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Paula Lin


Hi, I am Paula from Team Mobody! Our team domain is Body as Controller and the problem space we are addressing is to improve one's wellness through breathing. From individual perspective, I am looking at motivating and encouraging my target audience to do breathing exercise by providing a visually appealing interactive art design. My target audience are people who tend to suffer from breathing difficulties which can be due to asthmas or other chronic lung diseases. However, professionals and studies have shown that breathing exercises can also help in alleviating stress and anxiety. It has been practised during yoga and meditation too to help people to relax. Therefore, people without breathing problems can utilize my installation to gain relaxation and calmness.

My intended concept is to design an interactive art installation which allows people to interact with their breath. The intended experience is to make breathing exercise a more entertaining and enjoyable process so that people feel motivated to practise the breathing exercise regularly which is beneficial to their body and mind. Breathing exercise helps in strengthening our lungs which can reduce breathlessness and also helps in promoting relaxation for the body and mind. Hence, breathing is chosen as the body controller to interact with my installation and improve one’s wellness through breathing exercises.

One of the most effective breathing exercise that is recommended for lung disease patient is called the Pursed lip breathing method. According to the professional guideline, pursed-lip breathing involves inhalation through the nose for 2 counts and exhale through pursed lip for 4 counts. By doing so, evidence shows that this decreases air trapping by stenting the airways and preventing dynamic airway collapse averting panic attacks that accompany severe breathlessness. Consequently, the lungs will work better and reduce the risks of shortness of breath.

Pursed-lip breathing

The interaction plan is to make the painting respond to the users' breath. Each time they breathe out through their mouth towards the painting, a light will appear on the painting and eventually when all the lights are activated, the painting can be visible in the dark and looks different in terms of colours from the unlighted one. Different visual effects can bring different vibes to the environment and arouse different emotions in people. I aim to create a calming and relaxing ambience through lighting effects to promote relaxation for my users. The lights are used as a counter for the number of blow detected by the sensor. User will then be able to focus more on the breathing and leave the counting to the lights.


The video demonstrates the final product and its intended usage. In short, each time the user blows towards the sensor, one light starting from the left will start to lit up. There are a total of 7 lights to be activated. When the pyramid is in blue, it means no breath detected. When the pyramid is in orange, it means breath detected. Once all the 7 lights below the camels are lighted, the pyramid will permanently stay in orange for 2 hours before the reminder and reset kick in.

Final version

Above images present the final product and its interaction stages. The orginal painting has blue background and 2 white camels with orange brown pyramid and desert ground. At the start of the exercise, the pyramid will be lighted in blue. Followed by more lights appearing as breaths are detected. Once completed, the whole painting will be lighted in warm orange lights. With the lightings, the colours of the background changes to emerald green. As green are heavily associated with nature, it is often thought to represent tranquility, restful and calming. The colours play a vital role in promoting relaxation too.



All prototypes

I implemented the iterative design process for my project. First I researched on different breathing methods and focused on the pursed-lip breathing method as it is proven to be effective for my target audience. Then I start ideating on the interaction and interface design. The pursed-lip breathing requires exhale through the mouth, hence my idea is to create a painting that user can interact with their blows. The led lights installed behind the painting will respond accordingly when blow is detected.

From the beginning to the end, there are a total of 4 different prototypes produced. Initially, I created Version 1 and collected some feedbacks regarding the whole concept and interactions. Results from the interviews were all very positive and supportive about the concept, designed interactions and the intended experience.

Results Sources
Interesting concept and appealing appearance
  • Interviewee 1: "I like the visual appearance which makes me feel very interesting"
  • Interviewee 2: "It seems relax"
  • Interviewee 3: "Concept is interesting as it helps people with lung disease to exercise in an engaging way"
  • Fun interactions
  • Interviewee 8: "Interesting idea. Can explore lighting up partially such that number of blows equate to total blows needed to light up the whole picture"
  • Interviewee 9: "really cool interaction way! curious to see what will happen when I blow to the picture. Definitely encourage me to do more exercise to see different effects"
  • To understand what kind of interface will be the most preferrable and appealing to the audience, I made Version 2 and Version 3 with different presentation but same interaction mode to conduct another interview to realise the design expectations and gain insights of people's likings. From the design preference interview, I managed to set up some key criterias for making my installaton attractive. Fundamentally, the presentation needs to have a theme related to calmness and relaxation, the gradual reveal of the lights can arouse curiosity and motivate users to exercise.

    Important Criterias Sources
    Theme related to calmness
  • Interviewee 1: "painting is more relatable to calmness and relaxation, matches the breathing exercise"
  • Interviewee 3: "i like it has a theme"
  • Interviewee 4: "like the night theme"
  • Interviewee 5: "good to have a theme related to breathing"
  • Interviewee 9: "garden theme seems calming"
  • Gradual reveal of lights creates suspension and curiosity to motivate users
  • Interviewee 2: "fun and surprising to see what the lights is forming"
  • Interviewee 6: "quite interesting as the lights slowly reveal the picture"
  • Also, research have shown nature landscapes do help in promoting calmness. Based on these insights, I then came out with Version 4 painting which has a desert theme with 2 camels standing in a barren area of landscape. Subsequently, in consideration of providing some guidance to the user to inform them when to inhale and exhale, Version 4.1 is a modified improved version with a pyramid for letting the user knows when they can inhale, exhale and stop the exercise. When the pyramid is in blue light, it means user has to inhale. When user exhales, the pyramid will turn orange for 4 seconds before returning to blue. In such way, user can make use of the pyramid light to know when to breathe in and out. There is some changes to the color of the painting too. After some research on psychologically calming and soothing colours, blue and green are among the top. Hence, I changed the background color of the painting to blue, and when it is integrated with the lights, the background appears in emerald green. These colours are related to tranquility, soothing, calm and harmony based on art therapy studies. In addition, a buzzer has been added to remind the user when it is time to exercise again. The reset function is also activated in Version 4.1 to prevent user from over-exercising. So when the user finished the exercise, the lights on the painting will remain for 2 hours before getting reset, and the buzzer will ring for 5 seconds to alert the user to get ready for the next round of exercise. All these improvements are made to improve user experience. TAM and evaluation of Version 4.1 can be seen under the Reflection section.



    To build The Breathing Pyramid, below is a list of the materials needed:

    • 1 Canvas board and painting materials - For painting the picture
    • 1 addressable LED strip lights - For user to see lights during interaction
    • 1 Arduino Uno, 1 breadboard and 1 Powerpack - To power up the installation
    • 8 Jumper wires - To connect the lights and sensor to the Arduino
    • 1 Scotch tape - To attach the LED lights and sensor behind the Canvas
    • 1 Sound sensor - To detect user's breath for interaction and inactivity
    • 1 Buzzer - To remind user to exercise after a period of inactiveness



    Connecting the wires and the componenets tight and correctly are very important to make sure everything works. A clear diagram of the circuit can be found here: Circuit diagram. The codes with documentation has been uploaded to my Github and can be assessed here : The Breathing Pyramid (Arduino).


    While working in this project, a journal has been updated regularly to record weekly progress and reflection. The deliverables of individual inspiration poster, prototype demonstration document, team pitch, team proposal and team reflection report have been organized by me in a Google drive folder and can be accessed here.


    Overall, the project outcomes are successful to a large extent. The final product produced meet most of the project’s desired outcomes of intended user experience and human values. This is measured by a TAM survey conducted with 6 participants based on the final product. Results of TAM can be seen here.

    Outcomes From the TAM results, it can be seen that the interaction mode is favourable to the users as 5 out of 6 participants voted feeling fun and entertaining during the exercise process. The missing vote is due to participant having a difficult time aiming at the sensor to make it respond. Easy interaction impact the usability and learnability of the product, it is therefore vital to make sure smooth interaction for user to enjoy during the interaction process.

    From PU1, all participants agreed that they get more motivation to do the breathing exercise with the painting. This is because the gradual reveal of the lights and suspension will intrigue users to continue doing the exercise. This is found based on the previous interview collecting feedbacks from users on what they like on about the painting. Interview results can be found here.

  • Interviewee 2: "fun and surprising to see what the lights is forming"
  • Interviewee 6: "quite interesting as the lights slowly reveal the picture"
  • To attract user's attention and interest to utilize the painting, first impression is crucial and it is my first step to success in this project. Hence, creating an appealing and eye-catching painting is one of my success criteria. From the TAM results, all partipants voted "YES" in finding the visual appearance of the painting appealing. My ideal outcome matched with the actual outcome indeed. This painting was produced based on all the user's feedback about what they like of the previous prototypes. By combining those feedbacks, I aim to produce a painting that has a calming theme and suspension during interaction. To improve on the calming effect, I did some background research on colour psychology. I chose colours and theme that can evoke calmness and relaxation based on the research. According to the studies, green is an emotionally calming color (color of my painting with lights) and soft blues calm the mind and aid concentration (color of my painting without lights). The colours used in my painting definitely contribute greatly to the success of this outcome.

    Next, the aim of encouraging people to do breathing exercise is to reduce their breathlessness and also promotes relaxation. It will be difficult to measure if their breathlessness has been reduced in a short period of time, but we can instantly know how we feel after the breathing exercise. Therefore, I interviewed people on how they felt after the exercise. From the TAM results, 100% agreed that they felt relax. Some minorities chose calm and tiring. It is understandable that after the breathing exercise, people will feel tired to a certain extent because it requires concentration and efforts to breathe in a specific pattern for some time. Hence, people felt relax due to the breathing practice and also that the exercise is over.

    To remind user to practise the breathing exercise regularly, I set up a buzzer to help alerting the user it is time to do the exercise again. Once the buzzer rings, the painting is almost ready to reset itself to allow user to do a new round of exercise. This prevents user in overexercising and suffer from unnecessary exhaustion. It is recommended to practise 3 to 4 times a day, so the buzzer is set to ring every 2 hours from the last exercise done. The buzzer and reset has been successfully implemented which matched my ideal outcome.

    A very important factor that affects my user experience is the learnability and usability of my product. Unfortuntely, due to the technical aspect, the sound sensor used with the painting has limitation to detection distances and sensitivity. The limitation in distances force the users to get closer to the sensor to make the interaction works. This affects the overall relaxing experience negatively and reduce the user experience which lead to the failure in PEOU2,PEOU3 and ATT1 of the TAM survey. On average, users disagree that the painting is easy to interact with and thus, it is not desirable to use the painting.

  • Interviewee 3: "make the sensor works in some distance...can interact without being too near as I hope to see changes on the painting while blowing"
  • Interviewee 4: "better if sensor can detect blow from further distance"
  • Interviewee 5: "better if sensor has better detecttion so exercise can be smoother and less tiring"
  • To tackle this problem, the sound sensor can be installed separately from the painting so that user will always be close to the sound sensor and the painting distance will not matter. For instance, the sensor can be installed on a stand that user can place in front of them to interact with while placing the painting further away from them. However, there will be wires issue that can cause the installation to look messy. The sensor needs to be connected to the painting wirelessly to save the product being bulky and troublesome to set up which may cause user's reluctancy to use it. From the interview results, it can be seen that portability is a factor that affect user's attitudes towards the product and intention to use. Some users prefer the painting to be portable in order to make them want to use it more frequently.

  • Interviewee 2: "I will probably use it more if I can bring along with me everywhere"
  • Solution

    Overall, users understood the concept very well and acknowledged the intention of this installion is good. I considered the project is successful in terms of the concepts, the intentions and the intended inetractions. The actual interactions definitely need improvement to solve the distance issue with the sound sensor to make interaction easier and better user experience.

    Get In Touch.

    Whether it's for a cup of coffee, general questions, or about my project, please feel free to reach out!

    Email: paulalin91@hotmail.com