Panic Attack

Andri Kumar

My project simulates what a panic attack is like by focusing on the physiological manifestations of a panic attack. Using PoseNet along with other materials, users enter an “augmented reality” in which they can see how their body changes during a panic attack. The purpose of the piece is to reveal to users that while anxiety is a normal human emotion, those that have an anxiety disorder experience anxiety at a much larger scale.


The piece would be presented on a computer screen. Users would sit across from the screen on a chair and put on a pair of headphones.

On the screen, users will first see text that provides a brief overview of the project. Users will be told that they will be entering a simulation that depicts how a body reacts when having a panic attack in a subway. The text will then fade away and footage of the inside of a crowded subway will appear on the screen. Users will see the people in the subway as well as hear the noises of a subway. The background of the subway will fade out into a vignette to reveal webcam footage of the user with lungs, heart, and veins mapped onto their body.

Next, users will the breathing, heart rate, thoughts, and emotions through headphones. The sounds are orchestrated in such a way to depict the changes that occur in these bodily elements during the panic attack. The changes in the physical body parts (heart, lungs, and blood) are depicted through the animation that will play on the associated areas of their body through PoseNet. After roughly 45 seconds of experiencing a “panic attack”, users will see text appear on the screen that explains to them what happened, provides closure, and offers links to mental health resources.

This simulation is almost complete and can be viewed at the project website.

The attached 30 seconds video is a screen recording of the panic attack simulation. During the video, you will be able to hear the audio that depicts the changes in breathing, heart rate, emotions, and thoughts. You will also be able to see the animation that will be applied to a user’s body through PoseNet. The animation depicts the changes in the user’s organs. The user shown is myself. I apologize for the poor video quality. I am currently working on fixing this issue.


Comm Lab: Hypercinema