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Danish entrepreneurs have developed a virtual breathing-space for children with ADHD

29/01 2019

Danish entrepreneurs have developed a virtual breathing-space for children with ADHD

Åte VR has developed the prototype “Pusterummet”, in English “Breathing Space”. The project aims to help children with ADHD in primary school to focus in preparation for class.

With their new prototype, Åte VR will create an easily accessible VR-tool for children with ADHD to help them focus and calm them before school. Five minutes in Breathing Space will make the child ready for class.

“We want to help children with ADHD achieve a healthier relationship with their diagnosis. The application can help the child with simple exercises that the child can use in the future to gain better control of disturbances and frustrations.” Ege Jespersen, CEO of Åte VR, explains.

The VR-experience begins at a tropical island, where the user encounters a blowfish, which leads the user underneath the water with deep breaths. At the bottom of the sea, the user can explore and interact with the environment that includes steering a submarine and slide it through the sea, finding the Bubble Cave or controlling the shape or direction of the bubbles. The experience only lasts five minutes, because the point is to calm the children, and not create an experience so gripping that it will cause the child to not want to return to reality.

“A great deal of our vision is to create applications that help users feel independent when helping themselves. It should be tools that the users will only use temporarily. You shouldn’t live a life in VR, but VR can be a great tool and medium to make you calmer and more focused,” Ege Jespersen says.

Åte VR consists of a team of three people with a background in digital design and computer science. Their daily work consists of developing VR-applications for healthcare purposes. Amongst many, they have developed the VR-platform Gonio, which is a psychotherapeutic rehabilitation tool. In 2018, Gonio was nominated for a Danish Design Award in the category ‘Healthy Life’.

A valuable test group

The development of the prototype is a task giving by the EU-project, Cross Motion, where Filmby Aarhus is a partner and is responsible for all activities in Denmark. Breathing Space will be showcased at the final Cross Motion event in Tallinn 20.-21. of February 2019.

During the development of the prototype, Åte VR collaborated with Center for ADHD and Elise Smith School, who have shared their knowledge about children and ADHD and made testing with the target group possible.

“It has been a successful process, most of all from the recognition we have received during the test runs. I wouldn’t even have dared to hope that we got in contact with such great places that could test our system continuously. Surprisingly, they showed a large amount of goodwill for the project.” Ege Jespersen says, and continues:

“Another thing these two places have really given us is eagerness, they have made their facilities available for us so we could do tests with the children that could eventually be an end-user group for us.”

Sensuous and relaxing elements

Creating a calm and relaxing environment for the children to interact in has been one of Åte VR’s priorities. This is why the experience takes place in an underwater environment, where objects and activities are set at a deliberate pace to ensure that the child is relaxed.

“We want to create a space which is effective, can be sensed and has multiple sensuous layers.” Ege Jespersen says.

Åte VR has experienced some challenges, due to the technology having certain limitations. Creating great, sensuous experiences on a mobile device is difficult, because of the limits in terms of the capabilities of the graphic processors. Because of this, they have focused especially on the sound which doesn’t require much computing power. The sound gives a great effect to the experience.

“If children become frustrated it is constructive for them to try to isolate themselves. For example, the children can isolate themselves with VR glasses, but not entirely so that they can’t hear anything. With headphones, the children get an audiovisual experience. The sound completes the illusion.” Ege Jespersen says.

Ege Jespersen and the team are excited about the successful process, but there is still a long way to go.

“It is a project that we really believe in and can continue working with. We have made arrangements with our two collaborators, where we will discuss the future for this project. Without a doubt, something new will happen in 2019. There will be an afterlife for Breathing Space.” Ege Jespersen says.

About “Pusterummet”

A therapeutic tool for children with ADHD through VR, developed by Åte VR. Team: Ege Jespersen, Samuel Jessen and Kenneth Pedersen.

About Cross Motion:

Cross Motion is an EU-based network between the countries of the Baltic Sea Region that offers business development activities and supports the development of the digital visual industry in health, education, and tourism.

For more images from the prototype look below: