The Rest of Me
WORK IN PROGRESS
Consider the much anticipated virtue-reality computer gaming technology hacked, FLOW is an immersive biofeedback-based meditation experience that turns the concept of computer gaming inside out. A participant wears an Oculus Rift head-mounted display, headphone, a breath-sensing waistband, and sits still in a chair. When the system is activated, the participant is temporarily transported into an alternative three-dimensional virtual world. The hustle and bustle of the traffic, honking taxis, abandoned warehouses and storefronts, rats scavenging through garbage bags, human voices talking, laughing, shouting – a post apocalypse city struggling to grapple with its human hosts. Gradually, as participant’s breath starts to calm down, the noises are replaced by a soothing ambiance binaural soundwave. As breathing pattern continues to deepen, a tranquil ocean wave sound emerges. The entire city is slowly submerged under an endless ocean gently padding the shore. Opaque sky covered with filthy gas residue are washed away by mild glow of sunset. Through deepened breathing, participant manifests his or her inner calmness into a virtual sanctuary sustained by wondrous aesthetic harmony.
Not about sound bites and who can shout loudest and who wins and who loses, FLOW is an alternative new-media technology experience that attempts to bring back one of the most essential human qualities – the ability, through self-reflection, to detach from the physicalities around us.
I have always been interested in how new-media technology can help people gather more information to answer the questions – What am I like? What are my irrational thoughts and emotions that I wasn’t aware of? I was strongly influenced by Harvard psychology professor Dan Gilbert’s research on synthetic happiness. In a recent study about human mind wandering (M.A.Killingsworth & D.T.Gilbert, 2000), Dr. Gilbert points out that people’s mind wander frequently, and people are in general less happy when their mind wander, regardless of what activities they are engaging in. The concept of mindlessness inspired my further research into ancient eastern philosophy, particularly techniques for practicing detachment, such as meditation, mantra, breathing techniques etc. I have also conducted research on biofeedback therapy and virtual reality immersion therapy (VRIT). A study conducted by Rauch, Eftekhari and Ruzek (McLay, et al., 2012) examined the effectiveness of Virtual Reality Therapy in treating military combat personnel recently returning from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a sample of 42 combat servicemen who were already diagnosed with chronic PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), 20 of the servicemen observed a significant decrease of symptoms of PTSD after receiving Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy.
Binauro-sound breathing tests
Brainwave type associated with consciousness
> 40 Hz Gamma waves
Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness
13–39 Hz Beta waves
Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and or paranoia
7–13 Hz Alpha waves
Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, Dreams
8–12 Hz Mu waves
Mu rhythm, Sensorimotor rhythm
4–7 Hz Theta waves
Deep meditation/relaxation, NREM sleep
< 4 Hz Delta waves
Deep dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness
Perceived human hearing is limited to the range of frequencies from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, but the frequencies of human brain waves are below about 40 Hz. If a 315 Hz sine wave is played into the right ear and a 325 Hz one into the left ear, the brain is entrained towards the beat frequency 10 Hz, in the alpha range. Since alpha range is associated with relaxation, this has a relaxing effect, or if in the theta range, more alertness.
As an experiment, I used a stretch sensor to visualize my breathing in real time and compared my breathing pattern while conducting different activities. Without any device, my breath pattern was relatively shallow and rapid. When I was able to visualize my inhale and exhale pattern on the screen, my breath became deeper. My breath was the deepest when I played a Deep Theta 5.5 Hz soundtrack (see below) and closed my eyes. I was able to control mind-wandering with ease.
Deep Theta Binauro Sound – 5.5 Hz.
Oculous Rift and Breathing Test
Negative Emotion Test
Game Design Testing