interface, shifting emphasis from human–computer interaction to computer-aided, human–human communication.

Website of the Emotional Wardrobe project

Cultures multiples

The virtue of multiculturalism: personal transformation, character, and openness to the other.
By Fowers BJ, Davidov BJ In Am Psychol. 2006 Sep ; 61(6): 581-94

A paper that makes you feel good about being multi cultural! Abstract is bellow.

The social, intellectual, and moral movement known as multiculturalism has been enormously influential in psychology. Its ability to reshape psychology has been due to its ethical force, which derives from the attractiveness of its aims of inclusion, social justice, and mutual respect. The cultivation of cultural competence, presented as a developmental process of acquiring self-awareness, cultural knowledge, and skills, is an important emphasis in the multicultural literature. The authors place the cultural competence literature in dialogue with virtue ethics (a contemporary ethical theory derived from Aristotle) to develop a rich and illuminating way for psychologists to understand and embody the personal self-examination, commitment, and transformation required for learning and practicing in a culturally competent manner. According to virtue ethics, multiculturalism can be seen as the pursuit of worthwhile goals that require personal strengths or virtues, knowledge, consistent actions, proper motivation, and practical wisdom. The authors term the virtue of multiculturalism openness to the other and conclude by describing how attention to cultural matters also transforms virtue ethics in important and necessary ways. ((c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

In multi cultures

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Triumph of Apple

I read Etienne Mineur's blog and found this extract of the Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires from 1996.
Documentary that contains interviews of Paul Allen (Microsoft), Bill Atkinson (designer, Macintosh Development Team), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Dan Bricklin (l'inventeur de VisiCalc), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Adele Goldber (Xerox PARC), Steve Wozniak ( Apple), Steve Jobs (Apple).
Via Etienne Mineur

The apple extract

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Body organisation and spatial representation

Body organisation and spatial representation.
By Tolja J, Cardia C In Cogn Process. 2006 Sep ; 7 Suppl 5: 95


This work falls within the area where psychology, anatomy and architecture meet and overlap. It comes from an interdisciplinary research carried out by professionals from very different, although complementary, backgrounds, as medicine and psychotherapy on one side, and interior design, landscape and urban design, on the other side. Through a brief powerpoint slide show, the results of a research carried out with the students of the Domus Academy of Design, the Landscape School Arte e Messaggio and the Department of Architecture and Planning of the Milan Polytechnic. The objective of the presentation is to show how a change in body organisation can affect the spatial perception, the spatial experience and the spatial representation. In the experiment reported, through a series of small, but specific, body movements the students have entered into different phisical patterns, with their relative "state of mind", and then led to note how these changes have affected their perception of space. After the students to the research have been lead to experience specific body organisations and neurological patterns, they have been asked to draw a familiar type of space: a room for the interior designers of the Domus Academy, a garden for the landscape designers, a town square for the urban designers of the Politecnico di Milano.The results show recurring and meaningful patterns in the drawings for every type of body organisation. The demonstration, will offer to the participants the opportunity to understand clearly the correlation among neuro-physical patterns and their related spatial perception and representation. A short discussion at the end will adress practical implications of specific spatial choices in determining body and neurological patterns in fields as architecture, urban design, education, psychology and medicine.

Pocket-sized psychology studies

Pocket-sized psychology studies: exploring daily diary software for palm pilots.
By Le B, Choi HN, Beal DJ. In Behav Res Methods. 2006 May ; 38(2): 325-32


Daily dairies, also known as experience sampling methods (ESM) or everyday experience methods, are a common methodology utilized to provide insight into momentary psychological processes. Traditionally, such studies often have utilized paper-and-pencil surveys administered several times each day over a span of several days or weeks. However, advances in technology now allow these studies to be conducted using palmtop computers (i.e., personal digital assistants; PDAs). Three software packages for running these studies on the Palm operating system were explored and compared on a number of features Specifically, ESP (Experience Sampling Program, by Feldman Barrett & Barrett, 2001), iESP Version 3.2 (Intel Experience Sampling Program, by Intel Research Seattle & the University of Washington Computer Science and Engineering Department), and PMAT Version 2.0 (Purdue Momentary Assessment Tool, by the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University) were examined, with their key features compared. These advances in software for running diary studies include a number of features that provide researchers with methods and information previously unavailable in diary studies and may expand the range of possibilities in diary study designs.

In psychology & wearable technology

Friday, September 08, 2006

The 'moi-peau' and self mutilation

Researching on how haptics can provide a controlled painful stimulus as a treatment for self mutilation, I found an interesting medical research paper on the relationship between personal physical boundaries and self mutilation.
[The "Moi-peau"], Consoli SG, Med Sci (Paris). 2006 Feb ; 22(2): 197-200.

The author reviews the work of Didier Anzieu, pionneer of the 'moi-peau' concept. Certain persons have not yet acquired the 'moi peau', and use defense mechanims: Among other clinical characteristics, they have a "pathology of action" and frequently attack their own skin, paradoxically, in order to test the solidity and reliability of their own limits.

Because dermatologists frequently receive patients suffering from ereutophobia, dysmorphophobia, tattooing, self-mutilation, artefacta dermatitis, the author suggests that Anzieu bridged dermatologists to psychoanalysts.

Abstract of the paper

To construct a coherent identity, humans must distinguish what belongs to the external, perceived world from what belongs to their own inner world and the inner world of other individuals. Based on the theory developed by S. Freud and on work by ethologists, a number of psychoanalysts (J. Bowlby, R.A. Spitz, D.W. Winnicott, etc.) have underlined the importance of early tactile exchanges with the mother if a child is to become an autonomous individual who feels secure within what he or she perceives to be sound and reliable mental and physical boundaries. More recently, other psychoanalysts (E. Bick, W.R. Bion, etc.) have studied the fantasized mental structures that form the limits between an individual's inner mental space and the external world (including other individuals). As part of this theoretical psychoanalytical movement, Didier Anzieu, a French psychoanalyst, started to develop the concept of the "Moi-peau" in 1974. The "Moi-peau" designates a fantasized reality that a child uses during its early development to represent itself as "me", based on its experience of the body surface. The child, enveloped in its mother's care, fantasizes of a skin shared with its mother: on one side the mother (the outer layer of the "Moi-peau"), and on the other side the child (the inner layer of the "Moi-peau"). These two layers must separate gradually if the child is to acquire its own me-skin. D. Anzieu's work allowed dermatologists and other specialists, such as pediatricians, to focus on the quality of early tactile exchanges between a mother and her child, including the child with a chronic skin disorder. It also helped dermatologists to recognize patients with "borderline" states, which are particularly frequent in dermatology (ereutophobia, dysmorphophobia, tattooing, self-mutilation, artefacta dermatitis). These borderline patients are adults who, as a result of their mental conflicts, adopt defense mechanisms derived from both neurotic and psychotic functioning. Their complaints reflect difficulties with the solidity of their mental and physical limits: their real skin is metaphorically linked to the fantasized mental structure that delimits the individual mental space. Among other clinical characteristics, they have a "pathology of action" and frequently attack their own skin, paradoxically, in order to test the solidity and reliability of their own limits. Finally, D. Anzieu's work encouraged dermatologists to use psychotherapeutic approaches in parallel to classical dermatologic approaches, when necessary, and helped them better understand how psychoanalysts work with patients who have not yet acquired their own "Moi-peau". As a result, D. Anzieu was among the first to reconcile dermatologists and psychoanalysts.

In haptic psycho therapy