“Every day you look at yourself in the mirror. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the night, sometimes during the day, but there is nothing like a mirror that will confront you,” said Vinay Manda, chief data scientist at ORU. “You have to face yourself in the mirror.”
It is more than a physical reflection, rather the user is forced to look inward, access said emotions, and learn more about oneself.
"I could be shaving in the morning. Somebody could be doing their hair, if they had it, and I can see the entire knowledge of the world coming into the smart TV behind this mirror,” said Michael Mathews, ORU VP for technology & Innovation. “Now we can bring everybody's intelligence together in bite sized pieces on the mirror."
Mathews said the idea for the MQ-Mirror was to combine Alexa, a camera, and the PC Raspberry Pi to create a form of mirrored intelligence. He said it has taken years to develop and several renderings before creating the complete product—a mirror that reflects 30% and allows 70% visibility of the smart TV behind it. Mathews told News On 6 you can speak into the mirror, which is programmed with thousands of commands to help individuals look at their grades, take online courses, look at their mental health, connect with orthopedic surgeons, and access various practical resources.
"This could be in my bathroom, living room, classroom,” Mathews said. “The world has shifted in the last two years and the pandemic has helped tremendously.”
Mathews has been in the field of technology for 25 years and told us his goal is to use these technological tools to nudge people in the right direction. He said most people suffer from some form of identity.
“When most people leave a medical clinic or a drug rehab place the residual rate is very low, but if we could monitor or let them monitor themselves and report back in a very healthy manner it would change the way we see mental health, drug rehab and many other aspects of the medical field,” Mathews said.
The MQ-Mirror allows people to take the national depression test without anyone watching; users can even have the tv recite positive, affirming thoughts back to them.
Jessica Angsomwine is Mathews’ daughter and a former student at ORU who helped design the MQ-Mirror. Angsomwine said she struggled with depression in college and wishes she could have had a resource like this at her disposal.
“I didn't want to tell anybody. I didn't know where to go for help. I did not even understand why I was feeling how I did. And looking back at my time as a student, I was young and probably thought I knew everything, but moving away as a college student, living on your own, having the course load that most students do is a lot” said Angsomwine. “And so, having the mirror in the comfort of your own home, privacy of your own room and being able to get answers or seek help [is helpful]."
Angsomwine said it forces you to do some self-reflecting, but from an unbiased source in a setting that strips the stigma.
"Having struggled with depression, you almost don't want to face yourself. You do not want to look into the mirror. You kind of just almost want to hide,” Angsomwine said. “So, to kind of put the mirror and suddenly have to face yourself and, in a subtle way, have to look at yourself I think is kind of one step to kind of confronting what issues you’re having.”
Dr. Jason Beaman is the chair of the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Science. Dr. Beaman said he is thrilled to work with the MQ-Mirror and use his knowledge to advance the technology.
“What we’ve done here is really get ahead of the curve of the mental health pandemic that is occurring with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Beaman. “We are able now to allow people to receive treatment really using cutting edge technology without ever leaving their house.”
The technology can monitor individuals’ symptoms and allow medical professionals to reply with medication changes.
“People are more comfortable talking to an AI versus a human because they don’t want to be judged. They don’t want to feel condemned for who they are,” Manda said.
Dr. Beaman said right now they are using the most common measurements of the most common mental health conditions. People can take depression and anxiety tests which are uploaded to the cloud for physician to then access.
"One of the biggest problems I have as a psychiatrist is my patients don't show up,” said Dr. Beaman. “Nobody wants to be seen going into the psychiatrist's office. Nobody wants to say that I have a mental illness and I need help."
Currica Clarke is a grad student and an IT admin assistant at Oral Roberts University. Clarke said this is a great way for students to privately become more proactive about taking care of their mental health.
“It’s taking away the stigma. It is taking away the extra work that they would have to do, and it is giving it to them in their hands. It is putting the power in the hands of students. In our hands, and it is telling us, ‘Okay you have this now and you can do whatever you like with it,’” Clarke said.
Doctors can now follow up with patients more frequently, using a systematic regular screening. They do not have to wait for patients to reach out or make the commute, Dr. Beaman said, rather access information and help monthly, weekly, or even bi-weekly.
The MQ-Mirror is programmed to pick up on cues, symptoms of addiction, relapse, or mental health concerns.
"Using biometrics, and the ability to measure posture and eye changes and all of that stuff as your mental health changes is just incredible,” Dr. Beaman said.
The mirror can connect people to therapists and provide mental health exercises such as watching breathing exercises where their lungs are mirrored to visualize how much they are expanding and contracting.
“If you think about mental healthcare now, it requires the patient in Oklahoma often to drive hours, hundreds of miles to see a psychiatrist and wait 6 months, and for what reason? To get a piece of paper that’s a prescription. All of that can be done remotely. We know that mental health is treatable, but we have got to get patients to engage. The mirror allows that engagement to occur,” Dr. Beaman said.
Larry Moss is the digital architect for the project.
“I basically design, program, and create. The whole nine yards just to try and make it work,” Larry Moss said.
Moss said this is a very intriguing yet complicated piece of technology.
“You have no idea what a person’s going to say, so you really have to kind of go through the whole conversation and map out the whole conversation from point A to point B,” said Moss. “What’s a possible thing somebody could say?”
If someone were to answer a question presented such as “have you had trouble sleeping,” Moss said the obvious answer would be yes or no, but someone could say “you bet.” He said you must program for all types of answers and make it conversational.
“Hearing Mike’s passion and Dr. Beaman’s passion for the project or vision and then seeing the need from Dr. Beaman, you know, it enabled me to get kind of a visual of what it’s supposed to do. I could see the whole thing in my mind, and I could see from front to end how this thing was supposed to work,” Moss said.
Moss said he does not want to stop here, and he will not. They plan to continue to advance the MQ-Mirror going forward.
Clarke said one of the remarkable things about Moss’ design is how user-friendly it is.
“We use Siri every day. We use Alexa every day in our dorm rooms and in our homes. In our offices,” said Clarke. “And so, this takes something that we’re already familiar with and it puts this in our hands.”
ORU has placed 10 different mirrors throughout its campus, and some classrooms are fitted with the technology, with dorms having the option too.
ORU experts have created an Amazon Fire Stick programmed with the same technology, which can be plugged into any device with an HDMI input.