Interview by Courtney Farrow: C4DI Community Correspondant
This year’s Hull Digital Awards took place on Thursday 7 September and we’re proud to say that many of our members were recognised for their hard work and innovation within the thriving tech industry.
Moodbeam, a brand new product that allows us to track our moods at the touch of a button, won the award for Best Emerging Technology. We caught up with Co-Founder and Director, Christina Colmer McHugh, to find out more about this exciting device.
Firstly, congratulations on bagging a Hull Digital Award this year!
Christina Colmer McHugh: I’m utterly thrilled that Moodbeam has won this award. It’s a huge endorsement to know that we’re already making a difference just one year into the project.
Being able to talk about how we feel and how it impacts our day should be a natural thing. Thanks to this technology, it is becoming the norm to say how we feel.
It only takes a moment to log our feelings, but being able to see those moments diarised could really change lives. Thanks to our supporters, who are helping us to perfect Moodbeam as we speak.
Could you tell us how you came up with this fantastic idea?
Christina: I created Moodbeam on the back of a personal experience. My seven-year-old daughter came to me saying that she thought she might be being bullied. It was quite a shock at first as she is, what I call, one of life’s coasters. She never really gets upset over much.
When it came to light, we did the usual things, such as getting the school involved and talking to my daughter and her ‘bully’.
It was all dealt with quite well, but it left me wondering if there was any way I could know how her day had been when she wasn’t with me.
I slowly formulated the idea of a ‘silent buddy/button-press solution’ that could log moods throughout the day; a nonverbal way of storing those feelings and keeping them until they could be downloaded to a trusted device. By diarising moods, you can spot triggers and surges over time. It started to take shape as a wearable.
And, of course, other people loved the idea too?
When I started to draw it out and give it a life force, it was initially very colourful, with five colours relating to different moods.
We then took the idea and designs to focus groups, mainly made up of school-aged children, their families and their teachers. They absolutely loved it! But, many thought it might need to be more discreet, so as not to attract even more attention to someone going through emotional abuse. It needed to be really simple to use too.
We went back to the drawing board and created a two-button pocketable, rather than a wearable; blue for sad, yellow for happy.
The moment we reduced it down to two moods and two colours, the tool exploded in its potential use and application. No longer just a tool for kids, it’s designed for all ages, needs and abilities; for personal and professional use.
So, who might see a benefit from using your product?
We currently have eight streams trialling it; schools and families, adult mental health, the elderly, wellbeing in the workplace, medical, sports, music and those simply curious about their general mental health.
As you’ll probably appreciate, there are endless other avenues now popping up that desire this tool
It’s ultimately a tool focused on care, whether that’s for yourself, those you love, your work or your personal and professional performance.
It sounds incredible, when can we see the final product?
We’re currently trialling 100 prototypes within all the respective streams. Once they have been in place for a few weeks, we’ll gather them back again and retrieve the date. The devices are numerically identifiable, so anonymous and untraceable to any given individual.
The next step is to identify the most popular design, ensure that it's easy and enjoyable to use. We can then go forward to full production.
You can find out more about Moodbeam on their website www.moodbeam.co.uk.