Developed by a multidisciplinary team of four Innovation Design Engineering students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, Lacu is an secure, anonymous, wall-mounted interaction with AI that encourages users to vocalise and reflect on a problem in order to realise a solution.

Inspired by society’s tendency to suppress negative issues, Lacu has been designed to encourage it’s ‘clients’ to verbalise their problems or anxieties, and thereby kick into action new areas of the brain responsible for conversing. By externalising thoughts and so viewing them as a third party would, people are more likely to accept the existence of the issue, understand the root cause, and work on a route forward. It’s a basic, but powerful formula.

Lacu incorporates the IBM Watson AI to help initiate a conversation, interpret and provide confirmatory visual feedback. Placed in a private space in the workplace or school, the infinity interior is designed to induce a feeling of speaking outwards whilst providing a secure, soundproofed environment with innate privacy. With a large community user base, Lacu will securely and anonymously analyse recurring 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. 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 an outlet to help tackle potential mental health issues at an early stage.