“These apps sometimes stimulate this tendency by giving fanatical people the possibility to keep track of their mindfulness minutes. In this way, the app becomes a game and a stress factor” (Jansen, 2018).
The illustrations I created for the breath focus tutorial portion of the experience.
I came across the research of Dr. Herbert Benson, the founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine where he leads scientific research on mindfulness practices, and helps bring mindfulness exercises into mainstream medicine. In his book The Relaxation Revolution, Benson explains the results of his scientific studies on the medical effects of mindfulness practices. “Those practicing mind body techniques tend to experience lower blood pressure, calmer brain activity, healthful emissions of nitric oxide in the body’s cells, and other physical and emotional benefits” (Benson, 2011). To create this mental state, patients are guided through the following process:
The different landscapes I illustrated for within the app
Given the approachability and scientific support behind Benson’s processes, I used this as a basic process with which I could design my own app around. I created an app that guides users through an audiovisual relaxation experience, and proposed to introduce different visual elements into the experience each time the app is used, in order to keep the experience interesting with day to day use and hopefully eliminate the need to send push notifications to keep the user interested in completing the exercises. I choose a pastel color palette, with primarily blues and greens for the interface.
After wireframing, I built a prototype of the app using Phonegap, and tested it with a small user group. The app prototype and accompanying research were presented at Minerva Art Academy's annual graduation exhibition.
Test participants were recorded with a camera on a tripod while the screen of the device was recorded simultaneously. By placing the footage side by side, I was able to observe users' reactions to the content in the app and discern parts of the user experience that were unclear.
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