Grieving for the loss of a loved one is an arduous process requiring comfort, support and grief resources. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) carries the monumental task of doing just that for the families and loved ones of fallen military heroes. Their extensive network of support for survivors of all ages, from seminars to programs to personal counseling, is unparalleled.
After visiting their headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and from several in depth discussions with survivors, counselors, and staff members alike we learned that even within the same family the grieving process looks different for everyone, and that children have the most difficult time processing such tragic events. So, we decided to put our skills to use to create a first of its kind Augmented Reality (AR) grief therapy tool. It would connect guardians to their child suffering from the loss of a loved one in such a way that would help them better understand the grief process of that particular child, while offering support and resources for the caring adult.
- Concepting – Our goal was to use an AR enabled TAPS app to engage and lead a child through a proven grieving protocol following direction from the TAPS team of professional certified counselors. Through a physical, illustrated coloring companion book and a TAPS AR app, a child would be led through the grieving process at their own pace while interacting with digital and AR components. In real time their responses would be reported back to the supervising adult who would then receive notifications of the child’s responses, as well as, include suggestions on how to relate and engage along with offering the appropriate resources to support the adult’s comforting efforts.
- Scripting & Storyboarding – Our first task would be to develop an engaging and relatable story in which to wrap the educational grief information, physical book, and technology components. Our team of writers, illustrators, and animators would form the visual and written narrative that would be the foundation of a healing journey.
- Merging the Physical and Digital – Now with a storybook and its physical and digital characters established, it was time to set a digital framework in place to accompany the story to add the layers of interactivity and content that would set it apart. To do so, we would need to rely on gamification, rewards, and an easy to use interface that would appeal to a large demographic of children ages 6-12.
- Connecting the Dots – The magic of this grief therapy tool solution lies in its ability to engage a child through both physical and digital play. As a child moves their way through the book coloring, at any time the story can transition seamlessly from a coloring book to an animated adventure that adds layers of interactivity and inquisition, which can then be logged and reported back to the guardian.
- Making it Last – Through gamification and the ability to add fresh content, the life span of the book and the mobile app can be extended to better support the healing journey. This allows the child the freedom to heal at their own pace, return to and edit responses, and see their own growth as the app content reflects the point where they are in the process.