Lacu: a safe, private environment to take a break from reality

Industrial Design Student 2015

Ben Moffatt
Royal College of Art / Imperial College London

Ben Moffatt is designing a way to help combat stress and anxiety in today’s society. His project, Lacu, is a wall-mounted soundproof area to converse, reflect on a problem and realise a solution all by oneself. It is designed to be a stepping stone between having an issue and seeking professional help by encouraging the user to verbalise their problems or anxieties, and thereby stimulate different areas of the brain, which can help provide a solution in a similar way to cognitive behavioural therapy.

Lacu houses an artificial intelligence which prompts and detects keywords that users say, and provides a visual representation of what is being said. The interior is designed to induce a feeling of infinity and ‘speaking outwards’. At the end of each session, it provides a printout receipt, which gives a redacted overview of what was said. The main application of Lacu is in the workplace, where the AI can securely and anonymously analyse macro issues and flag them as areas in need of remedy.

In 2015, there were 488,000 recorded cases of work related stress depression or anxiety in the UK. It accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health. Recent research has also suggested that it can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

A study published in the British Medical Journal reported patients with severe depression can benefit as much from Talking Therapies as they do from anti-depressant medication. The aim is that Lacu can provide this outlet and tackle the problem at an early stage.

Ben is developing Lacu in collaboration with Eun Kyung Shin, Chih Chiu and Ken Fujiyoshi.