Embla | William Pepera

Embla Sympathetic Environments

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Perspective

Stress and anxiety are natural responses to perceived threat. However, when they become chronic and ongoing, that can have an adverse effect on health and wellbeing.

Insight

Heating, lighting, sound and other environmental factors can subtly yet greatly affect our state of mind and physiology through our senses.

Vision

Working environments which adapt based on individual preferences and biometric data to reduce stress, induce alertness amongst other desired physiological responses.

Research and Background

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Human Augmentation


From an initial brief of physical augmentation, the team was initially interested in subdermal implants, operated without an external power source. During the group hackathon, the team worked on rudimentary physical augmentations to explore the practicality of divergent future technologies. This included creating a power harvesting vest, glasses with built-in haptic feedback navigation and conductive tatoos.

The embodiment of these prototypes was severly limited by current battery technology. We believe that this will still be the case in 20 years time. A subdermal implant would require a high density battery that has a certain amount of compliance, a long charge cycle life and be safe to remain inside the body for a lifetime. This level of technology is unlikely to be met and limits implanted augmentations to be made up of passive electronics, severly limiting the amount of technology we have access to design with.

However, it should be noted that although the phrase ‘human augmentation’ is invocative of cybernetic enhancements, the phrase actually covers a much broader spectrum that involves any technology that can alter the phsyiology of the body.

We deduced that the most eective human augmentation in the near future will be a wearable, this has the additional benefit of allowing the user to retain full body autonomy.

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The STEEPV method to organise our thoughts and findings. We analysed social, technological, human and economical impacts. Following these findings, we were able to develop a concept which focused on mental health in the workplace.

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The State of Workplace Stress


Further investigation highlighted the connection between our physical and mental states, as increasing amounts of technology begin to interface with our brain, nervous system and senses. Stress management is an area of concern in our increasingly connected lives. Actively trying to manage one’s stress can sometimes make it worse, as the stress itself becomes an area of concern and cause of anxiety. Methods of autonomous and passive stress management could address this.

Market Analysis

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Concept Development

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Sympathetic Environments


Our environements are an extenstion of our bodies and can have a profound impact on our mental and physical state through our senses. Temperatures above 21° C have been shown to trigger thermo-sensitive physiological mechanisms. The disruption of the circadian rhythm is proven to lead to serious physical and mental health problems, including impulsivity, reduced mental flexibility and lower levels of happiness. The sense of smell demonstrates a powerful link between the nose, the limbic system and emotional states. Embla reduces stress by providing localised workplace environments that adapt to the user’s stress level.

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System Design


Knowing what stresses them out and what calms them down is of huge value to the user. They will be the only one with guaranteed access to all of their personal data. They can use this to develop insights about themselves, which sort of environments suit them best, when, where and how they work best. They will have the option to share this data with whomever they like and will be able to seek help and inform others about their condition with reliable data, including healthcare professionals, without worrying as much about not being believed.

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Sensing Stress


A wrist wearable collects the biomteric data, heart rate and galvanic-skin response, to get an indication of the user’s stress level.

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After putting together the physical testing environment, the hard work suddenly seemed a lot easier.

Hardly surprising, given temperature controlled fans, adjustable lighting and Muji aroma diffuser.

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Next Project

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