Kids these days are suffering from anxiety more than ever





Scope: Mid-Term

Role: Research, Analysis and Synthesis of Findings, Conceptualized Final Solution, Built Project, Contributed to Presentation Video, Contributed to Code

Collaborators: Johnson Vinothkumar, Mia Darling Ibanez Risso 

Summary: BLOOM is a project exploring the simple but often times forgotten act of taking a deep breather in a world that is more often than not full of anxieties. We aimed to represent the breathing in a way that was visual and take the user and viewer away from the stress of external stimuli and allow them to momentarily focus on the self. Considering all of the knowledge we have learned in Physical Computing; namely coding, Arduino and sensors, we sought to create a project that contained principles of Interaction that would be useful and beneficial to the user in a real-world context.  BLOOM is visually represented via a Hoberman Sphere, a common toy that nevertheless is complex in its mechanics and can bring wonder to anyone who witnesses its contraction and expansion.  The sphere is composed of countless interconnected colorful plastic levers and has the ability to expand itself to a multiple of its size.  We connected the sphere to a stretch sensor and programmed the code so that the calibration had real-time responsiveness.  The sphere reacts instantaneously through a sensor attached to the user’s belly area.  When the user breathes out, the sphere contracts. When the user breathes in, the sphere expands.  These actions follow the principles of deep yoga breathing along with mindfulness breathing techniques.   The visual display of the sphere responding to the user’s real-time breathing patterns, contracting and expanding along with the soothing physical act of deep breathing adds to the relaxed mind-state, creating awareness and a clear open mind.



How It Works

BLOOM can be attached like a light sconce to the ceiling of your room.  It has stretch sensors that are programmed to work via Arduino to control the stepper motor so that your breathing actions are mimicked with the contraction and expansion of the Hoberman Sphere, allowing the user to relax, focus on the device, breathe deeply and enter a calm, happy frame of mind.

Alden_BLOOM_on bed 3.1.jpg

Originally we were inspired by plants, specifically by E.T. and his direct connection to plants and his ability to bring dead plants to life.  We thought our device could work primarily with plants to measure their state of wellness.  We realized that there was a fine line between how well a plant is doing and that it ultimately would be a rather boring product.  Then we started to think how the metaphor of the contraction of the device would work much better when considering human breathing.



We decided that BLOOM would be ideally suited towards children as it seems their lives are full of so much unhealthy stimulation and stress in the modern era.

Who is BLOOM for?


The guidelines we set for ourselves was that the product had to be physically elegant and appear to be a real product that perhaps a Kickstarter campaign could theoretically be launched, if it worked successfully.  We knew the Hoberman Sphere was the primary visual element and thus we sought to devise a way for it to open and close smoothly and for all of its mechanics to be hidden in an elegant base so that there were no visual distractions.  The focus should be on the simple action of the Hoberman Sphere so that the body and mind could work in conjunction to fully relax the user.  



The act of breathing involves both the intake and expulsion of air to and from the mouth and nose.  It also involves movement of the chest as well as belly.  Considering these factors, we had to find a suitable sensor that would respond accurately and also not appear clumsy and incongruous to our desired elegant aesthetics.  After some research and advice from former students in our program, we discovered the conductive rubber stretch sensor as a possible solution and sought to find one to test out.   It made sense as it could be attached to the chest and measure the expansion and contraction of the chest as breathing commences.   Although getting the coding to sync up with the motor and sensor was certainly a challenge, after much trial and error, we got the device to work, tweaking the coding throughout the process for the Stepper Motor and the Stretch Sensor to work together as seamlessly as possible.