On a brief trip to Tokyo in early 2020, I was strongly inspired by a visit to The Social Haptics Lab, an interactive exhibition at the NTT InterCommunication Centre. The Tactile TV opened my eyes to the wonders of multi-sensory stimulation as a means of virtual interaction. I took this newfound appreciation for haptic technology and coupled it with the intense longing for nature immersion I'd experienced while living in Melbourne's COVID-19 lockdowns to create eDin exp. Thinking back to my late father's experiences in surviving his stroke with speech and mobility impairments, I'd realised several points in his journey at which better mental health interventions could have greatly improved his rehabilitation and thus improve his overall quality of life.
Research in stroke, survivors, and their far from monolithic rehabilitation journeys pointed towards the cause-effect relationship between post-stroke disability and the lack of mental health support survivors would typically receive in the first few months of coming out of a stroke. With the help of hundreds of medical journals and several exchanges with the medical professionals of Alfred Health's stroke ward, I produced a virtual immersion setup for stroke patients to use in the first few months of their in-hospital residence. Due to the constraints of designing in a pandemic without access to adequate user-testing, the outcome of this project remains a prototype that calls for further development before being ready for public use.
Stroke survivors who remain hospitalised for long periods of time struggle to achieve adequate rest and productive rehabilitation due to mood disorders. Deteriorating mental health directly affects the level of rehabilitation survivors can achieve. Despite the concurrent provision of psychological therapy as per the national guideline, in-hospital patients require more mental health support. Immersion in nature proves helpful in improving moods but is inaccessible to these in-hospital stroke survivors. With the success of multi-sensory stimulation in mood stabilisation, there is the opportunity to provide stroke survivors with a virtual experience of nature via multi-sensory stimulation to navigate loss, grief, anxiety and emotional struggles. My project aims to deliver a tactile experience simulating moving bodies of water, thus heightening the virtual immersion of an element of nature widely believed for promoting well-being. This wearable product will be used in tandem with audiovisual stimulation and aromatherapy for an all-encompassing virtual coastal experience.
A teaser that preceded the making of eDin exp.
Many thanks to my rock star supervisor, Pierre Proske, for developing an openFrameworks programme that would turn the audiovisual data I'd collected into haptic vibrations.
Clamour does the work of taking audio input to create vibration patterns that are then channelled to the haptic device via an Arduino setup.
For this project, I'd spent weeks down at the beaches in the Shire of Mornington Peninsula to collect footage of ocean waves. By analysing the audio data on Audacity, I found that not all ocean sounds are capable of producing discernible vibration patterns. Thus, it took the right elemental conditions to get the exact kind of waves I was looking for that would provide tranquillity instead of anxiety.
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