The age of COVID has caused a slew of mental health problems for a multitude of people as fear, sickness, and isolation have been unfortunate consequences of this disease. In order to help address the mental health toll COVID has caused and to ease accompanying feelings of isolation, we have developed "COVID-19 Pal".
What it does
"COVID-19 Pal" is a web app where an intelligent chat assistant (named Chloe) seeks to help alleviate the mental health burden during this time by providing an outlet where people can let out any negative feelings. Chloe will respond to mental health triggers in text, ask follow-up questions that allow a user the opportunity to vent, and can provide COVID resources as well.
How we built it
The web app was built with React, the intelligent chat agent was developed through Google Cloud's Dialogflow CX technology, and Kommunicate was used to connect the React web app to the Dialogflow CX agent (chatbot).
We created a mental health agent state machine in DialogFlowCX with a flow of simple dialog. These simple dialogs were arranged according to conversational topics regarding how the user is feeling.
Challenges we ran into
As no one on our team had experience with Dialogflow CX, there was an initial learning curve as team members worked to figure out how to create the Dialogflow CX agent.
Additionally, since there are multiple platforms through which we could've deployed Dialogflow CX (such as web app, mobile app, etc) and there are also multiple ways we could've connected the Dialogflow CX agent to the app, it was a challenge to decide which technologies were best for our purposes. We ultimately decided to use React and Kommunicate based on our team's aesthetics as well as what complemented our skills best.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we were able to get a Dialogflow CX agent successfully working and complete a minimum viable product by the project deadline.
What we learned
We learned how to create agents from technology such as Dialogflow CX. We also learned how to integrate these agents into web apps using technologies such as Kommunicate. Additionally, we learned about the differences in execution for these types of agents when using web vs. mobile apps.
What's next for Covid-19 Pal
Ideally, we would love to expand the chat agent's speech functionality as well as diversify its reactions in order to humanize it more. Additionally, we would like to add a Twilio function so that we can text users to increase engagement with the app to help further decrease feelings of isolation in individuals. Lastly, it would be great to include a feature where users can save mental health resources that the chat agent provided to them that they can access at a later point in time in a folder.