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Calmingstone Panic Attack Prevention: Tech & Psychology


Deep breathing is the most natural form of a stress or anxiety relieving technique, however it takes time and practice to fully enjoy the benefits of this technique. In search of a product that would help reduce his anxiety, photographer and industrial designer Ramon Telfer developed the groundbreaking Calmingstone, a handheld pebble-like device that uses sound and light to ease anxiety. The Calmingstone places control over your anxiety in the palm of your hands.


Author: Siphilele Magagula

Photo: Courtesy of Dezeen

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The deep breathing technique, which has been practiced in meditation and mindfulness has also been backed by science, as research shows that slow deep breathing helps relieve feelings of anxiety. The Calmingstone provides an easier way to control your breathing by giving you a physical guide to focus on while experiencing panic attacks and anxiety.


Using Sensory Stimulations to Reduce Stress and Anxiety


Prompted by his seven year personal struggle with anxiety and panic attacks Ramon Telfer set out to develop a product dedicated to improving mental health as he felt there was no product in the market other than medication. Telfer combined his personal multiple anxiety relieving techniques as well as advice from psychologists to develop Calmingstone - “to deliver instant panic relief anywhere, anytime." As a believer in deep breathing for stress relief, Telfer sought to create a product that would amplify the experience of deep breathing by engaging the senses. He further elaborated: "Because stress is very real and life is a fully tactile, sensory experience, we have created and evolved our learnings into a beautiful, intimate product that anyone can hold, feel and listen to.”


The result was a responsive sensory device that uses an integrated heart rate sensor which monitors the user’s heart rate and mimics it through a softly glowing light and a slight pulsing sensation. The glow and pulse of the device reflects the user’s level of stress and anxiety - the more control the user gains of their heart rate and breath, the calmer the Calmingstone’s glow and pulse become. You are able to see and feel yourself calm down. The sensory stimulations of touch (pulsing sensation) and sight (glow) are amplified with sound as the user is transported into a deeper consciousness with relaxing and motivational guided audio (heard through bluetooth earphones) designed by experts from around the world specifically to help with deep breathing.


Image courtesy of Dezeen

Image courtesy of Dezeen


Image courtesy of Dezeen


The Calminstone’s design is based on a 2014 prototype that was simple enough to operate in a state of panic, and even in the dark, however the prototype had control buttons for the user to adjust settings (volume, light and pulse).


When redesigning the device one of the main priority was to have it fit ergonomically in the palm of your hand and make it more intuitive - placing control over your emotions in your hands and making the process as easy as possible.

Image courtesy of Dezeen


The inclusive pebble-like device portable is both portable and inclusive as people of all ages can easily control it. Subtle hand movements activate the device, making the device more intuitive than the original design. The design is inspired by nature and references Japanese Zen stacking stones.


With a synced App users are able to view their biofeedback - showing session data and personal progress.


Conclusion


The Calmingstone is a good illustration of the social tech movement - Recently, we observed an increasing number of collaborations between tech companies and psychology disciplines in an effort to tackle mental health. Innovations such as Limbix’ VR Exposure Therapy prototype, CoeLux’s daylight mimicking light fixtures that combat Seasonal Affective Disorder and the DEEP VR video game which aims to help users reduce anxiety, stress and mild depression by teaching breathing techniques. It is encouraging and motivating to witness how technology can provide new tools improve populations’ mental wellbeing.




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