Dayoung Hong’s masters thesis, Pygmalion, is about creating systems to empower people with social anxiety disorder—aiming to build upon the Pygmalion effect—also known as the “self-fulfilling prophecy”. The Pygmalion effect, named after an Ancient Greek myth of a sculptor falling in love with his own works that comes to life, is the phenomenon whereby high expectations can positively performance.

 

 

"By helping people build higher expectations in their social interactions, I hope to improve their ability to feel more comfortable in social situations.

 

Dayoung's thesis was driven by personal motivation: Her brother has suffered from social anxiety from a very young age, and she has witnessed how hard and debilitating living with that disorder can be. Dayoung remarks, “People suffering from social anxiety disorder often believe they are the only people in the world with that problem, and normally do not seek help. Those who do eventually give up on it, often because finding and meeting therapists is expensive and time-consuming. My thesis therefore focuses on treating people with social anxiety through digital platforms and technology—which are accessible to almost everyone." Dayoung designed four interventions—two focusing on self-help strategies, and two used within group settings.

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The Boggart app helps you practice navigating social situations by providing "missions" with clear steps to follow.

 

Boggart
Boggart is a VR simulation app that helps people with social anxiety disorder to practice confronting social situations. Dayoung chose the name from the Harry Potter series—in which the boggart is a shape-shifting creature that takes the form of a person’s worst fear.

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The main feature of Boggart is that it syncs with Google Calendar and creates virtual simulations based on the event details—such as location and confirmed guests. Boggart creates virtual environments using data from Google Street View, and creates avatars of attendees for users to interact with.

In the VR simulation, Boggart helps you practice navigating social situations by providing "missions" with clear steps to follow.  After completing the mission, users will receive results and feedback from Boggart to help improve their social skills.

 

When the earpiece is touched, Cyrano helps the user replace their negative thoughts by providing live chat advice, applying Cognitive Restructuring Method—a CBT technique that involves identifying and disputing irrational negative thoughts.

 

Cyrano
Cyrano is an artificial intelligence (A.I.) live advisor that replaces your irrational, often-negative thoughts with positive ones. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder often have irrational, negative thought patterns and jump to quick conclusions. Dayoung designed this feature in the form of an earpiece that provides advice—contextually, and in the moment.

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When the earpiece is touched, Cyrano helps the user replace their negative thoughts by providing live chat advice, applying Cognitive Restructuring Method—a CBT technique that involves identifying and disputing irrational negative thoughts.

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AR Friend Match has the potential to be used as a new kind of "greeting interaction method" during parties or social events.

 

AR Friend Match
AR Friend Match is a networking event where people can meet and facilitate friendships through the use of Augmented Reality Stickers. “When we meet strangers at a party or an event," Dayoung reasons, "it is often difficult to start a conversation—even if we don’t suffer from social anxiety disorder. Simply matching these augmented reality stickers can act as an icebreaker, so that people can easily start conversations free from social pressure.

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AR Friend Match has the potential to be used as a new kind of "greeting interaction method" during parties or social events.

 

Oori combines the benefit of fidgeting—a common habit for anxious people—with the opportunity to find new friends easily.

 

Oori
People with social anxiety sometimes think they are the only person suffering from this disorder, especially when they are in public places. Oori—meaning 'we' or 'us' in Korean—is a smart fidget ring that can connect people plagued with social anxiety.

Dayoung found that people with social anxiety disorder trust feedback from those who suffer from the same symptoms. "There are bloggers who share their own stories related to social anxiety disorder publicly on the Internet, for example, and share how they deal with the symptoms. But there's no 'live' platform for people to share their stories. That's why I conceived of Oori.

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Oori combines the benefit of fidgeting—a common habit for anxious people—with the opportunity to find new friends easily. It consists of an LED screen and a trackball. Fidgeting with the trackball illuminates the screen, and the device begins locating a potential friend who is also fidgeting with an Oori ring. Here, the platform creates an opportunity for an in-person conversation with a stranger who suffers from the same disorder.

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Dayoung hopes technology can play a role in having  a positive effect on the lives of people suffering from social anxiety disorder, and that her products and services will be of help to many.

 

Learn more about Dayoung Hong's work at dayoung-hong.com, and contact her at hdy0817[at]gmail[dot]com.