Final Project Ideas.

For my final project, I keep circling around a very personal case study / problem:

We all know meditation is good for us, but the benefits are largely intangible. How do we make the experience of meditation engaging, such so that the user can see a physical manifestation of their practice? Can we / should we create something that bridges the mind-body gap for our imagination?

Keeping in mind the “problem statement” above, I toyed around with two ideas for a final project, but I’m still not completely satisfied with either:

Idea #1: The ZenAssist
The cornerstone of meditation is about stripping yourself away from physical distractions and focusing on breath. While this philosophy is admirable, it doesn’t seem feasible for someone who is a meditation novice. The ZenAssist is a physical mandala which rotates and changes color upon sensing breath. This device would serve as “training wheels” for someone who is new to meditation, and allows them to focus simply on their breath and an object.

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Idea #2: The Mindful Garden
This project gets away from the conventional meditation practice but focuses on the more general idea of mindfulness. I was inspired by the movie Avatar where, in one particular scene, two characters walk through the Tree of Souls, which serves as a device bridging the physical and spiritual.

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The Mindful Garden would be composed of a basic installation of various panels of conductive fabric and emit soothing sounds when a user “walks through the garden.” In a second, they are transported to a more mindful space without really going anywhere. This space is free from distraction, and the user is left to wander through until they have reached their center.

There are a few questions, of course, that I need answer moving forward:

  • For idea #1, what sensor should be used to capture breath? A quick search on Adafruit’s website didn’t yield a particular sensor, but perhaps a waist or chest sensor can be fashioned?
  • Is idea #2 even possible?