Ingrid and I continued using the heart rate monitor and wanted to see if you can train yourself to be more calm during presentations. We thought it would be perfect to test out during midterm presentations. Since there was only one strap, I decided to use it for my actual thesis presentation and Ingrid said she would be more nervous during the public walk through so she wore it then.
Originally we had the slides connected to a blur filter which was mapped to your heart rate. So the more nervous you got the more blurry the slides would get. But after testing it and getting feedback we realized that it would spiral into a feedback loop that might send someone (us) into a panic in a real situation. So someone mentioned instead of doing a blur effect to put a calming picture of movie in the background and map the image transparency to your heart rate. So if your heart rate goes up then the calming image appears. We thought it was an interesting idea and brought in an image of a sooth beach.
I was really nervous about midterm presentations and wasn’t sure if having a device strapped was unconsciously making me more nervous. I tested the heart rate monitor many times before the actual midterm presentation with other people so I wouldn’t freak out using it. But I think the part that actually made me nervous was trying to get it all set up before the presentations because I was first and had only about 2 minutes to get the arduino and my presentation set up.
It was interesting that how my base rate of high 70′s, low 80′s would jump immediately once I started talking. For thesis we were supposed to answer questions like, “What is your Thesis” and “What do you expect to have at the end of the semester.” The interesting thing I noticed is that consistently my heart rate would jump every time I asked myself a question in my own talk.
In terms actually watching the beach scene it didn’t seem really effective during the presentation just because it is too much to concentrate on and it ends up you having to focus on what you’re going to say next or the actual presentation slides. So I’m not sure that was effective. But I think really the best use is to have your biometrics codified with the presentation because it was really interesting to see the things that consistently made me nervous and I’m not sure if I’ll wear it for further presentations just because it’s really stressful setting up the arduino and making sure it’s working. But I thin it’s helpful to analyze which parts increased your biometric input the most.
Right before asking the question to myself 86 bpm:
Asking the question made my heart rate jump to 106 bpm:
A comment about the initial slide-blurring version of this project: I actually enjoyed the initial version of this project we presented 2 weeks ago in class. The feedback loop was indeed spiraling me into increased nervousness, however I found it very entertaining even though at the moment all I wanted to do was hide under the desk as the class stared and waited for my heart-rate to go down to a normal human rate. It’s so amazing how the body takes over during such moments, with no real reason to feel threatened.
I think our initial thought was to somehow visualize what is happening inside our mind as we get nervous, and so the very blurred slides were successful in showing how I felt at that moment. It was also entertaining to watch my heart-rate react so quickly as I went back to my seat, and again as I went back to the front of the class. We believe that if we were to continually go through the same process in front of the class, our mind and body would eventually get over that stress and learn to adjust, however it may take quite a while.
Project update: In the meantime, Inessah and I wanted to find a quicker way to calm the mind so we decided to insert the image of a calm beach scene which gently indicates to the user wearing the heart-rate monitor that they are getting slightly nervous. The peaceful scene only appears with increasing heart-rate. In our code, we had included a screen-grab action when we hit the ‘b’ key. ‘B’ for ‘breathe. So whenever the beach-scene appeared, that meant we were getting nervous, and were reminded to hit ‘b’ for a screenshot, and as a result were reminded to breathe. There is a small learning curve here, but it became quite effective. The beach-scene was not at all distracting or aggressive and probably contributed a bit to help us calm down. The main idea here was to create a type of training program to take control over your presentation anxiety. We had a lot of fun working on it.