ZenWrap | Destress - Compress
Our innovative ZenWrap was inspired by massage theory and reflexology to improve physical well-being. By incorporating sections of fabric that automatically contract and loosen when blood pressure rises, the shirt promotes better circulation and relaxation in stressful situations. By drawing parallels to the soothing sensation of compression elements, our design aims to reconnect people with their bodies and promote greater body awareness. To support the wearer, we have designed a control ring that allows for discreet adjustment of the compression elements. Inspired by various sources such as CuteCircuit's HugShirt and traditional Japanese abdominal binding techniques, our design combines comfort, functionality and style to help the wearer manage stress and focus.
In the empathy phase, needs were collected from various sources, which led to the creation of an empathy map and personas. It became clear that there is a strong need for time-saving technologies resulting from the relentless pace and high expectations of society. The pressure to constantly maximise productivity leads to a culture of overwork and blurs the boundaries between work and personal life. Social media reinforces feelings of inadequacy by showcasing a curated life and setting unrealistic benchmarks for success. As a result, individuals constantly feel overwhelmed and struggle to reconcile competing demands. Whilst it may be ambitious to tackle societal causes, the focus has been on developing a product to alleviate stress, a symptom of these pressures, and to support those who face unavoidable stressful situations.
However, the pure desire to reduce stress is obviously not enough to achieve something concrete, we had to define what exactly we wanted to achieve. Therefore, we answered the questions "Who?", "What?", "When/Where?" and "Why?". After discussing these aspects further, we arrived at the following problem statement:
"In stressful situations, stress can sometimes get in the way of realising your full potential. We want to develop a wearable solution that helps people to calm down immediately in stressful situations such as presentations, speeches or exams. We want to achieve a lower heart rate and/or breathing rate. And we want to achieve this through a gentle massage."
Ideas ▶ Design ▶ Feeback ▶ Prototypes
We conducted tests with fabric segments to determine optimal pressure points, finding that one contracting point on the arms and two on the stomach, positioned on the sides of the torso, were preferred. We discovered that sturdier fabric yields better consistent contraction compared to stretchy fabric, which may hinder compression and blood flow. The initial physical prototype involved cutting slits in a long-sleeved shirt and attaching fabric strips with flexible hair curlers for pressure testing. Buttons were hand-sewn onto the fabric to allow for adjustable and inconspicuous positioning of the loops.
Implementation of Feeback
We also tested our prototype with students from other groups. After the testing was concluded, one thing was apparent to us. We needed to create
something was more physically changeable to the needs of the user.
◉ Flexible strap positions
◉ More elastic and comfortable fabric
◉ Size adjustable
After receiving feedback from the participants, we tried to improve our prototype to better support users in different situations. In a departure from the original shirt concept, we took inspiration from climbing harnesses to increase adjustability and versatility. A paper prototype helped determine the right size, which led to adjustments such as adding connections between the shoulder straps and reinforcing the edges to prevent fraying. We also introduced arm loops equipped with loops for compression elements. To make it easier to add or remove parts, velcro strips were integrated into the harness design to act as connectors for both the harness itself and the compression strips.
The shoulder straps of the harness have been sewn at an angle to better adapt to the model's body shape. The arm strap consists of two removable pieces of fabric that are connected with Velcro and attached to the harness using the same method. The length of the strap has been adjusted for a better fit and it is planned that the elements will be adjustable in the future to suit different body types. The final prototype will include a ring that is ideally adjustable to fit different finger sizes. The sensor for detecting a high heart rate is to be located in the ring and transmit the data wirelessly to a small processor in the chest area of the belt, which is marked with a symbol seam for orientation.
Design, Materials and Research
Our final prototype is tailored to our current model, but future iterations will need to prioritise adaptability to different body types and requirements. Research into an additional leg strap promises improved functionality. Mechanisms for automatic operation, including data transmission for blood pressure monitoring and automatic retraction of the compression band, require further research and development. The material also needs to be improved to increase elasticity and minimise visibility under clothing. In addition, research into the application of Pavlovian conditioning theory in conjunction with the use of the Zen Wrap could provide interesting insights. Consistent use of the product in stressful situations could lead to automatic stress reduction responses that could override negative associations with stress-inducing events over time.