inHale (2021)
Telepresence for virtual yoga class

inHale (2021)

Telepresence for virtual yoga class

A key element of the ancient practice of yoga is controlling one’s breath in order to connect the mind and the body. When practiced communally, group breathing is considered an essential part of attaining a sense of unity.

About inHale

When all activities shifted online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for in-person connections were lost. When individuals do yoga in separate places, seeing and hearing one another over a video call does not create this same effect of unity found in in-person yoga. inHale mimics this synchronization of breath by allowing any number of physically distanced people to feel the movement of one another's breath. inHale is a wearable device that enables individuals to feel the expansion of other participants’ diaphragms as they breathe, and to contribute to the collective breath–a phenomenon usually experienced audibly in in-person environments.

inHale is a teletangible device that promotes synchronized breathing by enabling groups of individuals to create their own rhythms, patterns, and self-define their own collective metronome. We propose inHale as a tool that facilitates group synchronization in remote settings through breath.

Technical Details

The inner motor and encoder are controlled by a Raspberry Pi and synchronized by a server-based script.

The inner casing, consisting of four 3D-printed parts and four bearings, houses the motor, fixes the actuating belt onto the device, and allows for the actuating belt to expand and contract smoothly.

The spiral railing was designed to minimize the size of the device. The double-spiral design also enables the direct translation of the motor’s rotational movement to a symmetrical, bilateral linear movement.

The actuating belt, comprising two straps, a buckle, and two unique, bearing-relieved ‘hooks’ that latch onto the spiral railing, creating the dynamic contraction and expansion of the device.

On the network side, the individual devices send back rotational information to a central server, that then synchronizes them and sends back information to control and sync the rotation locally.

While most current haptic wearable research focuses on the recreation of physical sensations in virtual environments (e.g. haptic VR gloves) or embodying virtual feedback through touch (e.g. music rhythm), inHale aims to create interpersonal connections through a physical and essentially human input and output. The device is strapped onto each person’s chest or stomach, depending on use (e.g. singing utilizes ‘belly’ breathing), and buckled into the actuating belt. In the case of a chest-strapped scenario, when one participant inhales, other participants feel a slight expansion of the device, and when a participant exhales, other participants feel the contraction around their diaphragms. The expansion and contraction suggests the wearer to inhale and exhale in synchrony with the movement of the device.