Panic Attack Sensor

 I’d like to design a biofeedback device that is a stress management tool for people suffering from panic attacks or anxiety disorders. It is a device designed for self-reflection that make a person aware of one’s own feeling.

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath. The symptoms are sudden, frightening, and difficult to manage. They typically reach their peak within ten minutes and resolve within thirty minutes. Deep slow breathing, coping statements and distractions help to shift focus from this overwhelming situation.


I will use a breath sensor that detects a panic attack through the symptom of shortness of breath. The device should interact by distracting the individual from a fearful situation by engaging the person in a multi-sensory experience through producing sounds and scents for a calming ambient.

The device will be a band that wraps around the diaphragm. Stretching the band will trigger a lavender scent to be released from an embedded essential oil cartridge, and will play a deep calming slow breathing sound track to AirPods speakers that are wirelessly controlled.


Initially I was aiming to use the Eeonyx Stretch Fabric sensor. In class and with the DIY_analog_senor.ino Arduino code, I measured the variable resistance at rest and when stretched to determine the minimum and maximum sensor values. The minimum value at rest was 60, and the Maximum value when stretched was 140.




Then, because of the limited supply of the Eeonyx Stretch Fabric, plans changed and I decided to use Rubber Stretch sensors instead. I went through measuring the variable resistance at rest and when stretched again to determine the minimum and maximum sensor values of that resistive material. Surprisingly, the resistance increases when the rubber is stretched, so when stretched the minimum sensor value was 480, and at rest the maximum value was 685.


Serial Monitor images below show readings of the rubber sensor values at rest and when stretched.



The Rubber stretch sensor is sewed to the interior side of a tank top. It is attached to an elastic band that is situated under the chest and wrapping around the breathing diaphragm. I intended to embed the sensors and wiring being invisible to make them feel more personal for self reflection.







Testing the prototype:



This prototype promises to interact by producing a qualitative effect that is a calming personal ambient for individuals to relax and be mindful of their own situation. When the breath sensor is activated the algorithm sends current to the Lavender oil cartridge to release a calming subtle scent, and also sends a current to a recorder to play a slow breathing sound track to co-perform with the individual as a way to guide for a deep relaxed breath. The device responds to a panic attack event and waits 5 minutes before repeating the loop. This delay allows the individual to have time to react and relax before repeating the loop of dispensing scent and producing sound.




Next Steps

I’m investigating in ways in giving authority to the individual with this breath sensor biofeedback device. That might be achieved by controlling the aromas and intensity of the released essential oils, and also by having control of playing, stopping or changing the sound track.

Information sources:

Corset Breathing Sensor