Linda Stone calls it “email apnea“, people attribute it to poor posture and anxiety, but regardless it’s clear that our health and well-being are affected by one of the tools we use the most – our computers.
Playing with a stretch sensor and breath-graph showed me some of the short term effects of the way we tend to breathe at out computers. Every time I saw my breath fall on the graph I felt a subtle, nagging anxiety – the kind I tend to attribute to personal insecurities, or overwhelmedness. It was a revelation to me that those feelings could have a biological rather than psychological basis.
Researching breath was enlightening – I discovered that certain chronic illnesses correlate with inconsistent blood oxygen levels. Subsequently I also found resources on breath centric exercises for countering cancer, high cholesterol and heart attacks.
During research and user testing it became clear to me that iBreathe is a necessary step toward remedying a larger problem.
Computers are built to be highly functional machines. They facilitate so much for us, providing us with extraordinary means of gathering information and communicating with each other. But it is increasingly clear that computing is bad for our bodies. Computers often encourage mind-centric activity, ignoring our physicality – leading us to hunch over to use them, manipulate our hands and wrists in damaging ways, remain sedentary for long periods of time, and – of course – they make us forget to breathe!
But there are changes we can make to have computers subtly strengthen us instead of crippling us.
iBreathe is one of a number of ways we can draw attention to the issues inherent in how compute currently. Being aware of these shortcomings is the first step toward adjusting computers to fit us, instead of us bending over to fit them.