I am thinking about designing a mobile application that would guide the user through a slow breathing technique. Typically, inhalation and exhalation would have a fixed duration of a few seconds each. Graphical and audio feedback should provide clear indications of when to inhale, when to exhale, and how to adapt the pace to meet both end-points (empty or full lungs) at the right time.
Found examples of such applications mostly display a vertical bar filling at constant speed from bottom to top during inhalation, and emptying from top to bottom during exhalation. Here are a few downsides to this approach, apart from the absence of sound:
- The constant speed of the filling and unfilling does not fit the way we breathe: lungs fill quickly at the beginning and slow down when approaching the end-point (full lungs). This can be compared to car breaking, when strong force is applied on the pedal initially and gradually released to adjust to the stopping point.
- A thin, vertical bar is not adapted to minimalistic UI design: the screen space should be used as much as possible.
Presence of both graphical and audio feedback:
- providing a compelling experience when using both,
- relying on the graphical interface when in a noisy environment, such as public transportation, and allow for hearing-impaired users,
- enabling the user to practice while closing the eyes, and allow for visually-impaired users.
The user should also be able to quickly adapt his/her breathing pace, in order to avoid taking too much air too quickly (resulting in an almost-apnea during the last phase of intake), or too few air (resulting in a rushed end-phase of air intake). The above vertical-bar solution proves to be subpar in this area (I realized it as soon as I tried it).
Finally, the aeshetics should have an organic feel to them. For example, the process could be represented as a growing and shrinking circle, moving at an "organic" pace.
What graphical and audio feedback types and techniques do you think would suit this breathing motion?