Designing for psychiatry – how design support coping in a psychological crisis

DfI student Maik de Rooij graduated on a concept called Glowb. Glowb has been designed for Karakter – a psychiatric hospital for adolescents – as a graduation project for Design for Interaction. Glowb supports patients in the psychiatric ward coping with a psychological crisis. It is an elastic sphere hanging down from the ceiling in the comfort room that facilitates both an aggressive and an intimate interaction.
The product reacts on the user’s action by moving forward by force, swinging back to its basic position, and lighting up. When it lights up, the product projects light patterns on the walls of the comfort room that change in colour. The product will respond differently to different actions of the user, as the light will increase in brightness when the product accelerates.
It helps the patient coping by supporting in different phases of a psychological crisis, where the patient experiences different emotional states. The patient is able to find out what way of interacting with Glowb supports him or her the best in a psychological crisis, which helps in finding the right coping strategy for him or her.

Glowb user test

An evaluation study has been executed with an interactive prototype of Glowb. Patients experienced the prototype as an objective reflection of their emotional state, and they could find a focus in the pattern and change of colours. Therefore, the product supports coping with a psychological crisis.