There is an ongoing trend towards technological advances that help us being more connected and more productive, at the cost of driving our attention away from the physical world. In order to explore alternatives to this trend, we designed Inner Garden: an augmented sandbox designed to support mindfulness exercises — that is, exercising our awareness to the present moment.
The sand is augmented using a projector, giving the appearance of a tropical landscape. Much like a kids’ sandbox, the users can shape the terrain with their hands in a playful way, and the changes will be reflected in the simulation in real time. The simulated landscape also is connected to the users’ internal activity, thanks to physiological sensors. For example, the sea waves are synchronized with the user’s breathing, providing both visual and auditive feedback, and if the user practices breathing exercises, the flora will grow greener, and animal sounds will slowly appear.
The resulting system works as a tangible meditation metaphor, helping us to train our ability to pay attention to ourselves and our surroundings. During the design iterations, we consulted with meditation practitioners and experts, and they described the system as having a calming and grounding effect, and were entusiastic about the potiential of technological devices designed for well-being.
Joan Sol Roo, Renaud Gervais, Jerémy Frey, Martin Hachet. Inner Garden: Connecting Inner States to a Mixed Reality Sandbox for Mindfulness. CHI’17, Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 2017, Denver, USA. 2017. https://chi2017.acm.org. (Honorable mention)
Renaud Gervais, Joan Sol Roo, Jérémy Frey, Martin Hachet (2016). Introspectibles: Tangible Interaction to Foster Introspection. In CHI 2016 Computing and Mental Health Workshop (CHI ’16 Workshop).
Joan Sol Roo, Renaud Gervais, Martin Hachet. Inner Garden: an Augmented Sandbox Designed for Self-Reflection. TEI ’16: Tenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, Feb 2016, Eindhoven, Netherlands. 2016. http://www.tei-conf.org/16. (Work in progress)
Joan Sol Roo, Renaud Gervais, Jérémy Frey, Martin Hachet. Augmented Humane Experience: Spatial Augmented Reality and Physiological Computing. ETIS – European Tangible Interaction Studio Winter School, Jan 2016, Fribourg, Switzerland. ETIS’16. 2016. http://www.etis.estia.fr/etis-2016.html.