Challenge
The project aims to highlight one of the most important but underrated activities of human body; sleep. The most affected people are the ones who work in emergency services. Sleep is integral to such professionals as its an important driver for productivity on the job. The challenge was make a design solution which is physical and can evoke a visceral response.  

Outcome
The artefact was this project is a radio which plays news based on the mood, its owner wakes up with. The intention was to rejuvenate the mornings and provide interaction models which can be visceral and human like. 

Tags
#physicalcomputing
#sleep
#radio

Nidra

"Sleep is the best meditation." 
                                                                             – Dalai Lama

"Sleep is the best meditation." 
                                                                  – Dalai Lama

"Sleep is the best meditation."
                                               – Dalai Lama

"Sleep is the best meditation." 
– Dalai Lama

The Context

The work environment in today's time produces excessive stress and competition for its employees. This state of working takes a toll on people who work in professions like emergency services, aviation, etc. with erratic schedules. Due to the demanding nature of the work, people put their work before their health. Such routine, when adopted for a longer period of time, leads to many health hazards that fail to detect the real culprit i.e., Sleep Deprivation.

Can there be a way to help employees with an erratic schedule to trace their physiological and psychological state of being to sleep deprivation which they do not pay attention to? 

The Concept

Nidra (means sleep in Hindi) tinkers with the idea of externalising one’s emotion into a tangible form to bring something invisible to light. Nidra is a portable radio which plays news based on the mood that it’s owner wake up with. Upon waking up groggily, it plays positive news to alleviate the mornings to have a productive day in the office while in mornings, upon waking up in a good mood, it plays news from all the categories. It logs the mood every day and prints them out at each month’s end to introspect about work-life balance and other factors to make informed decisions. This enables Nidra to produce a short-term as well as a long-term impact on the office goers.

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The Process

The starting point was in-depth desk research about sleep and synthesis that involved learnings about the factors that contribute to sleep deprivation, the different problems prevalent in the society and the ways they impact the biological and physiological aspects of a human, scientific studies and experiments conducted by scientists in this domain.

The understanding of the subject got deeper when I interviewed a very wide range of people that included flight attendants, a month old mother, frequent traveller, sleep optimiser, journalist, sleep therapist and an entrepreneur who enables athletes to have a good sleep. They were a mixed bag of people who had either found a solution for themselves or were fighting it. After clustering their quotes and stories, following were the insights that emerged.

  • People often point outwards to their external circumstances as the cause for their physical state of being. They will often point towards their vocation or day on the job as the reason for experiencing depression, anxiety or sleep disorders.
  • Not having access to visualizing or measuring the quality of sleep easily makes it easier for people to ignore the role that sleep has in the quality of their life.
  • Not having access to visualizing or measuring the quality of sleep easily makes it easier for people to ignore the role that sleep has in the quality of their life.
  • Shift workers put work before their sleep and are self-driven. They strive to be most productive, alert and creative in their field but are unaware these intrinsic values can be correlated to sleep.
  • Shift workers put work before their sleep and are self driven. They strive to be most productive, alert and creative in their field but are unaware these intrinsic values can be correlated to sleep.

Following synthesis, HMWs were framed to ignite ideas and concepts.

To test the hypothesis, I ran small experiments.

  • Can the night's sleep impact the next day's productivity in a positive way? Participants were asked to record their sleeping, waking up time, the interruptions and estimate their productivity for the next day. Each night before bed, they were to estimate if they matched the productivity level they had set for themselves.

  • Can jet lag be mitigated if the traveller changes their routine as per the timing of the destination? I asked my fellow classmate to measure the energy dip that they had while travelling to another continent.

  • Can the ill-effects of bad night's sleep be mitigated with activities that one enjoys? Participants were asked to record the mood that they woke up with and were asked to do activities that they liked based on their mood.

Design Decisions

Two of my hypotheses were broken but the last one showed hope. Now the challenge was to optimise activity for more number of people as in the experiment, each participant had their favour activity. After conversations with few of my former colleagues, I learnt about a few activities that they do, that have the potential to scale. News, music, podcast and learning a language were the activities that they liked doing in the morning before going to the office. I had to choose an activity which was:

1. passive
2. soothing
3. alleviating
4. unobtrusive
5. should company the user

activities

In order to give the user an affordance to channelise their emotions in form of venting out their anger due to bad night's sleep and good mood upon waking up, feeling well rested, I experimented with different materials that could serve as extensions of those emotions.

slam
caress

The Inner Side

Schematic-1-01

Nidra contains a force sensing resistor, a thermal printer, a digital button, an Arduino UNO and a speaker. The FSR is covered with a soft (dog-like skin) cloth while a digital button is accentuated with a big size to bear the force of a punch. The interactions are inputted and received by Arduino sketch and then goes to Processing sketch where it connects with RSS feed of happy news websites to fetch and play-back news.

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