Visualizing stress levels-both yours and your partner’s
Funnily enough, I’ve been working on this concept (without knowing it was called exformation) in one of my classes called Product Poetry. In that class, the attempt is to create a device that would allow couples to tune in to each other’s emotional and mental lives in a more meaningful way. One of the ways my partner and I chose to work this concept was to design a device (in the form of a watch/bracelet/other such wearable that is in contact with the body) that measures a person’s rate of breathing and visualize that back for that person and also on their partner’s device. One of the main factors in stress reduction is that we are rarely aware when our breathing is off-kilter and the ability to have that visualized could evoke that awareness. The next step would be for your partner (who is not in the same physical location) to be able to ‘see’ your increased breath rate/ stress and affect it by breathing slowly himself. This would change the visualization of his breathing on your device and allow you to calm down through the act of syncing your breath rate with his.
This is a loose conceptual video of the idea that we made for the Product Poetry class to show the concept:
2. An extension of that idea is related to Rapport. Connect with another person, especially a stranger or someone you haven’t known very long calls for rapport which is unconsciously created when two people are in sync. For eg, when two people are in sync, one person will tend to unconsciously mirror the other’s subtler actions, like folding their hands when the other person does, play with their hair etc.
Mirroring can also help facilitate that rapport. Something as small as being aware of your pace of speech or tone vis a vis the person your talking to can help in modulating this behaviour. For, eg, I’ve noticed that I talk faster than a lot of people and when I’m talking to someone who speaks slowly and softly, we’re not connecting as well. Changing my pace and tone to match theirs has had a positive effect. So in this regard, having a device that could visualize certain factors like pace, tone, breath rate, of both people could be very interesting. Apart from feedback in that immediate moment, there would be some useful information to be gleaned about the emotional tenor of our conversations and even our relationships. What if a couple’s conversations/discussions/fights etc could be visualized on a larger projection and could be seen over time? In a study, Dr John Gottman developed a model to predict which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. His models employed Paul Eckman’s method of analyzing human emotion and microexpressions. He argued that an excess of sentiments such as disgust, contempt etc that came through the voice and expression were corrosive & boded badly for the relationship of the couple under observation, while outbursts of anger without these nuances were still healthy. In that regard, being able to see the interplay of emotions between you and your partner, or any other relationship could create the necessary awareness needed to change and improve the health of the relationship.