In today’s modern society, we move 24/7, both in the digital and in the real world. Recent studies show an increasing amount of (young) adults struggle with stress and mental/physical problems caused by stress. An unhealthy trend when you consider that stress relief and relaxation are primary needs.
In this project, I did all the work myself. From concept to design, and from development to all the audio compositions.
The final solution is a “smart assisting” product that helps the user relieve stress at home. The product reminds the user when to relax, offers a variety of stress-relieving exercises, and positively impacts the atmosphere of an environment using audio/light. The user can interact with the product through the physical buttons or the digital app. The app is also responsible for measuring your daily activity and recommends user-specific exercises based on your behavior.
During an exercise, the app will advise you to put your phone away and fully concentrate on the product. Using sound and light, Calmi guides you through a series of relaxing exercises based on your behavior and selection. Exercises include: soundscapes, lighting effects, and voice-overs.
During this project, one of the first steps was research. I contacted several experts (psychologists, coaches and people from the target audience) and asked them about the problem. They quoted; It’s not that we work too much, we simply take too little rest (especially when we are in our personal environment).
Experts also mentioned the difference between sleep and conscious relaxation, we need both to function properly. People are unaware of it and don't spend the necessary time taking breaks during the day.
Several concepts were developed that are similar in a few areas. First, they all remind the user when to calm down and offer exercises that teach the user how to relax. Second, a trigger was needed, both in real life and digitally to talk to the user. The product must form a bridge between both worlds.
To help people relax, experiments were conducted to influence a person's well-being and feeling. I tried to stimulate their senses with sound, light and smell. A combination makes it possible to get into a certain mood.
The end result is a 'smart-assisting product that carries the name "Calmi". A device that helps you calm down and can be used in different areas around the house. It stimulates the user's senses using a combination of audio and light effects.
The design phase is split into two parts. The product design (industrial) and digital design. I converted the product ideas into sketches, which later formed detailed 3D CAD drawings of the product and its internals. Various sustainable materials (like plastics made from corn starch and sugar cane) were used during prototyping and production. The product uses a speaker to make sound and LED's to produce light. A battery was added to make it portable and the wireless charging base station makes it very easy for the user to charge Calmi. The buttons on top of the device are being used to stop and start a specific action.
During the digital design phase, I focused on the overall branding of the product and the interface design of the mobile app. It had to be easy to use and feel calm and restful. A user uses the physical buttons on top of the device to start and stop sessions. Complex actions can be performed via the mobile app. The user can select his / her favorite exercises or check personal progress and the overall stress balance. Content is being shown to the user through cards.
Calmi is based on a dual-core ESP32 microcontroller. A very powerful and flexible piece of hardware that is very good at performing multiple tasks at the same time. During this process, various components and electronics were carefully selected.
Custom Firmware was designed to allow the ESP-32 to process audio, operate with multiple LEDs, and communicate wirelessly. Calmi uses the dual-core functionality of the ESP-32 to perform multiple tasks simultaneously while tracking the user's progress. The iOS application was built to communicatie with the physical device, send tasks to the device and gather user data like progress.
Content was created to test Calmi in real-life situations. Several exercises and atmospheric sessions were put together to see if Calmi could actually calm the user. These sessions are themed and carry names like "Forest Walk" or "Japanese Sunset". They often represent a feeling and story.