THE BALANCE METER
The first wearable comes from the experience at the basis of physical reality. A user would step onto this platform to get instant feedback on their level of balance and rootedness in life. How does it feel to be rooted? How is your body shifting your weight as you move everyday? Are you heavy or light in your steps?
What is your body orientation like when you stand? Slouch? Walk?
When do you check in with yourself?
What are your feet telling you?
The weight of your feet augment the physical.
Each step is transformed into sounds.
Every step is an embodiment of your unique self.
Using various rapid prototying techniques, I began with an iterative hardware construction process to test out the electronics in combination with the concept. Finding one’s balance relies on a mixture of equilibrium, pressure and the sense of ease in feedback. Using force/pressure sensors in combination with audio software, I created various experiments that I tested out with different users, trying to understand how they understood their own balance and how standing on such a device would help to augment their perception towards it.
The first prototype was tested using foam pads and force sensors placed near the ball and heel of the foot. To get the readings correct, I worked on converting the incoming signals as MIDI controls through Ableton and Arduino. Depending on how much weight is forced onto the front or back area of the foot, the readings fluctuate as the sounds change from chaotic sounding tones to sine and single tones.
During the second phase, I constructed a wooden box to house the electrical components. I wanted the product prototype to have a modern, natural feel – a product that feels effortless to use but invokes a sense of natural elements as if connecting to the earth.
As a design iteration, I chose to stick with the stationary housing because porting it to 2 shoes would require too many wires and a clunky setup. This allowed me to design the product to fit inside a user’s home or office, a balance meter that can be used upon waking, after a long day or even in the office as a sound bath meditative break.