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Flight Digital and University of Auckland launch app for diabetic teens

Flight Digital, a digital innovation studio for ambitious brands, has partnered with the University of Auckland to address a crucial issue – the mental health and well-being of teenagers dealing with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Teens with T1D have long grappled with higher rates of psychological distress than their general peers, a challenge further compounded by the hurdles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support this group, the University of Auckland worked with Flight Digital to develop an online tool using COMPASS, a self-compassion chatbot that lives inside a progressive web app (PWA).

Chatbots, as digital conversational allies, provide round-the-clock, personalised support. The goal of this app is to offer evidence-based, remote interventions to enhance both psychological and emotional well-being and diabetes management outcomes for its users.

Commissioned as part of the University of Auckland’s ongoing research studies into diabetes in teenagers, this project exemplifies the remarkable potential of combining technology with a deep understanding of users’ needs and emotional states.

COMPASS serves as a personalised support system, offering tailored strategies to help adolescents overcome their unique challenges. It acts as a daily emotional check-in and a guide for diabetes management, featuring 14 customised interaction modules.


Notably, what sets COMPASS apart is its unique use of native language interpretation. It doesn’t just understand words but also senses emotions. The embedded chatbot responds empathetically, offering guidance and tailored support based on the user’s emotional state, be it positive, negative, or anxious.

Dr Anna Serlachius from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland highlighted the significance of this collaborative project, stating, “Adolescents with type 1 diabetes have much higher rates of mental health issues compared to their peers and we are hoping that something like COMPASS can help to both support young people as well as help to prevent these mental health issues.

“It has been fantastic working with the Flight Digital team and we hope to keep working with them on many similar projects in the future.”

Flight Digital Managing Director Victor Green said “Partnering with the University of Auckland on this project has been an extremely rewarding one for our team at Flight. Being able to use our expertise across customer experience strategy, design and technology to create something that could help to improve people’s lives, is really what gets us up in the morning.

“We hugely appreciate having been trusted with such an important project and are excited for the future of our partnership.”

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