In the beginning of technological evolution, machines were created merely for satisfying practical needs of humans. Throughout long-term interaction, certain machines have developed a secondary meaning for their existence; some have become a source of anxiety and some have become a source of comfort. During specific times, the frequency of interaction with these machines reach a peak and the intention of the user becomes different than utilizing them for their practical functions. These time frames are called liminal moments during which the user subconsciously and perpetually utilizes the machine with the anticipation of either reinforcing its comfort effect or reversing its anxiety effect to reach a calm state of mind. This expectation exists only because the user is conditioned to find relief throughout the interaction. As humans interact with these “Pavlovian Comfort Machines”, they could potentially develop a compulsive behavior around them. Throughout the course of co-evolution of humans and machines, Pavlovian Comfort Machines have evolved into Liminoids; a line of home devices that monitor and manage the level of anxiety of their users during liminal moments. The line is a wireless biosensor network comprised of a wearable accessory, a mini fridge and a wall clock. Liminoid orbis is a wearable accessory that detects the level of anxiety of the user and dictates when the rest of the network will manifest liminal functions. When they are triggered, Liminoid frigus(the mini fridge) and Liminoid temporis (the wall clock) will temporarily cease performing their original, practical functions and comfort their users through liminal functions that involve audio-visual and tactile cues. In this way, Liminoids will take the co-evolution of humans and machines further, creating a way for humans to develop a higher level of awareness of their psychological states and the relationship of these to their compulsive use of Pavlovian comfort machines.
Analogous to co-evolution in nature,users could develop compulsive and potentially destructive behavior through frequent and long-term interaction with Pavlovian Comfort Machines. Makers of this family technology holds the potential to shift this process by redesigning it.If designed with the deeper psychological tendencies of the user in mind, Pavlovian Comfort Machines programmed to provide relief to users performing a function other than their utilitarian functions, could truly satisfy a variety of practical and psychological needs as well as help the user control compulsive behavior.
Liminoid orbis contains a GSR (galvanic skin response) sensor and an accelerometer. With the combination of these three sensors, Liminoid orbis can detect the fluctuations of the user’s anxiety levels. It contains an Arduino mini microprocessor to make sense of the data and an XBEE radio to transmit this information to the rest of the network. Liminoid temporis contains a Chronodot Realtime Clock, an Arduino FIO microprocessor to run this clock and an XBEE radio that receives anxiety data from Liminoid orbis. The seconds, minutes and hours are fed back to the user using diffused warm white LEDs. When the anxiety levels are high the second of Liminoid temporis starts fading in and out, instead of blinking every second. This gives the user the illusion of time moving slowly, thus their breathing and heartbeat adjusts to the clock as they follow seconds go in and out. They will stop constantly looking at the clock and stressing about time. Liminoid frigus contains an Adafruit Wave Shield, Arduino FIO microprocessor to run the sound system and an XBEE radio that receives anxiety data from Liminoid orbis. When the anxiety levels are high and the user is reaching into the refrigerator Liminoid frigus locks up its door so the user cannot go into the refrigerator. Right after this it starts emitting alpha binaural sound beats and synchronized light pulses to calm the user down. As the user stands in front of the refrigerator they he/she would slowly relax and won’t indulge into stress eating. The aim of Liminoids is to create long-term behavioral change and anxiety reduction in the user’s life. Throughout interaction with these machines the user will slowly stop stress eating and his/her chronophobia like symptoms will gradually disappear.
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