This research explores the use of an Internet of Things system of anticipatory responsive smart objects as a vehicle for reducing stress within a workstation environment leading to better workplace quality of life.
Currently, most of our technological interaction resides right in front of our faces or in the “focused attention” and are obtrusive. In order to develop technological interactions that are unobtrusive and therefore calming in nature - researchers say that the technology should engage both the center of our focus and the periphery - and more importantly move seamlessly between the two. Many of these objects also rely heavily on our vision, making them difficult to ignore and drawing in our focused attention. Therefore, I looked at ways I could incorporate other senses into the equation.
To reach the final branding and interaction with these objects, major iteration had to occur. I started by interviewing young professionals in the field (ages 21-30) to truly understand what exactly in their workplace caused them stress. From then I went to the drawing board to generate ideas. This process was rewarding because although most of the generated ideas did not end up being part of my final design, it pushed me to think more user-centered and truly place myself in the shoes of others. Below are a few of the ideas that I brought to the table.
In order for this connection of IoT devices to work, I knew that there needed to be a system in place. Therefore, I developed my own calm technology system. Through research I came to the conculsion that in order for this sytem to anticipate and respond to workpalce stressors there needed to be two interaction cycles. INTERACTION CYCLE ONE: The first interaction cycle is continuously collecting data about the user. So for example: the users pulse, who they are communicating with in the office, how many times they get up from their desk, and even their tone of voice when speaking on the phone, along with others. Below are a few of the ideas that I brought to the table. INTERACTION CYCLE TWO: Interaction cycle two is once this data is collected through cycle one, over time it learns the user and then can anticipate the stressor before it happens and respond appropriately through different stimuli and attention levels. Collectively however, in order for the entire calm technology system to work, they both must continuously react to each other and cycle together.
VI•A PIECE – THE FINAL DESIGN
My final system focuses on two ordinary everyday objects in a workstation, a pencil holder, and a desk mat. The final exercises decided upon were derived from research that are common when dealing with anxiety and other exercises researchers claim will positively decrease users’ anxieties such as power posing. EXERCISE 1: Synchronized breathing, or also known as deep breathing, specifically called 4-7-8, asks the user to breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven and breathe out for eight. EXERCISE 2: According to the Mayo Clinic a coping exercise called the "5-4-3-2-1," focuses the user's attention on something other than a stressor. These now smart objects are connected to the internet and a range of devices. EXERCISE 3: Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, speaks on behalf of "power posing”. Exercise three leads users to hold a specific power pose before interacting with a stressor. Through the continuous collection of data--this ecosystem of objects learns what triggers the user’s workplace stressors and can now respond through these certain exercises. Below is a scenario video of how moments of interaction could occur.