BodyGuard as graduation subject

By Marjolein Lunenborg, intern

An eHealth-application that can warn people with pervasive development disorder for stress? Consisting of a design object – a Pebble – and an app? That sounded interesting! I was looking for a subject for my graduation paper and this was the kind of project I was looking for. The Creative Care Lab of Waag and the project BodyGuard closely followed my interests. To let users participate in innovation is a noble pursuit, in my view. The credo of the Creative Care Lab ‘real needs for real people’ gives direction and meaning to a user-driven technological development of innovation in healthcare.

After Paulien Melis and Sabine Wildevuur had described BodyGuard to me with much enthusiasm, I picked up this project. I read a lot about the subject and the earlier developments. At the moment I became involved, a number of prototypes had already been tested with users and a preliminary study to market the application had been made.

In the meantime, I could join the ongoing user experience tests with BodyGuard. This gave me an idea of the impact of testing such a device with people with autism. They are sensitive for changes in their daily routine and testing BodyGuard certainly meant a disturbance of that routine. In general, most people were enthusiastic about the idea of getting warned when they are in stress. The tests led to useful feedback for the further enhancement of the Pebble and the app.

The outlines of my thesis were formed and the moment to collect data was coming. I tested the BodyGuard to answer the central question: how can BodyGuard contribute to self management of people suffering from pervasive development disorder when exposed to stress on the workplace. During two weeks, people tried out the device at their workplace. They and their job coaches were interviewed beforehand and afterwards. I also researched the future possibility of visualizing the registered stress data in a care portal of the Dr. Leo Kannerhuis.

The outcome of my research was that BodyGuard can contribute to self management at stress situations as a persuasive system, by enhancing the controllability awareness in situations where one can speak of personal control. BodyGuard could contribute to the ability of clients to cope independently with stress when insight would be provided through the care portal. To make the system more persuasive, some changes should be applied to it. More details about my research can be found in this link to a pdf of my thesis (only available in Dutch).