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Renaud Gervais

Researcher, designer, technologist. I strive for a more positive impact of technology in our lives.

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Mindfulness has been shown to provide mental and physical health benefits to its practitioners. However, like physical exercise, mindful practices are not easy to integrate into a daily routine. Not only that, unlike physical exercise where goal setting and games can make it more engaging, making mindfulness motivating is tricky as goal-setting and other standard strategies would be contradictory with mindfulness itself.

We propose to tackle this problem with Inner Garden, an augmented sandbox that is inspired by both the reflective and metaphoric nature of zen gardens as well as the playful nature of sandboxes. The sand is used to create a miniature living world where the state of the world is influenced by the user’s real-time breathing patterns and heart rate. You can play with the sand directly with your hands, shaping the landscape. When you leave the garden alone for a moment, the vegetation starts to grow, trees appearing. The waves of the sea, as well as the wind, are controlled by your breathing patterns, helping to bring back the attention to the body. We also provided a virtual reality modality where you can choose a location inside your garden and travel there for a moment of meditation.

Physiological sensors that measure the breathing and heart rate patterns of the users which influence the mini-world the user is creating in the sandbox. Using a VR helmet, you can travel inside your garden for an immersive meditation session.
  • Joan Sol Roo, Renaud Gervais, Jérémy Frey and Martin Hachet (2017). Inner Garden: Connecting Inner States to a Mixed Reality Sandbox for Mindfulness. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17).
  • Renaud Gervais, Joan Sol Roo, Jérémy Frey and Martin Hachet (2016). Introspectibles: Tangible Interaction to Foster Introspection. In CHI 2016 Computing and Mental Health Workshop (CHI '16 Workshop). pdf_link_image
  • Joan Sol Roo, Renaud Gervais and Martin Hachet (2016). Inner Garden: an Augmented Sandbox Designed for Self-Reflection. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction WiP (TEI '16). pdf_link_image