Tuesday, November 3, 2009

breathing together through technology

The idea of networked physicality is brilliant to me and should in my view soon be adopted and made widespread in some way by a large corporations. It will connect us more holistically and draw us away more from seeing ourselves as mostly mental beings, communicating through words that stem from disembodied thoughts.

An early example of technology that physically connects us is devised by Jessica Floeh. Her 'exChange' system lets two people wear each other's breath in a very intimately coupled way. Stretch sensors in a belt measure one's chest circumference, and directly connect this data to the size of an expandable object worn on the belt of another person. This way, you are directly connected to the breath of another person.

Such intimate technological connections can become of profound meaning, and not only connect but also guide us on an implicit level. Studies have shown that subtle cues and dynamics in our environment can directly influence our own behavior. For example, we start to move more slowly if we are exposed to things we relate to 'oldness'. I am convinced that the more we connect ourselves physically to other living beings - either organic or technological -, we will more and more start to guide and follow each other, and this will in the end result more and more quickly to our activities being optimized through these instant and broad communication loops. We will find our own silence amidst all this data if only we explore in an experiential and embodied way, and stay aware of what works for us.

Breath to me is an excellent starting point, because it is very easy to ignore and overlook in our often turbulent daily lives. But breath is the fundament of all life, connected to every of your actions. The quality of your breath is the quality of your life, you might say. Breath is even equated with the concept of soul by Christians, given to us on birth by God. Breath can be said to be divine inspiration, and the basis for all true creativity. By controlling one's breath, making it calm, deep and slow, we learn to come in tune with our own body and through that with the whole that intends to be creative through our own body. I think it is not a view too grand to feel that a true awakening can be catalyzed by innovations like these, if they are developed further and spread amongst people.

Wearable products have a crucial role here in that they can bridge the gap of socio-cultural acceptance, because they allow for intimate connections without being obtrusive. On the other hand, more conventional plastic-encased electronic products have the advantage of being cheap, small, and multifunctional. So these industries need to come together, their knowledge needs to fuse and make for emergent technologies that can make these innovations happen. And meanwhile, people need to become more open to products that revolve more and more around quality of interaction and unitasking instead of mindless multitasking and abstract interactions. People need to learn to be happy with little, and able to leave technologies at home, seeing when it is the right time to connect to certain technologies and at the same time disconnect from other technological connections. This will be a slow process, but I definitely see this occuring more and more, and an exciting future awaits us.

No comments: