COMPANY: NYU-ITP | ROLE: UX Designer and Prototyper | YEAR: 2012
Breathing. It's something we do without thinking.
But when we're hunched in front of a computer, our breathing becomes shallow or we hold our breath entirely. This cessation of breathing -- sometimes referred to as email apnea -- contributes to higher stress levels. One known technique to control your stress level is deep breathing, which is when you force yourself into a slower, deeper breathing pattern.
Is there a way to become more cognizant of your breathing? That's what this device aims to do. Fluffy is a backpack that helps you de-stress by guiding you into a slower and deeper breathing pattern. It first measures your breathing rate and pulses at the same frequency. It then gradually slows to a steady and even pulse, encouraging the wearer to follow suit.
Everything about Fluffy is designed based on research and relaxation techniques. A couple's breathing pattern and heart rates tend to synchronize when they are close to one another, as do mothers and infants. This is why we experimented with a wearable that would be worn very close to users' bodies. Research also tells us that pets are one of the best forms of stress release. Therefore, we purposely used a soft, furry material to construct the pack to give it animal-like characteristics. The object feels alive and helps to heighten the emotional connection the wearer has with the machine. Lastly, we explored the possibility of the pack having a dual purpose of also being a notification system for tweets or text messages.
How it's made
The final prototype was made using an Arduino that controls a servo motor arm. The arm continually compresses and releases an inflatable device (a balloon) giving the feeling of a breathing object.
Inside the straps of the backpack is a force-sensing resistor that measures the users' breathing and sends that information to the Arduino.
We made several prototypes to figure out the right experience.