A Conversational AI Counselor
Aaina is an AI mobile counselor that offers a safe space for reflection and connects you with in-person support when you need it.
The Aaina experience is designed to be a bridge to therapy, not a substitute. It helps you reflect while tracking keywords and emotions during sessions to help you better understand your own journey.
Context | CMU MDes Fall 2018 IxD Studio I 6 weeks (Oct 22th ~ Dec 5th)
Team | Corine Britto, Carlie Guilfoile, Tithi Jasani
Role | Mainly contributed in visual design(UI), interaction design, prototyping
Tools | Sketch, Principle, Adobe AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop
"For users, Conversational AI offers for the first time a means to interact with technology using their own words. For technology to understand them, not the other way around."
- Andy Peart, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Artificial Solutions
How might we visualize AI to support client's emotion?
How might we use Conversational AI to seamlessly connect clients to in-person therapy?
We framed our design challenge based on the following observations:
Psychotherapy is more about emotion. Thus, we should approach in different ways to visualize our AI therapist.
Clients usually cannot visit therapists as frequently as they want because of lack of time or money, which makes each session to be disconnected.
LESS PRODUCTIVE SESSIONS
If it is the first visit for a client to a therapist, they should spend quite much time to get to know each other and the contexts of the client's problems.
With our objectives in mind, we visualized the face of our AI therapist to give a feeling of calmness and comfort. Then, we designed the whole service system to support both clients and therapists so that in-person therapy becomes more productive.
CURRENT EXISTING THERAPY APP
In general, types of therapy application can be divided into 5; one-on-one chat app, support group chat room, one-on-one video counseling, counseling from a team of therapists that act as a singular voice, automated mood & habit tracking application.
It is a chatbot therapist created by Stanford psychologists. It uses daily chat conversations, mood tracking, curated video, and word video to help manage mental health of clients. The people who designed this service said the biggest barrier to therapy was a human stigma.
Customizable chatbot that therapists can use to keep their patients engaged. It gives the doctor a full record of the chats, along with an analysis of frequently used positive and negative words.
VOICE USER INTERFACE
: FASTER, EASIER, MORE NATURAL, MORE CONVENIENT and more ACCESSIBILE
VUI itself is not suitable to provide a list of information
Human beings subconsciously equate the sound of human speech with personality
PERSONA OF AI & CLIENTS
Then, we designed the persona of AI counselor. We thought it might be suitable to design the AI persona reflecting on characteristics of general therapists. But we also added some specific characteristics to her.
Aaina means 'Mirror' in Indian. We named our AI counselor as Aaina because our service provides mental supports to clients by letting them reflecting on themselves.
The most important characteristic is that she is not the replacement of in-person therapist. Instead, she acts as a bridge to therapy and connects seamlessly between the sessions with in-person therapists.
Our clients might use the AI therapy service in a more personalized space. Since many people feel more emotionally sensitive at night before going to bed, our clients mainly communicate with our AI counselor on the bed.
(reference images collected through Pinterest.com)
We began exploring a ‘humanistic’ forms and shapes for the visual of our counselor. Our explorations involved simple lines and shapes to depict supportive gestures and counselor engagement in the course of the conversation.
How might we dissolve human gestures into abstract, simple shapes?
ABSTRACT FORM with emotions
Sad / Disappointed
ABSTRACT FORM with human gestures
It's more important to focus on how might client feel from Aaina than how Aaina can show various emotions or gestures
FINAL FORM OF AAINA
Aaina was designed based on the inspiration from the deep blue sea. We thought that a quiet sea, one of the representative nature, gives a feeling of calmness to people.
Also, we thought that users might make a conversation with Aaina at night when they become emotionally sensitive. Thus, dark bluish or greenish colors might be suitable for that context.
The form of Aaina is designed to visualize what she says and her motions. The shape is inspired by a water bubble or blob.
Initiating a therapy session. By touching the rounded square, users can start sessions and talk with Aaina. This interaction can make users more engaging.
When Aaina speaks, the outer dots move outwards according to its tone and visualize her voice.
3) TRANSITION - SPEAKING TO LISTENING
Aaina goes a little bit back and gives space to a user so that he/she could tell more about themselves in a comfortable atmosphere. It is designed based on the human behaviors of leaning back when they start to listen. This motion could show that Aaina is concentrating on the conversation and users' voice.
When Aaina listens, in other words, when a user speaks, the dots move in the opposite direction, inwards. It is designed to visualize the users' voices because this feature could give an opportunity for users to reflect on themselves.
Aaina shows unique gestures when she asks questions or prompting.
6) WAITING / DEFAULT
Aaina's slow but continuous movement makes users comfortable.
We considered these following questions:
How would Aaina help the user transition from AI support to a real, in-person therapist? Would it happen over a conversation and who would initiate?
What language would the AI use to recommend that the user go see someone in person? What would trigger that conversation?
How would the user engage in next steps? How hands-on does the user want to be in choosing a therapist and booking an appointment?
How can an AI and professional therapist best support each other? How might we leverage the data Aaina has been tracking to provide a better in-person service for the user? How can we both educate the user about their data and give them a choice around sharing?
What key information does the user need to know in order to choose a therapist they feel good/confident about?
For visualizing emotion, we conducted some research on colors and shapes. According to the research conducted by a famous psychologist, we could find basic criteria for grouping a wide range of emotions into 5 categories. Also, we could match each of them with specific colors and shapes like this.
Using a white background, we had to compromise with the fact that it does not look like having the same brand image with Aaina. However, we thought for the users’ perspective, it might be better to visualize and read data.
STAGE 01. Clients talk with Aaina whenever they want
STAGE 02. Aaina recommends therapists to a client
If you want to supplement your sessions with in-person therapy, Aaina can recommend counselors in your area that specialize in talking to people just like users. Users can learn about each therapist in detail because therapists can upload a self-introducing video.
Then, client schedules appointment with therapist
STAGE 03. Client selects and sends their data to therapist
In order to help therapists learn more about users before starting the session, Aaina suggests to send data which is collected from conversation with Aaina or other mobile application such as Apple Health.
Users can select categories that they want to share with the therapist. Before starting to share data, Aaina confirms the user by voice so that users don't have to worry about personal information leakage by others.
STAGE 04. DASH BOARD - Thrapist receives data from Aaina
With the help of Aaina, the therapist will use their dashboard to make meaningful connections with the data you've shared.
STAGE 05. Therapist can provide more productive sessions
No matter when you see the therapist, Aaina makes the transition easy. Through a secure network, your therapist can view and track your progress so that you can tackle your depression holistically.
A CHANGE OF EMOTIONS
Therapists can learn the flow of emotions in details between the in-person sessions. Even though clients cannot meet therapists very often, therapists can easily follow the mood changes of clients through Aaina.
Therapists can take notes and easily connect them with clients' words or emotions.
STAGE 06. Therapist send action plans to Aaina
If you would like, at the end of your session, your therapist can send your action plan to Aaina, so that she can support your journey between sessions.
Copyright 2019 Jaeyeon Huh. All rights reserved.