Developing an Advanced Prototype at Body Scale ✼

Week 04 | Dec 01–04

AK | CS | RE | ZU
4 min readDec 1, 2020

Tuesday, December 1st

Before our group splits again for the textile workshop, we updated those who were not there for the end of last week on our progress. As a quick refresh, our concept was sparked by a question that was raised during one of our many discussions: “What is our relationship with our emotions?” We began to imagine what it might be like to have a wearable of some kind, which enables you to have a conversation with your ever-changing emotional state. What would this conversation look like? We thought it would be interesting to explore the variation of breathing patterns you experience with human emotion (e.g. You breathe sharply and quickly when you’re crying, and slowly and deeply when you’re relaxed). How could a wearable communicate to you through breath?

After bringing everyone up to speed and agreeing upon the current direction we split up tasks to work faster and accomplish more. Some of us focused more on the data side of the wearable, looking into what we measure, such as the breath or heart rate or both. We also began working with the Arduino and the three AIRPO vacuum pumps given to us by Andrés so we could test them out and hopefully incorporate them into our prototype. Simultaneously we worked on sketching out some ideas for the wearable, considering the aesthetic and where it would be placed on the body.

Beautiful soldering job by Colin on the AIRPO Vacuum Pumps
Possible sketches for our wearable

We also bought modelling balloons and silicone to test out with the air compressor. The former were easier to work with than normal balloons, because they were skinny and long, resembling muscles. Our only issue with using balloons, however, is that they don’t allow for flexibility of form—we would be stuck working with the balloon’s predetermined shape. This led us into research mode, where we fell down a rabbit hole of soft robotics and soft actuators. We found a YouTube video from Harrison Young who has a simple method to make inflatable silicon tubes, so we bought some silicon from Jumbo and tried it out.

Roman testing out the modelling balloons with the air compressor
Mimicking the breath; Music: King Porter Stomp by Joel Cummins, YouTube Audio Licence Library

We waited a total of 4 hours for the silicon to dry, and were super excited to see it in action, but when we tested it, it broke with only a small amount of air pressure from a syringe. This showed us that we would need an extremely flexible and elastic silicone to have it be inflatable, and ordering this may not be possible timewise.

Music: Sonatina №2 in F Major Rondo by Joel Cummins, YouTube Audio Licence Library
All our soft robotics & soft actuators inspiration; links are included in the figma file

Wednesday, December 2nd


What if we prioritized our emotional health the way we do our physical health?


What if digital devices, similar to smartwatches and fitness trackers, could help us to better understand our emotions?


Unlike our physical health, it is not intuitive or helpful to count or measure our emotions; we experience and are in constant conversation with them.

How then, would such a device communicate with us?


We think breath is the language of our emotions.

Our breath is deeply connected with our emotional state. When we cry our inhale is sharp and the exhale is quick, but in a moment of calm it is slow and deep.

Our wearable supports the understanding of emotions by interpreting bio-data into a breathing motion. This influences the rhythm of the body and therefore one’s sense of calm.

Friday, December 4th

A booklet created to show our concept, inspiration, and catwalk prototype.

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Music: Butterflies in Love by Sir Cubworth, YouTube Audio Licence Library



AK | CS | RE | ZU

Interaction Design students from the Zurich University of the Arts documenting their process during the Embodied Interaction module.