A lot of mental health issues go undiagnosed as the lines can be blurred between standard emotional reactions and those which characterize certain conditions. Panic attacks are a key example as they can be experienced by those without anxiety disorders under certain circumstances, but underlying conditions can also be ignored as a result.
2.5 Years (On and Off)
This is a solo project.
Use technology to monitor and manage panic attacks.
This project began largely as a technological exploration, rather than starting from a human-centered perspective. I mainly wanted to improve my web (HTML, CSS, JS, p5.js) and Arduino (C++) prototyping skills.
Wearable Device Prototype
This project stemmed from my desire to experiment with microcontrollers and biosensors in order to explore the potential of the technology and understand how it could be applied to medical product design.
For the final project of my Arduino class, I spent three weeks developing the initial prototype of a wearable device that tracks the user’s BPM and perceives a BPM increase over 120 for more than 10 seconds as a panic attack. Upon detection of a panic attack, it emits a set of relaxing vibrations to regulate the user’s breathing. The user can also press a button to trigger these vibrations manually.
v1 Prototype Components:
Powered by an Arduino
Heart rate sensor detecting BPM
Vibrating disc programmed to demonstrate the ‘4, 7, 8’ relaxation exercise whenever the heart rate spikes over 120 for more than 10 seconds
The '4, 7, 8' exercise involves the user breathing in for 4 seconds, holding their breath for 7, and breathing out for 8
The disc buzzes 4 times, buzzes continually for 7 and then buzzes 8 times
Button which manually triggers the ‘4, 7, 8’ exercise
LCD screen displaying the user’s heart rate in real-time
v2 Prototype Goals:
Find smaller components in order to make the wearable more compact
Make the pulse sensor a wireless earpiece or find an effective wrist sensor
Have the sensor establish a baseline heart rate for the individual rather than have a standardized ‘panic attack’ BPM setting
Connect the wearable to a coded app prototype
I envisioned this wearable device being paired with an app on which the user could view a record of their detected or reported panic attacks, note down symptoms and possible triggers, send this data to their physician, and access relaxation exercises via a "panic button". I fleshed out this idea by creating a coded prototype (using HTML, CSS, vanilla JS, and p5.js) of a standalone mobile app.
Regarding visuals, I used colors that were calming and relaxing, namely shades of blue and white. I also used simple screen layouts that would make it easier for users to navigate the site if they were in a flustered state.
A video walkthrough of the prototype can be found below.
During this project, I further developed my knowledge of web development and prototyping with Arduino and C++, as well as learning how to work with additional sensors and hardware.
This project served as inspiration for my undergraduate thesis project (Chronic(ling) Pain), which explored the tracking, management, and treatment of chronic pain.