Sensus; breathing as future communication


Interaction design

Speculative design

Non-verbal communication

Embodied communication


Malmö University



In today's situation, the average screen time for children between 5-16 years old is 5 hours and 54minutes.

This has caused social isolation, which can have lifelong consequences on the brain, relationships, and the ability to make sense of the world. Research found that just one hour of screen time can lead to children and adolescents experiencing decreased curiosity and lower emotional stability. 

Imagine a world where a generation has forgotten how to express and interpret/understand other people's emotions. They can no longer pick up the small cues that could signal an emotional state of insecurity, fear, joy, or stress and the reason being that the screen-world we live in today, where life is experienced through screens and emotions is expressed in emojis, have shaped this generation's understanding of the world.

This project was executed as a group work, where we took an activity-centered approach. We used our bodies to experiment and explore impersonal and interpersonal communication using human touch and technology.

The goal was to explore the physicality of breathing, translate it to a set of emotions and simulating it  by using sensors and actuators.


The wearable device enhances inter-human somatic communication through breathing by using sensors and actuators, so to express and interpret/understand their own and/or other people's emotions. 


While looking at our present, we analyze our knowledge, experience and values ​​shaped from our past,and we try to imagine the probable, plausable, possible and impossible future.

To consider the future, this project set out to critique current norms and technology of modern society by using a speculative design process to explore possible futures or alternative presents of breathing as a form of non-verbal communication. By reflecting on current socio-technological trends that have led to children not being able to make sense of the world, this project projects an alternative future set in 2040, when today's 10 years old will be 30 years old


The wearable vest, Sensus, was created to enhance inter-human somatic communication through breathing and is not a product for today, but could be for the future. The vest interprets other peoples breathing into emotions and gives a physical response to the user by constricting, expanding, vibrating, pulsating, or changing temperature. The purpose of Sensus is to highlight the issues of today by making a critical design that provokes an audience to think about what they do not want for the future.


`What if´ people could no longer express and interpret/understand their own and/or other people's emotions.

When working in a Speculative Design process, one takes inspiration from Sci-Fi movies and books, this can help to remove one's commercial constraints from the creative process which allows for hypothetical possibilities. By following this approach, the project aimed to make the audience think about what they want or what they dont want for their future selves.
In this project, inspiration came from the HBO series `Years and Years´, where a teenager is hiding her emotions behind a virtual filter. This scene created the perfect "what if" scenario.


When prototyping, one finds techiques and material to simulate the concepts in the best way possible. In this project a Look & Feel prototype was made.


Embodied sketching is used in early stages to generate ideas, it is a way of understanding and designing bodily experiences.

By applying the method of embodied sketching early in the design process, it enabled us as a group, to explore inter-human somatic communication by using breathing as a material, feeding  into ideation and conceptualisation.

The goal of the performative workshops was to investigate designing interactions that are technology-supported and not artifact-focused, to not steal the user’s attention of the perceived reality but rather enhance the somatic experience.

Somaesthetics is a combination of the two words soma- our subjective self, body, emotion and thinking and aesthetic- our perceptual appreciation of the world. This design project took inspiration from somesthetic concerning the technique of focusing on one’s somatic awareness when breathing. Somatic awareness is not only about body awareness, as in muscles or organs but it also acknowledges that there is no separation between body and mind.

     To support somatic awareness, a technology-supported approach was taken where the focus was on designing an activity instead of technology. To obtain a technology-supported approach the technology is designed as one part of the design goal and the activity, in this case, breathing is supported by the technology. Through digital sketching, where we experiment and sketch by using digital components, we made design choices based on the somatic experiences of technological sensors and actuators.