Somatica: A Body Sensation Journal where Patients Log What They Feel in Their Bodies and Associate It with an Emotion

Somatica is a body sensation journal where patients can log what they feel in their bodies, and associate it with emotion, if and when they discover that connection. 

We began with team formation. All the members of the team were interested in creating a clinical app of some sort. 

The Team

Last year Rashi Abramson participated in the mental health hackathon and created a bed inventory system, where nurses can call a phone tree and exchange bed occupancy information. He was eager to tackle a similar space again. He is currently working as a software engineer, and wrote the computer code for the team. 

Jennifer Osugi, a current student at the University of Washington, was studying Psychology. She was excited to learn how hackathons functioned and wanted to further her understanding of technology and learn cutting edge ideas in mental health. She brought her Psychology knowledge to help with design brainstorming and implementation.

Kelvin Tamayo is a Cloud Change Manager at Ultimate Software making a shift into learning UX and Design and wanted a place to practice his craft.

Saphonia Foster is a mission-driven entrepreneur and consultant, and her deep personal interest in mental health and consciousness hacking brought her to the hackathon. She attends hackathons that focus on social justice and public well-being. She brought passion and curiosity to the design process, and focused on marketing and the hackathon pitch.

Annie Chen is a therapist and author of The Attachment Theory Workbook. She contributed valuable insight into what clinicians are and aren’t looking for. 

Cassandra Marzke contributed her experience interning in the industry to shape the product.

Evelyn Kuo could not attend the entire time, but helped with the brainstorming process.

The Product

We built the product without coming into the hackathon with a clear idea, but rather refining a general direction by talking with the various professionals that showed up. We created a creative space where we could go through many different designs and pick the ones we most wanted to focus on. 

Most of our time was spent creating elaborate plans that would have been difficult to implement in the time we had. We brainstormed using Generative Adversarial Networks on biosensors to create interesting art pieces. We also thought about creating a journal that tracked emotion using semantic analysis. Woebot does that very well at the moment, and we wanted to look further. We realized that we shared a common goal; we wanted to remove the communication barrier between patients and clinicians when describing emotions. We felt that building out a body map was simple enough that we could implement it, while also maximizing the impact we could have for clinicians and patients.

Somatic therapy focuses on the connection between body, mind, and emotion. It helps patients gain a working understanding of themselves and their world based on an integrated, collaborative relationship between these three felt parts. We wanted to help bring people into mindful awareness of the body sensations that accompany their emotions. The group felt that, both from a clinicians perspective and from a patients perspective, this could help people be clearer about what they feel and more confident to communicate it.


We built
Somatica.

somatica1.jpeg

Somatica is a body mapping tool that allows patients to draw where they feel sensations on a mannequin. It can be saved with an emotion and referenced to build up a mind-body connection. Ultimately Somatica could be used as supplemental tool for patients being treated for mood, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders as well as an educational tool appropriate for sub-clinical conditions like alexithymia, where people have a loss of words for emotions. In a low tech, artful, fashion it can be used to facilitate a patient to be aware of feelings and communicate them with more ease.

We felt there were many directions we could expand upon. We could make the mannequin in 3D, allowing for a more fine-tuned and nuanced user experience. We thought about adding Snapchat-like drawing features, so that smiley faces or other emoji and colors could label emotions on a body. We considered doing machine learning on the historical body log, so we could guess what emotion you’re feeling from your body input.

When we went to judging we were ecstatic to see that our design and brainstorming session paid off. Albert Wong, a director of Somatic Psychology at John F. Kennedy University saw great promise in what we made. He helped us brainstorm further on different paths we could take the project.

We had a great time at Hack Mental Health this year, and hope to see you there next year.

Written by Rashi Abramson