A partnership project between Gwylan UK and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC), with the support of Accelerate, has created a pioneering new tool to help children manage their mental and physical health.
Showcased in a new film from the Accelerate Programme, the partnership has adapted an age-old game, Sleeping Lions, and transformed it into a valuable technology allowing school pupils to regulate their emotions and calm themselves down when they become angry, upset, or emotionally overwhelmed in a classroom setting.
Often, usual practice in schools will see emotionally overwhelmed children removed from the classroom to allow them time to calm down. However, this often poses difficulties for the school and fails to help the child’s educational attainment.
Pembrokeshire based educational consultancy, Gwylan UK, believes that technology offers a better approach to helping young children to learn to better manage their emotions. The consultants are currently developing software that can be used in a classroom via an app on a mobile device, which will be paired with Bluetooth headphones and a wrist-worn heart rate monitor.
Lowering a person’s heart rate is one of the most effective ways for a person to calm down and it has been proven that lowering a person’s rate of breathing will also lower their heart rate. If adopted in schools, this technique can help increase a child’s wellbeing, reduce the amount of education missed, and enables teachers to support more of their pupils emotionally.
Gwylan’s app guides an upset child through a series of immersive games, exercises, and techniques designed to slow their rate of breathing, which enables them to calm themselves down without having to leave the classroom.
Accelerate is led by Life Sciences Hub Wales, in partnership with Cardiff University, Swansea University and UWTSD. Rather than providing funding or grants, this programme offers SME's and Enterprises in Wales the opportunity to tap into academic expertise, and the latest facilities needed by innovators and entrepreneurs to realise their ideas.
For this project, Accelerate has provided Gwylan UK with the academic expertise and state-of-the-art facilities at ATiC, located at UWTSD’s SA1 Swansea Waterfront Campus.
John Likeman, Director of Gwylan UK said:
“The Accelerate programme has been absolutely critical in supporting us. They have found ATiC and been able to supply us with a team of people that were able to understand what we wanted and to help us find out ways of achieving that. Without Accelerate there would be no product, it’s as simple as that, it would just be still an idea.”
Experts from ATiC assisted with evaluating their product prototype through a pilot rollout across two Welsh schools – Ysgol Gymraeg Brynsierfel in Llanelli, and Ysgol y Moelwyn in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
The collaboration saw the ATiC team perform a series of studies across both schools to evaluate the product’s ability to promote mindfulness, regulate breathing, and lower heart rate to help pupils feel more relaxed.
ATiC’s research included user-centred behavioural research in the classroom, which enabled the partnership to better understand how the pupils used the app, and its effect on both their behaviour and the classroom dynamic.
The data gathered provided evidence for the product’s efficacy, as well as recommendations to improve the final version before commercialisation to be available for schools and academic customers.
Tim Stokes, Innovation Fellow at University of Wales Trinity Saint David and ATiC:
“Generally, our goal is to collaborate with enterprise and businesses in the health and well-being sector. We work with them to try and develop and optimise their products, systems, services, and we do this through research, understanding, prototyping and testing the efficacy of their products.
ATiC brought a range of ways to measure their experience using the Sleeping Lions app, so we were able to measure their heart rate, their breathing rate separately. We were able to use a piece of Noldus FaceReader software to understand their emotions and their concentration as they were engaging with it. This really helped us to understand the directions the app would need to go in.”
The development of Sleeping Lions and its PulseBAND technology, containing components including cardiovascular sensors and headphones, is already providing additional employment opportunities for Gwylan UK’s software development team, hardware team, and textile fabricators. It also has the potential to be developed for use in the areas of elite sports, and possibly for military, security, and medical applications.
If rolled out successfully, Sleeping Lions would be a bilingual first-to-market product, impacting positively on the development of the Welsh language and providing support for young people in their first language, the language of their home and wellbeing.
The Accelerate programme has now been extended to December 2022. If you would like to find out more about how the programme might be able to support your bright idea or innovation, contact us today via firstname.lastname@example.org.