University of Twente Student Theses


Gallery of Heartbeats : soma design for increasing bodily awareness and social sharing of the heart rate through sensory stimuli

Veitmaa, Eva Maria (2020) Gallery of Heartbeats : soma design for increasing bodily awareness and social sharing of the heart rate through sensory stimuli.

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Abstract:Elevated heart rate is considered to be an indicator of stress. Thus, noticing one’s own heartbeat can have a negative connotation. Yet, the heartbeat is simply a physiological function, neither positive nor negative in itself, that is experienced in diverse contexts, such as medical, athletic, or intimate. This study uses first-person research through design and soma design to increase awareness of the heartbeat from both an individual and social angle and examines the potential benefits of using external sensory stimuli to convey biofeedback information. It also opens up the design space around the heartbeat and sensory stimuli and reflects upon comfort and relaxation, biofeedback and digital mindfulness, the Sensiks sensory reality pod as a tool and space, and the heartbeat as a spectrum and a way of getting to know people. The study results in four deliverables: a design critique of the Sensiks sensory reality pod, a design fiction publication, a design proposal, and an experience prototype. The study proposes the design for the Gallery of Heartbeats – a sensory experience aimed at externalising and sharing the heartbeat of self and others. The Gallery of Heartbeats supports individual reflections, providing the user with real-time numerical, graphical, and auditory biofeedback on their heart rate. It also encourages social communication of this commonly unnoticed physiological feature, allowing users to record and store their heartbeat to an archive and experience the pre-recorded heartbeats of others in a multisensory way. The evaluation of the Gallery of Heartbeats prototype shows that the design succeeds in making people more aware of their cardiovascular activity, triggers their curiosity, and increases empathy. However, the Gallery of Heartbeats also makes the users want to control or change their heart rate which goes against the mindfulness principles of presence-in and presence-with the design was inspired by. Sensory stimuli, especially sound and visuals, are assessed as beneficial for creating feelings of immersion, whereas different representations of the biofeedback information have different effects and use cases.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:54 computer science
Programme:Interaction Technology MSc (60030)
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