The goal of Simply Breathe was to create a compelling reason to practice controlled breathing exercises. Hundreds of studies and research papers show a landscape of benefits associated with deep breathing exercises.
The value proposition came in the form of an OpenGL game where the user follows the “pace” of the ball with their breath, while balancing the ball in the center of the screen. A reward system recognizes the user’s success with balancing the ball, and serves cerebral animations to deepen relaxation.
We added functions like stress-tracking, reporting and reminders to help boost the user’s success rate. All aspects of the app were calculated — it was essential to strip out all unnecessary stimulus. I even eliminated red from the color palette because of it’s ability to raise blood pressure.
The final product is truly an immersive experience with real results. Here is a screencast from the product.
Recent medical research found that regularly practiced breathing exercises, paired with hand-eye coordination exercises, can have a long-term positive affect on hypertension and stress-induced illness.
I began drawing up ideas on how we could harness the research in a mobile experience. At the core, the exercises needed to be entertaining enough to come back to. Users could also benefit from keeping a log of how well they feel.
Despite Flash’s weakening influence on technology, I was able to use it’s integration with Illustrator, alongside it’s animation capabilities, to produce the blueprints for the breathing exercises. These animations gave our developers specific requirements, from colors and shapes, to the timing of events on the timeline.
I designed the app structure quickly using basic wireframes. I blocked out the major areas to help our team define the requirements and plan for the technologies we’d need to achieve this.
5 iterations later, and I began to bring personality and emotion through a polished UI. Based on prior research, I chose to use a calming color palette, void of reds or high contrast pairings. I also chose a minimal UI to keep stimulus at a minimum–before it was cool ;).
Our group of on-going testers came from several backgrounds, but all suffered in some way from stress induced conditions. The testing was conducted over a month span. Each user would use the app each day, and report their feelings and blood pressure readings (if applicable) using a Google Form. Additionally, I kept a journal over 3 months noting my own observations.
Simply Breathe was developed from core concepts around natural health from within. The process of research, product development discussions, and evaluating all options lead to the success of the app and it’s marketing.