An Inpatient Smoking Cessation Experience

The University of Texas at Austin (UT), with funding from the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute of Texas (CPRIT), wanted to create a 40-minute smoking cessation iPad experience for patients discharged from the hospital who identified themselves as smokers. Over ten years ago, they experienced success with a digital intervention they built themselves. Now they were looking for a technology partner to help them revamp it. What distinguishes this intervention is its use of the counseling style and strategies of Motivational Interviewing. It explores participants’ values, goals, and experiences related to their psychiatric symptoms and smoking habits and offers tailored reflections and feedback relevant to the participant’s responses. The intervention also featured Peedy the parrot, who served as a counselor figure and guided participants through the experience.

At Brain Spice, we have extensive knowledge of designing and developing apps aligning with researchers’ goals to aid them in their conducted studies. (include links to Impact and VCU projects) When UT approached us about the project, we knew we wanted to create an app that users felt was aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, one that engages users to get the most out of the Motivational Interviewing style intervention. There were a few significant elements where we leveraged our skills:

  • Creating and animating a set of six 3D characters to serve as counselors.
  • Producing high-quality short videos of a physician and former smokers.
  • Integration of REDcap to capture data for clinical research.

The Counselors

In the previous version of the intervention, participants positively reacted to Peedy the Parrot, the animated character that served as the counselor. This time, UT wanted a group of counselors that users could choose from. Our artist created three unique concepts, and after a few adjustments with thoughts from the UT team, they were ready for our first round of user interviews. After all the interviews concluded, the feedback from potential users was clear. They unanimously chose the 3D characters. Once we knew which character set to use for the experience, we started the technical work to prepare the 3D models for animation. In parallel, our in-house and contracted VO artists recorded the twenty-three-page script. Once both the 3D character models and VO were ready, it was time for the facial animation magic. The characters came to life to serve as counselors.

Video Production of the Physician and Testimonial Videos

Another key feature of the app is four short videos that share advice from a physician and real-life testimonials from former smokers. Brain Spice managed all the preparations: hiring actors, wardrobe specialists, and makeup artists, scouting and booking shooting locations, and acquiring all video, lighting, and sound equipment. During production days, our in-house producer and director worked closely with the client and the actors to ensure we captured all necessary footage. Our video editors took hours of footage alongside supplemental media (b-roll, images, motion graphics) and produced four incredible high-quality videos.

REDcap Integration

A vital requirement from the UT team was to incorporate the ability for the app to export data to the university/grant-approved database, REDcap. We set up data collection systems to work with Google Firebase, Google Analytics, and Microsoft Analytics for other experiences. Our developers used that proficiency to set up the REDcap API. The app successfully sends all required data to the UT team’s REDcap dashboard once a participant finishes a session to use in their study.

The study is now active and running for the next three years. We will continue to provide support and maintenance to ensure the app works smoothly for the UT team as they conduct their study. This includes corrective/perfective/adaptive maintenance, proactive QA, support of data collection through REDcap, and quarterly reports.

Blog Post

Related Articles

VR Experiences: Cubism Review

An Addicting & Challenging VR Puzzle Game Cubism by Cubism VR is another game where once you start, you can’t ever...

Do Games Influence People?

The Fear of Games Moral panic surrounding games has made headlines and stoked fears for decades. Dungeons & Dragons was...

What IS Gamification?

Gamification is the addition of gameplay elements such as goals, rules, and activities to a task with the hope of...