One of my favourite parts of the redesign process for the EEG Mirror was the bio-feedback mechanism. The current laboratory set up uses this graph:
So the lower the line, the deeper into flow state you are. My research suggests that the type of feedback that is suitable varies from person to person, some (like me) Meditate with their eyes closed, so watching a visual cue like this isn’t great. Some people prefer the audio cue that was offered instead, an electronic tone that goes down as you move deeper into flow state. Offering both types of feedback is important.
One negative point of this type of feedback is that it may be TOO accurate. Meditation is a delicate and at times difficult activity, and focusing too much on whether you are ‘doing it right’ can be a negative. I personally found this to be true when I used the mirror, as I began to focus on ‘pushing’ the tone down, as soon as I got caught up with the activity my Meditation and depth into flow state suffered. Meditation is about directing your entire focus onto reality as it is happening, be it your breath or a buddhist mantra, and if your focus is too caught on the detail of the feedback, or comparing yourself with yourself last mili-second or other people, that is an issue.
A big part of this project is about ethically and proactively using technology for good, and one of the main negatives of current technology that we are beginning to wake up to is it’s addictive quality. I have no interest in designing yet another device to be stressed about racking points up on. In the words of Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: Why you are addicted to technology and how to set yourself free:
“Numbers pave the road to obsession”
So I wanted to create a feedback mechanism that would:
1. Work with eyes open and closed
2. Be easily ‘readable’ with out being too distracting
3. Be non-competitive, or ‘soft’
For this part of the project I teamed up with the incredibly talented 3D artist Martin Salfity. I asked him to respond to the concept of Expansion and Contraction, a core practical and philosophical concept with-in Meditation, I made a short video of form and movement references, asking him to particularly look at jelly fish and anemones as a source of inspiration for an organic, yet fluid, form of movement and form transformation. I described in depth my own sensations during Meditation and that of others from my research, it is extremely hard to describe this in words, but many people agree it is a warm, expansive feeling, of moving beyond the boundaries of your body and moving outwards, some might say this is reflective of an expansion of your consciousness. Finally I asked him to use the colour palette developed in response to the three jewels of Buddhism. By being inspired by Meditation I hoped he would create something more reflective of it and in harmony to it, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.
As you move deeper into flow state the shape expands. This feedback is meant to be received whilst sitting in a dark environment, from the inside of the Faraday Meditation Pod, so by putting the bright, light animation on a black background it will be possible to sense the change in state through closed eyes as the light level ahead of you changes. It would be very difficult to compare your own experience and expansion with someone else (unlike a graph) so it is not competitive, but rather a soft, intuitive guide. I look forward to user testing.