Assignment 1 — Speculative Wearable: Kate Jung

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Process:

I began my brainstorming process with the ideation exercise, and came up with three different combinations with 7 total variations. After completing my ideation process for the earrings, I decided to move forward with earrings as the form of my speculative wearable.

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Concept & Objective:

My wearable is a pair of earrings that detects high levels of anxiety or stress on the wearer, then activates sound therapy to provide them instant, discrete support.

As someone who experiences anxiety (and know people with other mental health conditions such as PTSD), I always thought it would be great for there to be a device that alleviates stress in real-time, and help those who need calming down — even if the impact is small. Therefore, my concept for the wearable is a pair of earrings that is constructed of two parts:

First, the input: a gemstone-like stud is pressed against the earlobe and measures stress with photoplethysmogram (PPG) technology, monitoring the pulse through blood flow in the skin. Following similar devices on the market (such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear), the technology allows light to be emitted through LED, which gets reflected by blood present under the skin. The reflected light is absorbed by photodiode to detect blood flow.

Because earrings are worn flush against the skin, this would create a better quality of contact between the device and the skin, and provide comfort to the wearer rather than having to wear clunky fitness watches or heart-rate monitors. Also, while wrist or skin-based devices sometimes shift around depending on a person’s movements, earrings can provide a more stable reading. According to research by ‘The Ear-o-Smart Smart Earring’ — another form of wearable earrings — physicians regularly use the earlobe to monitor the heart rate and blood oxygen of patients because the high blood flow in the area provides greater accuracy.

Second, the output: Once the top part of the earrings detects high rates of blood pressure, the bottom part (the part of the earrings that ‘dangle’ underneath and is larger, with a shell-like shape) would be triggered. This is a mini audio transmitter. The ‘holes’ that are dotted along the lines of this area would be where audio would be transmitted through the speaker.

In science, there has always been strong evidence that music has mental and physical health benefits. Audio such as vibrational therapy or meditation also offers therapeutic benefits to the body.

According to the Center for trauma, Stress and Anxiety, these are some benefits of sound healing:

– Immediate reduction in anxiety and stress
– Improves symptoms of depression
– Improves stress management
– Promotes sleep
– Reduces blood pressure
– Increases blood circulation
– Enhances memory, concentration, and focus
– Improves mood and sense of happiness

There are different forms of audio that can be therapeutic to those who are experiencing anxiety / stress, including alpha waves, vibrational waves, meditation sound therapy — or even just playing their favourite, relaxing song. I would imagine my wearable would allow the users the capability of progamming their own, preferred sounds onto the device depending on what helps them the most.

In conclusion, these earrings can be worn by anyone in the world who experiences stress and anxiety, but may have a larger benefit for those who experiences regular forms of mental health issues such as anxiety attacks, depression, etc. The earrings can also be worn in all-day, every-day use as they shouldn’t look too different than a normal pair of earrings (my paper prototype actually ended up a little bit larger than I would imagine it). Because it’s comfortable to wear and identical to the feeling of wearing normal earrings, people would be able to wear it for extended periods of time.


Images:

Sketches

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Paper Prototype
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Material Moodboard:

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The following are some material that inspired me when imagining this wearable:
– A portable battery with a steel-like cover
– A speaker with metal netting
– Some earrings (one with a gemstone, and the other a smooth metal)
– A coin
– Metal beads
– A reflective gemstone


Similar Works:

The Ear-o-Smart Smart Earring: The Ear-o-Smart is a smart earring that is designed to function as a fitness tracker. It is able to detect heart rate, calories, as well as activity level. (The information I included above about the earlobe as an ideal location for heart rate tracking was sourced from their website.)

Pip: This device is a biosensor that senses electrodermal activity (EDA), the electrical changes at the surface in the skin, to detect stress response. When the wearer grasps it between their fingers, this information is communicated via Bluetooth technology to Pip’s iOS and Android Apps.

References:

Home |. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://thepip.com/en-eu/

BioSensive. (n.d.). Introducing Joule Earring Backings! Retrieved from https://shopjoule.com/

Vibrational Sound Healing. (2020, December 29). Retrieved from https://www.ctsatherapy.com/vibration-sound-healing/

Wei, M. (2019, July 05). The Healing Power of Sound as Meditation. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201907/the-healing-power-sound-meditation

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