Yufan Wang / Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
Channel of Mindfulness
This project is my final thesis at CIID and there is no client.
Channel of Mindfulness
Well put-together concept; particularly like use of materiels, emphasising multi-sensory feedback and use. Nice integration of physical and digital elements in interface. Smart to use sound to evoke a sense of place. Great, if slightly arch, presentation. – Dan Hill
Apps, accessories, physical play, psychology, all interlock perfectly for a whimsical product concept. Part of me wishes the student had gone into meditation a little deeper. – Matt Webb
This project told a story with a great deal of confidence. The communications around the project were very strong, if a bit arch and knowing. The project included several physical augmentations to a smartphone, although nicely thought through I didn’t feel that this did enough to elevate it beyond other runners up. – Jack Schulze
Channel of Mindfulness
Bringing mindfulness(paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally) in to our day-to-day lives is key to spiritual growth. Channel of Mindfulness creates a new way to help inexperienced practitioners to discover and integrate mindfulness in their everyday life. The design includes two communicating parts: a handheld tangible device and an iPone application. The idea is to help people live in the moment through listening and concentrating on some meditative sounds. By paying closer attention on listening assisted with a rolling gesture, a higher stage of mind – mindfulness and awareness will be created.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Nowadays, there is a trend of spiritual awakening across the world. Combining this tendency with my personal enthusiasm, I have decided to set spirituality and spiritual growth as the design topic.
Channel of Mindfulness is designed for those new to spiritual practice. They are the people who have the motivation to know more about spirituality and their inner world but also have difficulty starting with traditional practice(such as meditation) because of the distractions in modern life and other personal reasons(for example, different levels of intuition to spirituality). Channel of Mindfulness acts as a starting point for them to explore their spiritual life and help them prepare for further practice.
The biggest challenge faced in this project was the uncertainty about how design could involve into such an abstract, sensitive, and vast topic. It is also very important to create the real experience for the user rather then only throw out a design question and stay in a conceptual level.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
As an Interaction Designer with a strong belief in the power of spirituality, I wanted to explore and experiment how spirituality and modern technology might be combined through the design approach. This also involved posing and trying to answer the question “are technology and spirituality in conflict or complementary with one another?”4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The research was mainly conducted at Copenhagen’s Buddhist Meditation Center, which offers free meditation lectures every evening. I joined the lectures and did meditation with them a couple of times. This experience helped me better understand the environment there and their own culture. Beyond that I got the chance to get in touch and interview some meditators with a lot of spiritual experience. From what they said I got rich inputs about how they see spiritual practice and spiritual life, which were highly insightful in the later process to help me frame my design challenges. Meanwhile, I also interviewed some people with little or no experience and this also help to drive the design direction to a daily life based experience.
In the ideation phase, quick prototyping was very useful to try out different ideas generated from the brainstorming sessions. Several rounds of iteration were explored on what kind of gestures/behaviors might be used to help people focus on listening.
Later on, three prototypes with higher fidelity were developed to test on many different users in order to get valuable feedback from different points of views. Finally, based on the user testing and the inspiration from the Tibetan prayer wheel, the concept of combining a small handheld device with an iPhone was frozen for the further development.
In the implantation phase, working on the physical and graphical interface was the main focus in order to find the right balance between the two. In this phase it has been challenging to choose the material, weight, form factor that better felt in the hand. Moreover, a library of sounds has been tested on the users. Finally, the technical aspect was not naive, given that the tangible object required the iPhone to communicate with an Arduino Lilypad.
The positive feedback from the experience prototyping sessions has been a sign of the validity of the concept. Some suggestions were also received form users on how to make the design better(for example, adding more weight to the rolling part and making the sound feedback more sensitive to the changes of the rolling speed). In the end, this project was exhibited at CIID IDP 2011 Final exhibition and it has been showed to hundreds of visitors, from whom more feedback was received to help this project move a further step.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Spirituality has been developed and discussed for centuries by different cultures and religions. In the modern world, highly developed technologies and civilization are challenging people in maintaining a contact with the ancient wisdom told by the old tradition. But with the rising impact of new awakening of spirituality in recent years, it is time to rethink the relationship between technology and spirituality and make them integrate. Under these premises, I see a deeper meaning of the exploration in this project. Even though this project is just an initial exploration on how technology can blend with spiritual needs, I hope it can open up people’s mind, rise up their awareness and realize the power of spirituality, therefore, to create more peace and love and make our mother earth a better world.