Ella Chung: Creative Technologist, Designer
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Breath We Live Interaction Experience

Breath We Live

 

Breathe We Live is an interactive meditation experience that awakens the reflection of
human relationship with nature through breathing.

Immersive Experience | Arduino | TouchDesigner | Projection Mapping | Kinect | Machine Learning

 
 
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Overview

Breathe We Live is an interactive installation that presents the invisible connection between human and natural environment through shedding lights on the activity of breathing. The invisible exchange of oxygen is brought into the projection of the natural world and human connection. The breathing sensors track the user in real time of their breathing frequency, and the interaction with the plants will help the user to meditate and slow down their breathing. The goal of this installation is to encourage us to rethink our connection and responsibility towards nature.

 
 
 

The Breathing Meditation Experience

Trees are made of human breath. The tree is recording a history of us. The tree is us. When people work with trees, they will carefully consider every cut and work with each individual tree’s unique shape and growth pattern. Can we tell a tree contains our breath patterns and human history? This makes me think deeper about the relationship between human breath and nature.


My installation creates an environment for communal meditation experience between human and nature. The viewers are invited to blow their breath into the sensor while meditating and listening to the sound of nature. The plants within the visual system react according to the participant’s breathing cycle.

 

My Inspiration

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Trees and plants are not only good for the environment they can benefit our general wellbeing as well. Research has shown that having indoor plants at home, including increase in physical health, mental wellbeing and our quality of life. Studies also show that exercise in these green spaces can reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem and mood

A NASA study shows that houseplants remove toxins and indoor pollutants, that could decrease the chance of having asthma and more serious conditions including respiratory illnesses and cancer.

 
 

User Flow

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The installation invites people to pay close attention to their body through a session of breathing meditation practice. I created a meditative space, with embedded interactive components, that enables intimate experience between viewers and the natural environment. Only one or two people can enter the space at a time. The installation uses human breath as an input to produce corresponding visuals in real-time. A Kinect camera mounted inside the space will detect the user’s movement to provide a false feedback loop for breathing, when the user is moving and breathing too fast, the visual and music will slow down to give the user feedback to breathe slower.

 
 

Technical Details

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The project is made of custom software built with Touchdesigner, a sensor system that detects breathing, a Kinect camera, and a projector. A viewer’s breath data collected by the sensor system is sent to the software built with Touchdesigner to create corresponding visuals in real-time. The viewer’s movement is detected by a Kinect camera and influences the visual system. The visuals are projected onto the floor to create an immersive experience.

Touchdesigner

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The Breathing data

The breathing visuals that is on the left is processed through Arduino and wind sensor’s data that is shown at the center.

Motion Detection

The motion detection is captured by the camera’s frame differences, if the user moving frequency is too high, the visuals of the breathing and the music is slow down in order to provide a false feedback loop for the users to breathe in slower.

 

Sensors

Sound Detector in previous prototypes

Sound Detector in previous prototypes

Wind Sensor in current installation

Wind Sensor in current installation

Wind Sensor’s raw data

Wind Sensor’s raw data

In my previous prototypes, I have been using sound detector to detect breathing. However, I found that wind sensor is more sensitive in detecting breathing, which the user does not have to breathe in very hard for detection.

 

Feedback

I have received many great feedback from users from user-testing sessions and the ITP Spring Show 2019 (video coming soon). In my user-testing sessions, many users have suggested that atmosphere and environment for meditation could be more darker and private space, which I later decided to make it a full-room scale meditation for 1-2 users to meditate in the experience. They also recommended that to have some physical components in the meditation, and I think it is a great idea to have the users feel more connected to plants physically beside them. Their valuable opinions have shaped and helped me throughout the design process for this installation. Many users love the idea of combining breathing and their plants for meditation. They also suggested to make it as a home kit for them to practice at home. They love that they could focus on their breathing practice and they don’t have to glue to their screens for meditation. I hope this breathing meditation experience could help users to practice deeper breathing and keep on breathing to relax.

 

Special thanks to

ITP Advisor

Residents

Professors

ITP Community

Family

Gabe Garcia-Colombo

Yeseul Song and Sebastian Morales

Dan Shiffman, Danny Rozin, Tom Igoe, Shawn Van Every…

ChengChao Zhu, Vidia Anidihta, Haiyi Huang…

Dad & Mom