Breathing Trainer

Live Demonstration starts from 2:10 to 3:26


From team perspective, our group aimed to develop a playful and interactive physical computing device that used our body as a controller to practice different breathing techniques to deal with a specific problem space "Breathing for wellness", which was maintaining or improving the user's health and wellbeing in daily activities. From the individual perspective, I am building a breathing trainer for patients who suffered from panic attack. By following the device instruction, the participants will use their breathing pattern as a body controller to regulate abnormal heart rhythms. This device would first record and analyse the user's heart rate. If the heart rate is below 100, which was within the normal heart rate range, a OLED screen would display the user's current heart rate; If an individual's heart rate exceeded 100, a breathing guideline called 4-7-8 breathing technique would be shown to the users to help them regulate their heart rate. The whole process repeated again and again unless the user's heart rate fell back to the normal range.


Device Container

This is a white paper box that contains all the essential components, including the main board, connectors, wires, LED light, OLED screen and heart rate sensor. 4-7-8 breathing guideline is printed on the surface of the white box.

Heart rate Sensor

It is a thumb-sized heart rate monitor. The sensor is developed based on PPG techniques. This is a simple and low-cost optical technique that can be used to detect blood volume changing in the microvascular bed of tissues.

OLED Screen

It is a monochrome graphic display module with a built-in 1.3 inch, 128X64 high-resolution display. In a dark environment, contrast of OLED display is higher than LCD display. It is often used in portable health devices

LED Light

The MCL053MD is a 5mm HE round LED Lamp with diffused lens in different colours, with through hole mounting, round-shaped lens, 15mcd luminous intensity, 625nm peak wavelength, 45° viewing angle. It is made with GaAsP on GaP.


This device is made of hard paper. Although it is small in size, it can fit in a battery and other major components. But due to a technical problem, the battery holder is damaged, so that I will use the USB wire to connect my decive with the computer to activate the system. The reason I used the hard paper is because it is light in weight, hard to break and portable. The structure of the hard papers prevents the device from physical damage.


Heart Rate Detection

When the user attached the heart rate sensor to his finger or palm, the sensor will measure the user’s heart rate. The result of heart rate detection will be displayed on the screen. Due to the limiitation of the sensor, it takes more than 5 seconds to generate the user's current heart rate. The process will start again if the sensor disconnects from the human body.

LED light indicator

When the 4-7-8 breathing instruction is in stage 1 - breath in, the red LED lights up.In stage 2 - hold breath, the yellow LED lights up.In stage 3 - breath out, the green LED lights up.

Heart rate judgement

If the user’s heart rate is below 100, his heart rate will be displayed on the OLED screen. If the heart rate is 100 or above, the 4-7-8 breathing instruction will be activated. It has the ability to identify the user’s current situation. After the practice, the heart rate detection will be activated again to determine what function should be applied on users.

4-7-8 Breathing Instruction

When the user’s heart rate is 100 or above, the 4-7-8 breathing instruction will be activated. Firstly, “Breathing Practice starts in 3 sec” will be displayed on the OLED screen to let user prepare for the breathing task. Next, “Breath in - 4 seconds”, “Hold breathe - 7 seconds”, and “Breath out - 8 seconds”, “Ended - 3 seconds” will be displayed in ascending order. The process repeats when the user's heart rate is still higher than 100.

Design Process

Stage 1: Research

In the beginning of this project development. I have done background research on the breathing skill types and impact. Also 2 interviews related to panic attack and phobias were conducted to understand more about the target audience. I summarised some essential condition of this product in order to fit the need of this user group. This device should be portable, light in weight and hard to break.

Stage 2: First Prototype

The first prototype is consisted of three major parts, heart rate sensor, OLED screen, and the combination of a LED light and microphone. The testing flow is similar to the current prototype, the only difference is the microphone is installed to allow users to interact with the system. If the user is doing the right action, for example, the led light switched on when the microphone detect input from the microphone. But based on the user testing result, the users indicated that the microphone made them nervous because when the microphone did not sense the input correctly, the LED light started blinking which confused the users.

Stage 3: Second Prototype

The second prototype removed the microphone, which was the one shown on the video on top. After the Video demonstration, three groups had left comments to my prototype. They indicated two major problems, the first one was the lack of interactivity, there was no feedback returning to the users when they were doing the 4-7-8 breathing practice. Also, the LED light were under the box which was not obvious enough to let them see clearly. And there was a lack of instruction of the 4-7-8 breathing practice.

Stage 4: Third Prototype

The current prototype, for interactiveity, i have used buzzer as an indicator and microphone that wrapped with paper to increase the accuracy. But the user testing result indicated that, the user’s attension was drawn, so that they were trying to get the feedback correctly, instead of focusing on practicing 4-7-8 itself. None of the participants could reduce their heart rate to 100 or below. They feel nervous when they are always at the irregular heart rate status. In the final prototype, i am not using microphone and buzzer to maintain the effectiveness of 4-7-8 breathing techniques. I have put the LED light above the box, so that user can see the LED indicator clearly that remind them which breathing stage they are at. Also, in order to give them better users expereince, I have stick a paper filled with the whole testing process in text is written on the white paper box.


Team Domain

Our team domain is “Body as Controller”. We have focused on different target group while aiming for the same problem space “Breathing for wellbeing”. Wally focused on the breathing style during activities, Nick and Paula combined playful events with the breathing technique, and my project focused on using breathing style to regulate body abnormality. All these projects were based on the concept of this studio theme “Building a playful and interactive device” that encouraged people to use their body - breathe - as a controller to improve their life quality.

Human Value

This is a caring device that acted as a personal emotional checker that return the actual body status to the user. According to the user’s current circumstance, the system will direct him to the one he needed the most. See the heart rate data to calm their anxiety and nervous; Following the 4-7-8 breathing instruction to make a difference of their body. Transforming from nervious to relax. Based on the result of user testing, the participants believed that this device is a effective and convenient product that solved human problems

User Experience

There are some criteria that I have not achieved in this project. So far, this device is portable, small insize, light in weigh, and not breakable easily. The limitation is the battery holder is damaged so that i can’t show the perfect example. Also, the size is still too big for some testers, it can not hand carry friendly. In terms of usefulness, after practicing the 4-7-8, all the users successfully regulate their heart rate to lower level within 6 times 4-7-8 breathing practice. In terms of simplicity, it is not efficient to use, it takes approxiamately 8 seconds for the sensor to generate heart rate data. The position of the sensor must be accurate to generate result efficiently, but it is difficult to keep the sensor stable.