Sonic Cradle


Sonic Cradle sus­pends the body is a com­pletely dark cham­ber which encour­ages expe­ri­ences com­pa­ra­ble to mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion.  Users com­pose peace­ful sound­scapes in real-time using only their breathing.

Introduction and demo of the Sonic Cradle

Sonic Cradle is a relax­ing human-computer inter­ac­tion par­a­digm designed to foster med­i­ta­tive atten­tional pat­terns.  The cur­rent pro­to­type is a dark­ened cham­ber which sus­pends indi­vid­u­als in a com­fort­able ham­mock while they pro­gres­sively con­trol sound through their own res­pi­ra­tion.  15 co-design ses­sions resulted in sev­eral tweaks and improve­ments aimed at bal­anc­ing users’ per­ceived sense of control.

A mixed meth­ods inves­ti­ga­tion of the iter­ated pro­to­type with a pur­po­sive sample of 39 par­tic­i­pants demon­strated how Sonic Cradle can pleas­antly encour­age mind­ful expe­ri­ences by con­sis­tently induc­ing a calm mental clar­ity and loss of inten­tion.  Surprisingly, par­tic­i­pants also reported per­cep­tual illu­sions, feel­ings of float­ing, and emo­tional responses.  This project breaks new ground toward ful­fill­ing technology’s poten­tial to expe­ri­en­tially per­suade people to adopt and psy­cho­log­i­cally ben­e­fit from con­tem­pla­tive prac­tices like mind­ful­ness meditation.

Jay Vidyarthi pre­sent­ing the Sonic Cradle as part of his thesis defense.

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Alex Kitson pre­sent­ing her paper on “Sonic Cradle: Investigating Meditative Aspects of an Interactive Technology” at the 2014 GRAND con­fer­ence in Ottawa (Kitson, Riecke, Vidyarthi, 2014)

Sonic Cradle is an inter­ac­tive system designed to encour­age a med­i­ta­tive atten­tional pat­tern akin to mind­ful­ness. Users are com­fort­ably sus­pended in a dark cham­ber where they use res­pi­ra­tion as a means to focus and con­trol an immer­sive sound­scape. Basic inter­pre­tive qual­i­ta­tive meth­ods along with three quan­ti­ta­tive scales, Affect Grid, Toronto Mindfulness Scale, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, that assess mood, mind­ful­ness, and anx­i­ety, respec­tively, were used to ana­lyze data of 30 par­tic­i­pants after 15-minute ses­sions of both Sonic Cradle and self– guided relax­ation. This talk is part of a larger study and will only dis­cuss the Toronto Mindfulness Scale. Results sug­gest that Sonic Cradle may help to induce a mindfulness-like state and offers a unique expe­ri­ence com­pared to simply trying to relax in a dark room with­out any assis­tance. With mount­ing evi­dence imply­ing mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion as an effec­tive prac­tice for self-regulation, our results are promis­ing that Sonic Cradle can be an effec­tive tool in cul­ti­vat­ing and increas­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal well-being. Moreover, Sonic Cradle can be instru­men­tal in intro­duc­ing mind­ful­ness to non-meditators or those who are unable to learn mind­ful­ness through more tra­di­tional means. 


» Listen to sound record­ings of the Sonic Cradle in use

» Watch a video demo of the Sonic Cradle artifact

» Learn more about the cross-disciplinary “immer­sion” frame­work which under­lies the Sonic Cradle con­cept

Recent extensions of the Sonic Cradle using Neurofeedback

Poster presented at the 2nd Mindfulness Conference in Rome, Italy 2016

Poster pre­sented at the 2nd Mindfulness Conference in Rome, Italy 2016

While the orig­i­nal Sonic Cradle design proved effec­tive by help­ing users reach a state com­pa­ra­ble to mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion, par­tic­i­pants reported that the sound­scape occa­sion­ally dis­tracted them from breath­ing mind­fully. To address this, we are inte­grat­ing EEG data from the Interaxon Muse head-set to detect when users have achieved a state of focused atten­tion, and grad­u­ally reduce the sound­scape incon­spic­u­ously. Conversely, when EEG data reveals a state of dis­trac­tion, the sound­scape becomes more salient, increas­ing its abil­ity to cue users back to their breath with curios­ity as proved to be effec­tive in Vidyarthi & Riecke (2013). As detailed in Prpa et al. (2016), after 15 min ses­sions with the Sonic Cradle + Muse, par­tic­i­pants reported sig­nif­i­cantly lower anx­i­ety and arousal levels and increased pleas­ant­ness levels, which is promis­ing. We are cur­rently incor­po­rat­ing feed­back into next design iterations


Press Coverage

“…[the] idea that music might be a way into med­i­ta­tive states led to asking ques­tions about whether meld­ing music, breath­ing tech­nique and com­puter tech­nol­ogy could open the door to non-meditators.” CBC/Radio-Canada (French Version)

“Sonic Cradle… rep­re­sents … a sort of tonic to the stress which many people feel the ubiq­uity of tech­nol­ogy induces in soci­ety.” PSFK

“[Sonic Cradle] is a med­i­ta­tive biofeed­back system… which essen­tially enhances the med­i­ta­tive expe­ri­ence to such a degree that begin­ners claim to be able to have out-of-body expe­ri­ences.” Portfolio (Conde Nast)

“[Sonic Cradle] is a machine that uses breath­ing pat­terns to create immer­sive sound­scapes — and then feed them straight back into your brain to create an tex­tured, infi­nite loop of bliss.” Motherboard.TV (Vice) (2)

“An SFU grad stu­dent project that melds music, med­i­ta­tion and tech­nol­ogy landed a rare spot as an exhibit at TEDActive 2012 in Palm Springs”

“In his master’s research project, Jay Vidyarthi asks, para­dox­i­cally, ‘Can tech­nol­ogy be used to free us from the stress asso­ci­ated with infor­ma­tion over­load?’” SFU Graduate Studies Blog



Prpa, M., Quesnel, D., Vidyarthi, J., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2016, May). Sonic Cradle — Immersive inter­ac­tion design com­bin­ing breath­ing– and neu­ro­feed­back to foster focused atten­tion med­i­ta­tion on breath [Poster]. 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome, Italy. (Download)
Kitson, A., Riecke, B. E., & Vidyarthi, J. (2014). Sonic Cradle: Investigating Meditative Aspects of an Interactive Technology. NCE-GRAND 2014 Conference, 1–4. (Download)
Vidyarthi, J., & Riecke, B. E. (2014). Interactively Mediating Experiences of Mindfulness Meditation. International Journal Of Human-Computer Studies, 72(8–9), 674–688. (Download)
Vidyarthi, J., & Riecke, B. E. (2013, May). Could an inter­ac­tive medium intro­duce non-practitioners to mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion? [Talk]. First International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome, Italy.
Vidyarthi, J., & Riecke, B. E. (2013). Mediated Meditation: Cultivating Mindfulness with Sonic Cradle. Proceedings of the 2013 Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems ALT.CHI, 2305–2314.
Vidyarthi, J. (2012). Sonic Cradle: Evoking Mindfulness through ‘Immersive’ Interaction Design [MSc Thesis, Simon Fraser University]. (Download)
Vidyarthi, J., Riecke, B. E., & Gromala, D. (2012). Sonic Cradle [Curated Virtual Reality Exhibition]. TEDactive con­fer­ence, Palm Springs, CA, USA.
Vidyarthi, J., Riecke, B. E., & Gromala, D. (2012). Sonic Cradle: design­ing for an immer­sive expe­ri­ence of med­i­ta­tion by con­nect­ing res­pi­ra­tion to music. Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems (ACM DIS) Conference, 408–417. (Download)
Vidyarthi, J., Riecke, B. E., & Gromala, D. (2012). Encouraging Meditative Experiences through Respiratory-Musical Interaction. NCE-GRAND 2012 Conference, 1–4. (Download)
Gromala, D., Vidyarthi, K. J., & Riecke, B. E. (2011). Sonic Cradle; Project Exhibition in Chronic Pain: Art & Science Collaborations [Exhibition].
Vidyarthi, J., Gromala, D., & Riecke, B. E. (2011). Are you Immersed? Characterizing Immersion across Literature, Art and Interactive Media [Talk]. Society of Literature, Science and Art (SLSA) Conference 2011, Kitchener, Canada.


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