SCH: INT: Collaborative Research: An Intelligent Pervasive Augmented reaLity therapy (iPAL) for Opioid Use Disorder and Recovery Grant uri icon


  • Opioid use disorder and addiction are now characterized as a nationwide “opioid epidemic,” with overdoses now the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States. While opioid overdose deaths have increased greatly over the past two decades as compared to other chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease) the development of remote monitoring and management tools and techniques for opioid cravings, recovery, and relapse have not kept pace. There is a critical need to design therapy programs that are discreet, accessible, connected, and personalized by supporting those recovering from Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), beyond conventional therapies. This project develops intelligent Pervasive Augmented reaLity therapies (iPAL) - a technology-enabled OUD intervention that aims to help OUD sufferers manage their cravings to reduce their risk for relapse or overdose. iPAL integrates complementary psychotherapies (cognitive behavioral therapy and heart rate variability biofeedback) with immersive technologies (augmented and mixed reality) to offer convenience, discretion in use, in the moment/real-time through personalized strategies. This work is poised to revolutionize how individuals learn, discover, create, and heal in the broader context of developing treatment strategies for those with OUD. The immediate benefit of the developed system will be iPAL, an appliance for helping those with OUD to experience a better quality of life. The proposed framework has translational potential beyond OUD: serving as a mental health support aid for those suffering from other forms of addiction (e.g., smoking and alcohol), suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or severe depression. This work is especially relevant to rural areas where people with OUD often have poor access to services. Even when services are available, stigma is a significant barrier to accessing these traditional addiction services. The novel and potentially transformative nature of this project lies in transcending the foundational theoretical understanding and identification of key technological (e.g., augmented, mixed, and virtual reality), neurophysiological (e.g., functional brain activity, heart rate variability, electrodermal activity), and affective determinants (e.g., positive or negative valence and arousal) of immersion that predict OUD patient experience and subsequently intent (e.g., manage cravings). The team focuses on unobtrusive means (e.g., mobile and wearable technology) to collect real-time physiological parameters to discreetly deliver personalized and interactive evidence-based complementary OUD psychotherapies utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms and immersive technology formats. A series of integrated research efforts is undertaken to advance spatial and affective computing science (technology outcomes) and behavioral science (health outcomes) that will contribute to the following intellectual merits: (1) developing an intelligent system to deliver personalized and interactive evidence-based psychotherapies, (2) fundamentally measuring, modeling, and comparing user engagement using neural signatures and physiological and subjective responses across the reality-virtuality continuum, (3) contributing to augmenting traditional OUD interventions using smart and connected immersive reality technologies, (4) determining the level of immersion most suitable as a mobile and real-time personalized therapeutic intervention, and (5) advancing understanding regarding the role that pervasive and personalized immersive technology plays in at-risk populations. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • 2020 - 2024