Problem Statement

A project log for NeuroCuddl

Biofeedback based Virtual Reality system for mental wellness

Vignesh RavichandranVignesh Ravichandran 04/22/2018 at 18:050 Comments

This idea was one of necessity more than anything. I found myself often stressed at work and quite short tempered at my home after returning from work.Sleep was scarce and "quality" sleep was nonexistent. My usual stress relief routine had consisted of listening to instrumental music and later playing some abstract games but they too did not have huge impact. It was while playing Subnautica A minimalist atmospheric exploration game set in an alien ocean on a friend's Oculus I finally felt a bit at ease. Despite it being a temporary effect I was able to clear things up in my head. Varun had also been using a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit for his recent back pains and he was also working on making a custom muscle stimulation based on the OpenEMSStim project. Through our discussion we got to realize the immense potential a VR based relaxation system would have through use of biomedical sensing and muscle stimulation. Through some initial literature survey and research we came to understand basic mechanisms of biofeedback for stress and anxiety relief. We came to learn of approaches using respiration based biofeedback for relaxation training and another approach using Audio-Visual stimulation to provide deep relaxation and mindfulness. The audio-visual stimulation devices also known as Mind Machines had used a combinations of high frequency LED blinks along with auditory stimulli to constantly evoke sensory potentials resulting in a kind of resonant effect. It was further found that with low frequency visual stimulation resulted in effective biofeedback mechanisms. Combinations of these two powerful techniques along with muscle stimulation was the  initial goal of NeuroCuddl. 

 Far too often pseudoscientific and vague therapeutic methods marketed to people suffering from mental ailments and there is no reliable metric that comes along with those methods which allow users to gauge their mental state. Zen based relaxation techniques and other eastern approaches to relaxation are hindered by lack of access to a proper trainer to provide feedback in home sessions. Our goal with NeuroCuddl is to create an open platform that can use validated and data backed approaches to aid themselves and be customizable to serve them better.

With a reliable base platform and support for expansion we believe the community can develop “experiences” or adding other sensors(Perhaps a RADAR based non-contact respiration sensor) or actuators(Heating pads mayhap?).