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Attending to inner self: Designing and unfolding breath-based VR experiences through micro-phenomenology

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This thesis contributes to human-computer interaction (HCI) research with a focus on the design of virtual reality (VR) applications that support and elicit the experience of breath awareness. Within HCI, advocating for technology-supported well-being has resulted in a large body of interactive systems informed by the quantified self paradigm. While these technologies elicit positive health outcomes, they also sometimes reduce access to a greater range of experiences that promote self-regulation and well-being. A growing interest in HCI is moving beyond the quantified self to designing technologies ``as experiences'' based upon embodied and first-person reflective practices. In this research, we are specifically interested in the experiences that arise through technologies that elicit breath awareness. However, in reviewing prior HCI research in designing for breath awareness, we have found that the differing epistemological commitments and theoretical frameworks determine very different sets of systems’ values, expectations and methods. This is an under-explored design space within HCI that necessitates a deeper understanding of disambiguation of how epistemological commitments shape not only our systems, but our experiences and how we consider methodologies that support the rich and meaningful explication of those experiences. While we contribute primarily to HCI, our work is positioned in the broader intersection of art, science, and technology. We structure our research around two main foci. First focus is on the design and evaluation of VR applications built upon first-person practices of eliciting breath awareness. We engage in disambiguating theoretical underpinnings of the systems that perceptually extend breath awareness to understand how epistemological commitments of different theoretical frameworks inform system design to support breath awareness. Then, we present the iterative process of design and evaluation of two breath-based VR systems: Pulse Breath Water and Respire. Second focus is on methodological strategies that clarify not only fine-grained descriptions of the experience but its very own structure. We have applied micro-phenomenology in HCI to design and evaluate two immersive VR systems for eliciting breath awareness. We contribute to understanding how micro-phenomenology can be used in the context of VR systems for articulating the nuances, complexity, and diversity of a user's experience beyond surface descriptions.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Pasquier, Philippe
Thesis advisor: Schiphorst, Thecla
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etd21014.pdf 23.87 MB

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