Putting it to the test

Experiment at Makersbase

Last week was very exciting. I put my system to the test during group experiments. I did 10 sessions in total at three different locations and gathered data from 23 different participants. People could register for beginner or advanced sessions with consisted of 20 or 60 minutes of meditation respectively.

New for me was working with Eventbrite. Through this system participants could register and select the appropriate suit size (only 5 suits were available in 3 sizes). I am very pleased at how this went. People could interact with me through the platform and it was easy to change orders. Some participants couldn’t make it but all graciously let me know in time.

Setting up experiments
experimenten2Simon from Protospace had worked very hard to get the system ready for conducting the group experiments. I can now register users. The system creates a unique random ID allowing users to take part anonymously. Suits can be added and named.
Every time I want to experiment I create meditation session (duration, actuation). To this session I add users, assign suits to users.
Create experiment (name, comment), add sessions to experiment and see completed and incomplete experiments.
The starting and stopping of a session goes through the server with a nice bell sounding at the beginning and end. This also automatically starts and stops the logging of data.
Each user can fill in their own form through a dedicated URL which is available as long as a session is active. Eventually we want all users to be able to use their own device to fill out the forms but at the moment the style sheet isn’t compatible with every device.

User experiences
suit Fitting
I was very happy to see that users love the look of the suits, many selfies were taken. It wasn’t a surprise that people found the suit comfortable to wear. Vera de Pont and I spend many hours optimising the fit of and interaction with the suit. The hood was used quite often for a feeling of privacy and safety. The hood also provides warmth which is nice when sitting still. People felt that the hood made it easier to turn inwards.
Some people did have a problem with the collar. It is made of soft, flexible fabric and designed to fit snugly around the neck. The close fit will ensure that even the tiniest movements are captured. But even when the collar is fastened less tightly the data is comparable to the tight fit.
Lose collar data

Meditation with lightThe sessions could be conducted as normal meditation sessions. As an observer it struck me how peaceful they were. There wasn’t more movement or restlessness then in any other meditation session. The technology did not seem to interfere with the meditation.

Qualitative data
Filling in the formsFilling in the questionnaires was a bit of a hassle due to issues explained above. I have worked mostly with 2 laptops which could be used by the participants during walking meditation. But the filling out does take a lot of time, especially when the questions are new to people. Also some of the questions sometimes puzzled participants. Some questions are based on Buddhist theory, not all users are familiar with that.

Light influencing
Design group experimentsThe experiment design was that each 20 minute session would test one type of light. Although I explained this clearly on the ticket registration page people had different expectations. Some people expected a more dynamic light. These are interesting things to explore in the future but at this point the most important thing is to find a relation between the light and the meditation quality. The more I vary, the harder this will be, especially as my dataset still isn’t that big.
The blue light in particular was experienced very differently by people, while some found it relaxing others got a headache… One participant suggested to use indirect light. A very good idea. That way you are not watching a light source but are just experiencing the radiance. I have been testing it and have found it much more comfortable.

Participants are much interested in the biometric data. At this point there is only limited possibility to view the data. It would take too much time to show every user. All participants will get plots and a summary of their data of the sessions they participated in. The people that did look at their data found it mostly confirmed their feeling about the experience. They could for example recognize their fidgeting during a session and the deepening of the breathing between sessions.
We are working towards an overview of all sensor data on one page, providing mean values and comparison of sessions. Making the experience of the data more meaningful and helpful is something I will be exploring in the near future. It is a study in and of itself.

The experiments were about testing the suits and the system. Working with so many people has been really worthwhile. I have much better insight into what works and things in the system and experimentation routine that can be improved. The data of different users will be fed to the smart algorithm to help improve it so it can create the most optimal light during meditation.

If you ever want to participate, keep an eye on my Eventbrite and Facebook page. Or contact me through this blog so I can put you on the list. Hope to meet you sometime!

Meeting 04/04/08 @ Anjas’ studio

Meeting at Anja’s studio. 04-04-08 from 11 to 15.30. Present: Anja, Barbara (till 14.30), Danielle.

Barbara has done research into the chakra’s but found the possibilities limited (one line) and the appearance too esoteric. So we’ll have to choose the area’s we want to work with ourselves. We may use some of the underlying theory and the colours might be useful too.

Barbara also did research on heat sensitive paints:
+ They react quickly to warmth (fast feedback)
+ You can mix colours and are thus able to make all the colours you want
- No matter what colour, on reaction to heat it always turns white.
We could experiment with using different colours of shirts so we have three colours to work with: the paint colour, white and the colour of the shirt.
It might be interesting to look into compact heating and cooling (Peltier junctions, restrictive coil – we’re not sure what that means yet) elements to have more control on the saturation of the colours. Biofeedback could drive these elements.
Luminex is cool stuff the drawback is that it’s only visible in the night.

We want to research the possibilities of using a map or grid to make a kind of guide that can let people know where to touch or press when having certain emotions or ailments. This should be a playful design.

As far as output/display we came up with the following list: LED, LED wire, Luminex (conductive fyber), heat sensitive paint, e-paper, light emitting wallpaper. We want to see if we can meet the producer of the Iliat based in Eindhoven. (View ‘In de ban het ding’ link).

We want to investigate three sort of prototypes:
1) A shirt with heat sensing paints for the area’s to interact with. Each of us is going to formulate some thoughts on this and make a design. The next meeting will produce these shirts an wear them once they’re finished to see what the reactions are.
2) A shirt with a map/guide and one sensor or a couple of switches which uses LED’s as output.
3) A shirt with a map/guide and one sensor or a couple of switches which uses Luminex as output. There is an Italian company (view link) that sells towels in different colours which we’re going to buy and use in our prototype.

With┬áregard to the sensors we think we’ll get the most useful data when we combine a heart-rate sensor with a body motion sensor. This way we can rule out false data because increasing heart-rate combined with body motion would mean activity and not stress.
We want to look into energy point sensors which are used in traditional Chinese medicin.
We’re worried about the integration of the sensors with the wearable. We don’t won’t the technique to be separated from the garment. Nor do we want to be too much of a hassle to put on. A nice looking ear clip or ring in line with the design for measuring heart-rate would be a solution. If we want to use a breast belt ;-) we could use a bra or top integrated into the garment. For men we would have to think of another solution…

We replied to Frank Kooi’s e-mail asking some new questions.
Barbare is going to London on an internship with loop.ph who do lot’s of interesting things with light, she’ll keep us updated.
Anja and Danielle might be partaking in the Mediamatic e-Fashion day with Leah Buechley providing that we can work on our project and discuss it with her.

The next meeting is 12-05-08 in Breda at Danielle’s place