Everyone gets stressed out sometimes and mental health is slowly starting to be recognized as a concern for those in today's society. As college students, we experience anxiety and crippling depression first-hand. Our goal was to create a mobile application that will bring some sunshine to those who are feeling these negative emotions. Pawsitivity was the result.
Pawsitivity is an app that combines inspirational quotes to get you motivated and cute cats to deliver you a smile. Users can choose their favorite color cat who will give you a quote when you tap on them.
In honor of Halloween just over a week away, this app also offers 8 different costume choices, such as a mummy, a pineapple, and a chef. We made these customization options with the hope that it brings someone joy while customizing their own special cat!
After selecting your cat, simply tap on the screen for instant motivational quotes!
- Design: Adobe Illustrator
- VCS: Github
- CI/CD: codeship
- Rest API: Node.js <- Heroku
- Database: MongoDB <- Heroku
While the idea of Pawsitivity is very simple and straight forward, we found during our brainstorming process that we envisioned many customization and preferences options for the user. However, these settings, such as updating the color and outfit of the cat in runtime for the users to see, were more challenging that expected.
The group's idea of the app was largely influenced by popular apps on the market that utilize lots of animation to communicate what is happening to the user. We imagined lots of animated snippets to really bring a more professional touch to our application. However, actually implementing moving images was difficult for both building graphics and for coding it in the app, and thus the amount of animation was decreased to a more manageable level during the time period.
One of the biggest aspects of Pawsitivity is the fact that all of the graphics were created from scratch specifically for this project. The members of our group worked together to bring together Halloween-themed designs for the costumes and cats that would make anyone smile!
We also spent considerable time setting up a database and API to keep track of users and their customized cats. This database recognizes if the user already has an account or if a new account must be made.
For some members of this group, this project was their first encounter with Android Studio and building a native Android application.
We also further developed design skills while creating the necessary vector graphics using Adobe Illustrator. Because Adobe products tend to have a high learning curve, we needed to communicate effectively between members to teach and to learn.
The options given to the user are limited in the app at the moment, but we would like to add more customization features, such as naming the cat, choosing between more outfits, and picking different colors of cats (perhaps with a color picker for the adventurous minds).
Our initial plan for Pawsitivity was to create many other animals other than cats, such as puppies, bunnies, polar bears, etc. With more time for implementation and graphics, this is definitely possible and we hope to add them to the collection. We also hope to implement animation for individual animals as well as for the user experience of the entire application as a whole.
Pawsitivity can be gamified by adding more interactions with your pets, such as feeding them and playing with them to increase their health and happiness level. Allowing the user to be in control of the cat might bring some peace to the anxious user by giving them something to nurture. This effect has been shown in the popularity of apps such as Forest (a distraction management application that allows you to plant a virtual tree if you do not use your phone for 30 minutes; if you do use your phone for a non-emergency matter, the tree will die) and Neko Atsume (a game that allows the user to leave out food and toys to gather cats).
One of the biggest things we wanted to communicate to those who suffer from anxiety disorders and/or depression is that they are not alone. We would like to translate this in our application by adding user-to-user communication. The user can take a photo of their pet and quote (or write their own!) and send it to their friends via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
There are times, however, that no matter how cute the pet and how inspiring the quote, the user may need more professional help than we can offer. For these situations, we would like to implement a way for them to reach the services they need, such as hotlines and 911 emergency.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Customization features can go beyond just appearance of the pet. The user will be able to choose from categories of quotes that they would like to see, and we could implement for the application to gradually learn their preferences through machine learning and a rating system for individual quotes.
For situations described earlier that a user requires more services, the application can learn if a user is possibly in need of such help and be able to respond effectively.
After polishing up our app and adding the features we weren't able to get to, we are thinking of releasing it to the Google Play store for real users to download and use. We would love to expand Pawsitivity to iOS as well, where we can reach out to more people who may be suffering from depression or anxiety.
Overall, we really enjoyed building this application and have great hopes for it to move forward as an aid for anyone who can use a smile!