Biofeedback in VR - SOLAR


Resonance in Virtual Environments: hacking biofeedback for altering user's affective states

How can we com­bine immer­sive vir­tual envi­ron­ments (VE) with biofeed­back and gam­i­fi­ca­tion to foster relax­ation, de-stressing and med­i­ta­tive states?

That is, instead of increas­ing sen­sory over­load, can we use the immer­sive and affec­tive poten­tial of VE and gam­i­fi­ca­tion to assist espe­cially novice med­i­ta­tors in expe­ri­enc­ing med­i­ta­tive and relax­ing states through play­ful explo­ration with a bio-feedback based inter­ac­tion design com­bin­ing breath­ing sen­sors and EEG? 

SOLAR is an immer­sive vir­tual envi­ron­ment (VE) gen­er­ated by user’s brain activ­ity and res­pi­ra­tory rate. The pur­pose of this design was to sup­port novice med­i­ta­tors in estab­lish­ing their med­i­ta­tion prac­tice, as well as to pro­vide a unique expe­ri­ence to more expe­ri­enced med­i­ta­tors. We grounded our design on pre­vi­ous work, out­lin­ing the ele­ments that we find effec­tive and gaps that need to be filled by our design. The design prin­ci­ples employed in our design are: Thought Distancing; Abstract Visual Elements; Rewarding System; Immersion and Attention Restorative Theory – ART; and Affective Connectedness; We eval­u­ated our design deci­sions through par­tic­i­pa­tory design activity.

prob­lem: Many novice med­i­ta­tors find med­i­ta­tion hard.
Most common rea­sons are: unfa­mil­iar­ity with med­i­ta­tion prac­tice, and lack of a feed­back on how they are doing.

design goal: design a vir­tual envi­ron­ment that novice med­i­ta­tors will use as a tool for learn­ing med­i­ta­tion and get­ting into practice.

reli­a­bil­ity: the per­for­mance of sen­sors proved to be incon­sis­tent, which can have a high impact on one’s expe­ri­ence
gen­er­al­iz­abil­ity: pro­to­type 1 was eval­u­ated during SFU Open House, and we assume that most of our study par­tic­i­pants are affil­i­ated with SFU. This might affect the results of the study, and the result might not be con­sis­tent if there was a vari­ety of the participants.

Video of stimuli

Mirjana’s pre­sen­ta­tion at Mindcare 2015:


Prpa, M., Cochrane, K., & Riecke, B. E. (2015). Hacking alter­na­tives in 21st cen­tury: Designing bio-responsive vir­tual envi­ron­ment for stress reduc­tion. Presented at the MindCare 2015, Milano, Italy. (Download)