TUNE - Expressive musical brooch to cope with Chronic Pain

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Abstract

To cope with Musculoskeletal Chronic Pain, physiotherapists recommend people to focus on healthy part of the body such as breathing, instead of the painful part of the body. Tune is an expressive digital brooch to cope with Chronic Pain. It helps people in building awareness on breathing and posture with personalized real time sound feedback.

Today, people living with Chronic Pain collect data about their body to monitor their health. Existing tracking experience reminds people of their chronic illness and often conveys an idea of performance. Yet, people don’t always recognize themselves in the athletic body and don’t always want to be reminded about their illness. Breathing and posture data could instead be transformed into expressive music to provide a beneficial and playful experience.

This project challenges existing tracking and Chronic Pain experiences by putting illness in the background and by bringing out people’s personality into an expressive healthcare product.

Inspiration and Method

This project focused on designing for people’s daily experience in living with a chronic illness. I connected with physiotherapists at Umeå University who provided me with research insights on Chronic Pain. I also reached out to Umeå Rheumatism Organization and to people living with Musculoskeletal Chronic Pain.

The research phase led to defining the experience as an expressive instrument because the designed experience supports people in improving skills, self-expressing and communicating with others.

Ideas about self-management practices, awareness and community support were generated and then explored further with people from Umeå Rheumatism Organization. Throughout the design process, experts gave feedback on Body Awareness and daily life Chronic Pain coping strategies.

The idea of enhancing Body Awareness was explored through sound and form sketching. This exploration led to a different tracking experience: a simple strategy to focus on the body with real time useful and delightful sound feedback.

Result

Tune is an expressive digital brooch to cope with Chronic Pain. It is one simple strategy for people to be aware of breathing and posture with personalized real time sound feedback. Tune is recommended by physiotherapists and available at the pharmacy as a simple daily routine to focus on healthy aspects of the body, such as breathing, instead of pain.

Body calibration
To get started, the brooch calibrates to its owner breathing and/or posture space. Instead of being right or wrong, tracking technology calibrates to one’s own body.

Music exploration
People trigger in real time an ambient music by expanding into their comfort breathing position; and then trigger an instrumental music by breathing to their target position. New music is fed into the device everyday to motivate people to keep up with their daily routine.

Expressiveness
Tune transforms tracked data into musical expression from the body instead of providing performance and pain charts.