2017 Innovation By Design Awards honoree

The goal of the project is to investigate the impact of the manipulation of respiration on emotional state and to build a wearable system/product that uses psychoacoustics to alter the user's respiration behavior. 

Our brain constantly integrates sensory signals from the body to produce a representation of self. The way we feel isn’t just restricted to our brain, there are parts of our bodies help, reinforce and even initiate the feelings we’re having. Our perception of internal activities, either a slow heart rate or breathless respiration, annotates a quiet night or a exciting encounter in life. 

We designed Masque, a facial accessory that senses the wearer’s respiration, while altering their auditory perception of respiration using bone conduction. With high precision and fast speed temperature sensor, Masque detects the breathing activities and plays back a mediated breathing sound synchronously. Throughout our study and related cognitive research works, users easily mistake the false breathing feedback sound as if their actual respiration status. Hearing perfectly synced short, quick inhaling/exhaling makes people “experience” shortness of breath and eventually changes the real respiration rhythm.

We believe it is possible to build something both practical and imaginary. Tapping into this loop of body and mind, Masque opens the possibilities of altering human interoceptive experience and their cognitive effects. 

In collaboration with Xin Liu, MIT Media lab research assistant.

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