Designing for Emotional health - I. The Customer of Self



I have been working on some product prototypes on developing technology for behavioral health and wish to jot down my thoughts here on possibly helpful e-solutions that may benefit users on a regular basis. My app- www.satiapp.com is a digital health intervention based on the following premise.

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Although I am a strong advocate of encouraging people to move into deep Amazon rainforests, build huts and meditate for the rest of their lives, I understand that some of us like to lean on the other Amazon a lot more :). Whichever Amazon you choose if you seek health and happiness I do wish for all to get as much benefit as possible.

Data Visualization
The biggest advantage of using technology is the brilliant value data visualizations add to our attention/retention deficit minds. If I had to describe data visualization in simple words it would be this- being able to see a juggernaut of information in a way that makes sense. If you get a Eureka moment while looking at your data, someone has done a brilliant job of the visualization! There is always an ideal user for each product, but in this case most solutions will work in some way for all who agree to struggle somewhat with the mind. The main theme behind it all is what the old wisdom has taught us time and again and what is fundamentally key to mental health and happiness- Self Awareness and Practice.

Data - by the self, to the self and for the self
What if we could glance at our minds just like we watched the movies? Remember watching the beautiful animation movie- Inside Out? The movie showcases all our emotions and neuro-bio-chemicals (serotonin and such) as if they were larger than life characters having personalities of their own helping us understand the role they play in the functioning of our minds as we follow the story-line. Dint you feel a little wiser about yourself when you walked out of the movie theater that day? What if we could do this for real? What if we could see our heroic-ness or timidity in great detail on a dashboard of beautiful visualizations, bubble charts or histograms as and when we liked? (Of course when nobody is watching ;)) In other words- see ourselves unravel over time! Does this sound interesting? Wouldn't this be a whole new level for the Selfie? There is a caveat... yes. We will have to do some work.

With the relentless market and data science focus on acquiring and retaining our business customers, how about this also lean strategy for acquiring and retaining the customer of self.

--- The only data you can truly own and verify is your own data ---

Web App - Data Visualization of our mind patterns-  (www.satiapp.com)

Premise/design-
My recent learnings from working with Non profits in Behavioral Health as well as my own experience of exploring my mind as a mindfulness meditator has convinced me that we cannot be happy if we do not know how to be in the present. This has inspired me to work towards developing Digital Interventions that employ reality-based thinking to impact our happiness and wellbeing. My app works on the basic premise that self-awareness is key to our mental health and it can be developed by training the mind through repeated self-observation of our own cognitive interpretation biases especially where uncertainty about future is present. The app banks on self-reported data and powerful data visualizations to help us bridge the gap between true realities and  imagined futures.

Technology-
I used Flask - a Python microframework for web development and REST API design- it was very simple to learn and use. It already comes with it's own development server and ORM layer-SQLAlchemy. Since Data Visualization is an important part of this app, I explored both Python libraries- Plotly and Bokeh for Charts/plotting and found them equally useful. For the Database I used Postgres and web-hosted the app on AWS-EC2 with nginx/Gunicorn.

Conference-
Presented at 4th Integrative Conference on technology, Social Media and Behavioral Health.



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