Augmented Reality Could Put Smoking Cessation in the Palm of Your Hand

February 25, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease in the United States. Still, an estimated 34 million Americans smoke. Many have tried to quit, but overcoming nicotine addiction isn’t easy, even with the current cessation programs and tools available. Moffitt Cancer Center’s Tobacco Research and Intervention Program has teamed up with Haneke Design to take smoking cessation into the next generation. Together, they are designing an augmented reality (AR) app to assist smokers in their cessation journey.

“We have conducted numerous smoking cessation studies at Moffitt. Our research has shown that cessation tools and interventions work in our lab or clinic setting, but in a real world setting, there are triggers that can cause powerful cravings to smoke,” said Thomas Brandon, Ph.D., director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program and chair of the Health Outcomes & Behavior Program at Moffitt.

This is where augmented reality comes in. Moffitt researchers worked with app designers to develop a tool that can be a supplement to smoking cessation programs. The app allows smokers to interact with computer-generated smoking triggers so that they can learn to better resist that trigger and the urge to reach for a cigarette. The computer-generated cues are like what you would see in a social media filter, or how during a televised football game, the first down line is projected on the screen.  The research team is now ready to launch their study to collect feedback from smokers about the early versions of the app — Project DART or Developing Augmented Reality for Tobacco.

“Our team may not be able to physically be with smokers at every moment, but an overwhelming majority of smokers own a cellphone or tablet,” said Christine Vinci, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and assistant member of the Health Outcomes & Behavior Program at Moffitt. “This app is an innovative approach that allows smokers to train themselves to resist smoking cues in the real world — their home, workplace, or wherever they typically would smoke.”

The augmented reality feature of the app will give study participants an interactive experience of their real-world environment, enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. Haneke Design leveraged Unity to create the app. The three-dimensional capabilities of Unity allow AR applications to look as real as life.

“The demand for augmented reality is on the rise,” said Jody Haneke, CEO of Haneke Design. “This technology has proven to change the way we play, learn, work and live, and the application we’ve created here is no exception. I am confident that this innovative application of AR will offer life-changing experiences for users throughout their cessation journey.”

The study is recruiting participants to provide feedback during app development. Smokers who are interested in learning more about Project DART can contact a research coordinator by emailing ProjectDART@Moffitt.org, calling 813-745-7747 or visiting the study website.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 6,500 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

About Haneke Design
Driven to amaze and delight users, Haneke Design is a Tampa, Florida-based interactive design and development firm focused on delivering user-centered solutions for desktop, mobile and tablet devices. Haneke Design works with some of the world’s leading brands and advertising agencies to deliver multi-platform, cross-device campaigns. Additionally, Haneke Design helps SMB and enterprise customers mobilize their web applications and web services. These solutions integrate seamlessly, are easy to use, and deliver bottom line results. Learn more at hanekedesign.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

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