We have a few friends who are afflicted with ADHD and we have witnessed firsthand how debilitating and inconvenient the disorder can be. ADHD diagnosis is very complicated and time-consuming -- it can take up to 6-9 months and thousands of dollars. In addition, ADHD diagnosis is based on a variety of subjective factors and there is no definitive, quantifiable way to diagnose it. To add, treatment of the disorder can be a hassle as well, as it often involves usage of a suite of stimulants such as Adderall, all of which come equipped with side effects (such as appetite loss and depressive feelings). We wanted to create a VR solution to this problem that can provide both a diagnostic and treatment mechanism for ADHD.
What it does
The VR world we created presents three exercises that test different diagnostic criteria for ADHD:
- Restlessness: Three concentric cylinders surround the user and confine him/her in a very tight space. User will be bombarded with distractions outside the cylinders (such as flashing lights & moving objects), but is instructed to stay still in the exact same position (without moving outside the cylinders).
- Ability to concentrate while performing a task that involves sustained mental effort: User has to connect the dots and solve a maze without touching the sides of the maze.
- Reaction time: The user has to respond to flashing dots appear and disappear on the screen.
How we built it
Our Virtual Reality simulation is built in C# in Unity for the HTC Vive. We used Firebase as our backend service, as well as the IBM Watson API and Unity SDK for emotional analysis. We used the Nexmo API to send user feedback directly to their therapists, so a medical professional is always being updated.
Challenges we ran into
Setting up the web server, for one, took a very long time!!! We initially tried a Python server, but it didn't work. Thus, we opted to use a Firebase Realtime Database instead. None of the team members had experience with speech to text before either. The IBM Watson SDK for Unity was a bit outdated, so it was difficult to integrate at first.
What's next for reVIVE
Due to time constraints and for demonstration purposes, we decided to focus on ADHD as the primary use case of our app. However, we plan to expand the use cases of this app to a book of other mental disorders as well, such as anxiety. We would also love to implement a machine learning algorithm to quantify the user data we receive from the app. In the future, we want to make the app more refined and start working on bringing our solution to real patients for testing.
We are honored and excited to say that we were the First Place winners of the 2017 TechCrunch Disrupt NY Hackathon. We hope to further develop our app and continue on the journey to making ADHD diagnosis more accessible and effective.