My Bachelor Thesis «I want to feel different. I want to feel like a machine.» and the practical part «Inemuri» is a discourse on the idea of the cyborg. Through my theoretical analysis of cyborgs, I found out that we are all already cyborgs with our sanguine behavior against smart devices.
In the practical part, I analyzed the effect of being a cyborg in case of Work-Life-Balance and the related pressure to perform, which, due to my findings, inevitably affects our sleeping behavior in a negative way.
To find a solution for such a Cyborg problem, I developed a Cyborg proposal. The proposal is in scale between the phenomena of sleep and is focused on the day sleep in the western world of work. The proposal makes use of the Japanese tradition of Inemuri, which has a completely different perspective on the day sleep of the hard-working individual, in conjunction with technology attached to the human body. The Inemuri is not only a healthy but also a performance-enhancing practice for existing in the present meritocracy. The finale and exhibited prototype of my proposal is a Coat, which makes it possible to sleep at different locations. The Shape of the coat makes it easy to fall in sleep in public. The integrated neck cushion supports the sleep in a horizontal and sitting position. The sleeping process will be accelerated with build in technologies, like „binauralem Sounds“ for a getting tired very fast. At the end a light clock interrupts the sleep after 30 minutes for a soft awakening.
The word cyborg is composed of the term "cybernetic organism" and got invented by two NASA scientists Manfred E. Clynes (physicist and psychologist) and Nathan S. Kline (engineer and computer scientist) with their publication "Cyborgs and Space" in 1960. In the publication, Clynes and Kline present a cyborg concept that aims to adapt to the fragile biological human body to live in space for a long time.This idea was first tested on a mouse where the mouse body was expanded with technology (see image). The result is a cybernetic organism, a schema of a mechanistic-functional body, which is well equipped for its tasks in space through its adaptability.
The Empathize Stage is about gaining empathy and understanding of the problem that should be solved.
To find a topic in the practical part of my bachelor thesis, I examined various implants and wearables that complete or extend the human body. I investigated medical implants, such as pacemakers, medical instruments but also NFC implants, which can be implanted in the body.
The study opened up the thematic fields of beauty, health, and sports, which was included in most of the reviewed products. To take a closer look at these themes, I have conducted interviews with doctors, athletes, and students.
The findings of the interviews have shown that beauty, health, and sport have the common factor of being connected to sleep. Furthermore, work and sleeping patterns in relation to everyday stress became the subject of all surveys. In an article by Klaus Vyhnalek titled "The City of the Future - Conversation with Futurologist Matthias Horx", it is predicted that in 2050, 70% of all humans live in cities. This influences our living situation: we live in less space together, which ultimately affects our sleep behavior in terms of noise and other peoples sleeping rhythms.
Moreover, the work-life balance also affects our sleep resulting from pressure to perform and raising funds to live in the city.
It is proven that our sleeping behavior is already influenced by circumstantial living situations by "The Federal Office of Public Health", which shows in a representative survey that we sleep about 40 minutes less today than we did 30 years ago.
This circumstance is a socially relevant topic, which has sparked my interest to focus in particular on the subject of "The phenomenon of sleep".
In order to gain a more definite understanding of the phenomenon of sleep, I collected everything about sleep in a mind map. The following sub-topics emerged:
Signs of Sleep
Experience Journey Meditation
In the subcategory "Sleep Promotion" I examined the topic "meditation". I signed up for a basic meditation course. The meditation course included a guided meditation with ten participants and a trainer. The basic course took place once a week and lasted 45 minutes each.
Already after the first meditation session, I felt a deep relaxation and satisfaction of myself, which continued over the following weeks after each session and beyond.
The Brain Machine
Furthermore, in the field of "Sleep Promotion", I investigated "The Brain Machine" by Mitch Altman. The Brain Machine consists of glasses with an eye-mounted LED on each lens and an audio output. Meanwhile, Binaural Beats played on the audio output and LEDs flicker at a certain frequency, the individual using this device may fall into a controlled meditation state.
For example: "4-8 Hz" creates light sleep, vivid imagination, spiritual/transformational experiences, behavioral and attitudinal changes, and enhanced creativity or "8-10 Hz" creates the ability to Super-learning of new information, and excellent memorizing abilities.
In the subcategory "Dreams" examined the topic "Dream Diary". Sleep and relaxation are for our body as essential as for the brain. Equally important to the human psyche is dreaming. Everybody usually dreams several times a night, even if one can not always remember afterward. The memory of your dreams is important for the processing of unconscious fears, longings, and strains. A Dream Diary is a written record of dreams. Important for recording dreams are the first five to ten minutes after waking up because dreams are quickly forgotten. To test how effective a dream diary is, I asked two subjects to keep a dream diary for over a month.
Interviews with the Dream Diary Probands
After the Dream Diaries, an Interview with the Participants was conducted, which generated new insights into the subject of dreaming.
When falling asleep, the body passes through several sleeping phases: the first sleeping stage is a phase where awakening with tiny noises takes place easily. The second sleeping phase, makes muscles relaxed and the brain shows a low cerebral frequency but it is still easy to awakening a sleeping person. This sleeping phase fills half of the sleep cycle. The third sleeping stage is a deep sleeping phase where the body is relaxed and it is more difficult to awakening a sleeping person. This stage is the most relaxing component of the sleeping cycle. The fourth sleeping phase is a dreaming phase also called the "REM phase," which is characteristic for the strong eye movement which takes place at this phase.
Moreover, waking up in a light sleeping phase is much more comfortable than in a deep sleep phase. This is also a reason why Power-napping having this refreshing effect on the body. Deep sleeping phases takes place after sleeping a long time approximately longer than 30 min.
To evaluate sleep in its stages, changes in the electrical DC resistance of the skin can be measured.
However, in the subcategory "Sleep Phases," "REM Phase" and "Sleep Tracking" I looked at the subjects with an experiment with a "Light Clock." The experiment was about using light instead of sound to wake me up in the morning. This clock takes benefit of the reality that individuals are simple to wake up in light sleeping phases. This implies that the waking method takes longer but feels more natural and is not influenced by the side effects of deep sleep disruption and drowsiness.
Why we sleep has a psychic, regenerative and calibrating purpose. Mental experiences of waking stages are processed in dreams, organized and unimportant information gets erased. Regenerative in the way that organs can recover. Calibrated in the sense of the body system rhythms that mix during the day is reset to baseline. Sleep is, therefore, even if it is brief, a great way to process information and to provide the body with a brief period of regeneration.
In the fields of "Sleep Practices" and "Sleep Environment", I investigated "Power Naping". Sleep practices may be expressed in how to interact with the sleeping environment, but some practices are reflected in sleeping behavior. An example of this would be polyphasic sleep in which you totally change your sleep rhythm and duration of sleep.
Power-nap is another much healthier practice. During the day, the concentration reduces. It's difficult to focus on a job or study. What helps is a brief day's sleep, also called Power Nap. Studies have shown that taking a power nap increases efficiency by up to 35%, says sleep expert Jürgen Zulley (professor of science at the University of Regensburg). Power Nap is not only performance-enhancing, but it is also very healthy and immune system-strengthening.
At the Define stage, speculation on possible futures and the design of an alternative present have been created with insights and research from an emphasize stage. Speculation on the future generates future scenarios that critically question the concept of development, implementation, and use of new technologies and their wider social implications. These particular methods create a powerful narrative potential to generate ideas and proposals to solve problems in a speculative future and to criticize technological development and modern society.
I found, through research and experiments that sleeping is essential to life! However, humans are trying to dominate, sleep more efficiently in the belive of being more effective in life. In our hyper-fast-moving world, there is a seduction to domesticate human essential needs for human performance. Such seduction often indulges in engineering to strengthen themselves. This form of human behavior aims for a significantly altered human, which can be described as post-humanism.
The underlying motivation for an altered human is the core belief that the human species in its present form does not mark the culmination of our creation, but rather the beginning.
Post-humanism is an idea out of the movement called Transhumanism, which get defined as "the intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by using technology to eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities" (Nick Bostrum, 1999)
In fact, it is important to note that the idea of a new type of human being does not sound enticing to everyone. Unfortunately, it didn't even sound enticing to my university! But in conclusion, it is to say, either you are a person who is for or against the idea of post-humanism, you will probably not have the chance to escape from it.
Based on this, there are two different ways to deal with such a situation, I could go deeper and try to find the sociological aspects why humans want to make themselves perform better all the time, which would go beyond the scope. Or, I could create an object that would make it possible for post-humans to survive in such a performance-driven society. I decided on the last one!
At the stage of the ideation, I have taken all the insights and research results together to create a speculative proposal for sleep in the future society. In order to create a speculative solution, I iterated many times in the ideation phase and prototyping phase at the same time.
Prototyping thoughts and designing artifacts in low fidelity and high fidelity enables a creative approach to create speculative solutions for post-humans to survive in an environment guided by success and a modern community that is separated from physically daily patterns. The need for sleep and labor, whenever required, was important in this venture.
The prototype was dealing with the problem of falling asleep when needed in difficult circumstances stances.
The prototype consists of a pair of goggles with built-in LEDs, which are oscillating. Additionally, headphones are playing "Binaural Beats". Binaural beats are an auditory illusion that is heard when both ears detect a slightly different tone. Such an illusion does not take place in the ear but the cortex. It is assumed that this sound is stimulating in the brain stem of the upper olive grove where the center for spatial hearing is located. To perceive a beat to the carrier frequencies must be below 1500 Hz. The difference between the Frequencies for the left and right ear must be greater than 30 Hz, otherwise, two different tones will be heard.
This prototype should have a meditative state, which increases the willingness to sleep. This allows a user to use the prototype to accelerate the process of falling asleep, for example, to have a Power-Nap.
However, the oscillating LED's had a strong effect on feeling more restless than sleepy, but the binaural beats worked excellently and got reported as very relaxing, almost meditative. For this reason, the flashing LED's got removed and the binaural beats got marked as a potential feature.
With the second prototype I dealt with the topic of waking up. This consists of a cushion, an integrated alarm clock and special luminous materials that are incorporated into the cushion. The user should be awakened by light, no matter in which position he lies on the cushion. As assumed, the light alarm clock worked in the cushion just as well as a conventional light alarm clock. The downside of the light cushion is that the material has to be very flexible and, the used electronics have gone through multiple break downs, due to inflexibility.
With the third prototype I dealt with the topic of dreaming. The prototype consists of a book, which can be deposited next to the bed and is therefore easily accessible. In this book there is a recording device that starts recording by pressing a button on the cover of the book. This makes it possible to record a dream in seconds. After that, if the book is opened, the dreams recorded will be played. It helps you to listen to morning recordings in the evening or during the day.
This device is a digital dream diary, a good way to handle dreams. Documenting dreams with a recorder was perceived by the participants as substantially more effective than the paper and pen records. Only listening to one's own voice was regarded as uncomfortable.
This prototype was about privacy, in order to sleep, we need a specific amount of safety and privacy But the problem is, how to build a wearable which creates privacy and safety? For this purpose, I looked at different sleeping assets that could be easily transported. I was inspired by the assets that were created to sleep in airplanes or assist that supporting humans in sitting postures.
In this phase of the project, I gathered all the learnings from prototyping together to create the final idea for a sleeping asset of a post-human.
For the development of the final prototype, which is going to be a speculative solution to the need for efficient sleeping of post-humans, I began with a form study to satisfy form and function, but also aesthetic with a touch of futurism. Based on the features that have been discovered in the prototyping stage, I created some pen and paper sketches.
Once I found the right form of the Sleeping Wearable, I made a study of the materials. Different materials react differently to the exchange of nose and oxygen. Many materials are therefore very suitable for covering the human body, and some are worse. While I was checking some of the fabrics, I found a fabric that is usually used for stage curtains in theaters. This fabric is a strong absorber of light and noise.
These are two properties that are great for creating a little place of privacy. The downside of this fabric was is it has a problem in terms of oxygen exchange. For this purpose, I inserted air fans into the fabrics that facilitated a continuous exchange of oxygen from outside into the sleeping wearable.
The neck cushion which lets the sleeping person sleep in a sitting position was a special challenge. I could not find a solution to this in the prototyping phase and I was almost ready to give it up. But then I had a meeting with the Industrial Designer (René Odermatt, Studio Porto) and he recommended a 3D body scan to create the perfect 3D neck model of a neck cushion. This technique quickly resulted in a good result and I discovered a form that perfectly supports the human body in a sitting position to protect the neck in order to avoid pain in the neck.
The sleeping device has different features that need to be controlled with an interface by the user. The first feature is a dream diary, an audio recorder. The second feature is a timer for the duration of binaural sounds to help fall into sleep and a light clock to waking the user up after a set time. Finally, I decided to use conducting fabrics and touch sensors integrated into the neck cushion to control the features.
Every year at the Zurich University of the Art, all students of the Bachelor's and Master's degrees present their thesis and designs that they have produced within the context of their studies. Every student gets an exhibition space, where the thesis and the designs getting exhibited. I showed two pieces, the first one was my sleeping wearable on a mannequin and my Bachelor dissertation on the side, and the second one was a reduced version of my sleeping wearable which visitors could actually use at the show to encounter a hypothetical post-human solution. This project was eventually titled Inemuri at the exhibition which I considered appropriate because this kind of sleeping practice combined with work-life balance is already practiced in Japan and they call it is called inemuri.