ACE Explorer – Mobile and Tablet App Redesign

ACE was a project done in collaboration with Neuroscape Labs, a research lab operating out of UCSF that is revolutionizing neuro-tech. Neuroscape is best known for creating Evo (previously named Neuroracer), an app that has been shown to improve symptoms of ADHD, Alzheimers, Dementia, and Autism. Neuroracer was featured on the cover of Nature magazine in 2013. Data from several years of research was recently submitted to the FDA, potentially making Evo the world’s first FDA approved video game treatment.

Neuroscape labs made the cover story for Nature Magazine in 2013.

Another one of their notable creations is Glass Brain; a 3 dimensional depiction of a human brain and it’s electrical activity in real time. I had the pleasure of demo-ing Glass Brain at Neuroscape using an Oculus VR headset.

Their technology scans the tissue of a real brain using MRI brain scans. Activity is then projected onto the map using electroencephalography (EEG).

There are many more interesting projects they are working on including an app that helps you improve your sense of rhythm (which has cascading effects on memory and attention), a ‘body brain trainer’ VR app that receives real time bio-feedback and adapts it’s difficulty level to the player’s challenge level, and an app inspired by meditation practice that boosts your self-regulation and focus. They are primarily focused in creating ‘closed loop’ game engines that put the player into a flow state; where they are challenged at a level that is engaging but not stressful.

The app I am working on, ACE (Adaptive Cognitive Evaluation), is a suite of tests based around psychological assessments that have been around for decades such as the Stroop test, that are designed to measure different aspects of cognitive control such as attention, memory, and goal management. The app already existed, but it’s design was outdated, and there was a lot of room for improvement. The goals of the project were to gamify the app, make it more engaging to play, and to give it a UX/UI refresh. It was also transitioned from being exclusively available on an iPad into a Unity app available on mobile and tablet devices for both Apple and Android. The eventual goal for ACE is to become the largest collection of open source data around cognitive control measures available to researchers.

The previous interface for ACE.

The project has been underway for almost a year, and is scheduled to wrap up this spring. I worked on the project in collaboration with a copywriter, a game artist, a sound producer, 2 Unity developers, and the researchers at Neuroscape. My role was to do all of the UX and UI design, as well as coordinate the copywriting, game art, and sound design. It has been a fun project to work on, and the app has turned out great. It’s been tested already with more than 60 users, and is continuously being improved.

A screenshot from the wireframes, showing the interior of the temple and a preview of one of the games.

The different ACE games and what cognitive faculty they are designed to evaluate.