Design approach

Value-Based Design Methodology

This task will study how to implement and adapt the Value Based Design methodology so that it can be used for the purposes of this project and beyond. We draw from the Value Sensitive Design approach, that aims to design technologies that embody ethical values and incorporates value dynamisms.  What is experienced as ‘compassionate’ is likely to change when technologies open new possibilities to care in a compassionate way. For instance, implementing and using innovative technologies will influence the relationships between clients and mental health professionals, and re-define central values of this relationship, such as compassion. The re-defined relationship dynamics will, in turn, influence how stakeholders evaluate and accept the technology. Therefore, understanding value dynamics, as well as understanding their influence on the design process is essential for the development of the design methodology. We will evaluate how use (and adoption) of technology have influenced the initial value frameworks. 

Innovative Compassionate Technology

Recent advances in automatic human behaviour analysis and interaction technologies offer innovative solutions in monitoring and coaching clients with the aim of working towards a more self-management focused mental healthcare system. We will study how innovative technologies for recognition of human behaviour and user interaction can contribute to more compassionate and engaging self-management of mental health. We will focus on technologies for on body recognition and interaction (wearable sensors and haptic coaching systems), technologies that allow interaction with interactive devices (including dialogue systems and conversational agents) and recognition of behaviour and interaction in the environment (ubiquitous systems making use of light and/or sound).  

The Balancial

The Balancial has been designed during the Multisensory Design course, by Carolien van den Bosch, Casper Hazebroek, Dieuwke Haagsma, Mirre van den Bos, Thomas van den Berg and Yfke Dotinga, under supervision of Benedetta Lusi. In the course, the students were asked to design a product or system that supports fellow students who are experiencing anxiety or depression.


The main purpose of this device is to help a student restructure their thoughts, thus improving their skill for compassion. Balancial essentially is a balance on which the user can put their thoughts. First, a balance is created by one’s thoughts at moment A. For example, one might have expectations on what will happen. During a later therapy session, moment B, the positioning of the blocks is settled again to the actual experience. Differences between these moments are discovered and form input for the conversation between patient and therapist. In contrast to existing online reflective tools, Balancial offers patients a physical tool that should help them express their thoughts.

 In this research project, the therapeutic journey and the functionalities have been investigated by mapping the steps of the journey and validation through interviews. In addition, as technology played an important role in the initial design, different scenarios for the involvement of technology were developed. Together with therapists and other researchers within the Compassionate Technology Project, a reflection on these scenarios took place and considerations for future development and implementation were described. 

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