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Bad, good, great: Auckland creative agency RUN is launching a stress app for students

Creative agency RUN has partnered with a University of Auckland academic to develop a novelty stress release app called BadGood. Unlike other mental health-orientated apps that encourage breathing or calming exercises, it will act as a fun way for users to let out their everyday frustrations.

RUN co-founder Laura Cibilich says the idea was sparked from fellow co-founder Raymond Mckay having a hard time with a particularly stressful situation, resulting in him being frustrated and lacking in sleep.

“He wanted to physically release this bad energy and all he had on him was his phone,” she says. “This sparked an idea and BadGood was born.”

The creative agency decided to join forces with the University of Auckland on the project due to a prior meeting with director of the Augmented Human Lab at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, Suranga Nanayakkara, at Techweek 2018, where they got talking about the idea for a stress app.

“He’s recognised as one of the world’s emerging leaders in creating human-computer interfaces and has the ability to understand real-life contexts in which technologies function, and where technologies can be not just exciting or novel but have a meaningful impact on the way people live, so our idea really resonated with him,” Cibilich says.

The app works by letting users shake, scream or type their frustration with as much vigour as possible into their mobile devices, which is then transformed into lighthearted rewards that can be shared directly with friends or on social media.

The action they do is measured by the app and assigned a number value via an ‘accelerometer’, Cibilich explains, and then the user is given a positive digital award, such as an illustration, short-form music, video content or a GIF. 

“The idea is that the physical release of bad energy in this novel way changes their mindset and gives the user something more positive to focus on – turning bad energy into good energy,” Cibilich says. “We think combining these three phone functionalities in the stress relief app category is a world-first.”


BadGood and RUN co-founders Cibilich and McKay

Cibilich says that they thought the light-hearted approach to stress would resonate with users.

“We’re not trying to solve any serious stresses or mental health issues here, but do hope it genuinely helps those with everyday stress, such as students studying for exams, giving them a safe platform to vent in a fun way,” she says. “This kind of person may not necessarily be into using other more serious stress relief apps that include meditation or breathing exercises.”

The app is being created as a side hustle project alongside RUN’s day-to-day studio work.

Cibilich says it started as a passion project because her and Raymond couldn’t get the idea of their heads, and no one else was doing it.

“As creatives, it’s always harder working on your own projects than clients, as you’re that much closer to it and the possibilities are endless, with only self-imposed restrictions – or lack of,” she says. 

“We’re quick decision makers, which helps, although overall it’s definitely taken longer than it should have. For us the app is a creative side project, which means it’s been fun to come up with design graphics and strategy for, but also gets put on the back burner at times. However now we’re working with the University of Auckland academics we’re really driven to get it out there and succeed.”

In terms of users, BadGood will have a primary focus on student users who are inseparable from their phones and facing the mounting everyday pressures of juggling studying and life.

It will operate on the popular freemium model, by being free to download and use with a premium option available in-app.

All the technical research, wireframing and design work for BadGood has been completed, and currently the team is playing with the different functionalities to mould the in-app experience.

From there, it will be internally tested, with the aim of a public release within two to three months.

“We hope it genuinely helps people with everyday frustrations and puts out a little bit more goodness into the world,” Cibilich says.

Register to be part of the beta testing at BadGood’s site.

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