Driving can occupy a considerable part of our daily lives and is often associated with high levels of stress. Motivated by the effectiveness of controlled breathing, this work investigates the potential use of breathing interventions while driving to help manage stress. In particular, we implemented a closed-loop system that monitores the breathing rate of drivers in real-time and deliveres either a conscious or an unconscious personalized acoustic breathing guide whenever needed. This project aims to support a more relaxed driving experience, which can, for instance, help to calm down after a stressful day at work. Below is a description of each breathing guide including an audio sample.
The goal of this intervention is to consciously guide the user’s breathing rate through an easily perceptible auditory signal. In particular, the system uses two different harmonic chords to guide through the inhalation and exhalation of the breathing pattern. The volume of an F-major harmonic chord modulates with the shape of a Gaussian function in the inhalation period, and a C-major harmonic chord follows in the exhalation period. To introduce users to this conscious intervention, a explanatory voice sample is played before usage. Below is a 30 second example of the conscious intervention sound with a frequency of 8 breaths per minute.
The goal of this intervention is to unconsciously support calmness and focus via subtle volume changes of background white noise. To minimize the cognitive load of the user, this intervention is not explained before usage. By the activation of the intervention, the volume of the background noise is periodically modulated between 30\% and 100\% of its volume with a Sigmoid function. Below is a 30 second example of the unconscious intervention sound with a frequency of 8 breaths per minute.