At the mid-August University of Nottingham Summer Scientist Week MindTech's Mike Craven and Maddie Groom launched a new smartphone game called 'Awkward Owls' which is aimed at creating a fun way to measure attention, hyperactivity and impulse control in children. Summer Scientist Week is a free annual event for four- to 11-year-olds and their parents which gives an introduction to the mind and brain and enables them to take part in university research studies.

The new game is an extension of work with SnappyApp, an app developed by MindTech to assess ADHD traits on mobile phones. These traits, at their extremes, are associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but are measurable in the general population. The test is based on the well-known Go/No-go test from cognitive science.

120 young people played the game and informed the reseach team about its acceptability, while data was captured from the game play and the smartphone motion sensors. The data collection was carried out as part of an undergraduate project in the University's School of Medicine (Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology). As well as judging acceptability with young users, the results will enable the team to examine the reliability of smartphone data collection and to validate these kinds of test against psychiatric rating scales such as SWAN (Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD Symptoms and Normal Behaviour). The games are currently still a research tool and further research will be needed to gauge their validity and acceptability by children, their parents and healthcare professionals.

The team will also present a paper on owls pairthe game at this year's Interactive Technologies and Games Conference (ITAG 2015) in Nottingham on 22-23 October, where one of the keynotes will also feature Kevin Durkin, Professor of Psychology at the University of Strathclyde, who will be speaking about 'Interactive technologies and developmental disorders', relating to their use by people with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and language impairment.


Craven, M. P., Groom M. J. (2015) Computer games for user engagement in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) monitoring and therapy. 2015 International Conference on Interactive Technologies and Games (iTAG), Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom, 22-23 October. IEEE Computer Society conference proceedings, pp. 34-40. ISBN 978-1-4673-7874-1/15. doi: 10.1109/iTAG.2015.9
Slides: view online

Contact: Dr. Michael Craven