More and more digital devices designed to support meditation are appearing on the market. But how can interfaces and interactions enhance the practice of meditation? To explore this question, the EPFL+ECAL Lab joined forces with the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at EPFL in order to create a multisensorial experience with their haptic device.

Focusing on UX design, this project takes individual needs and characteristics of practitioners into account in order to offer a multimodal meditation experience for an audience ranging from novices to experts.

The Meditation Robotics project aims to enhance meditation practice through multimodal sensorial support. But to what extent can a user interact with an interface during a meditative experience?

Reaching a state of meditation is related to several factors, including the user’s level of practice, emotional state, stress, anxiety, individual response to specific stimuli, as well as cultural and social background.

It is therefore crucial to design, adapt, and personalise the parameters not only to each user, but also to their own specific mind set when involved in meditation.

In this context, the most suitable medium and type of interface according to the meditation expertise of the user, as well as other factors such as age or technological ease, needed to be specified.

As physical inputs reinforce the impact of guided meditation, the haptic device, which is placed under the feet, uses mechanical pixels to control rhythm, pressure and temperature. 

This generates a sensation similar to the feeling of waves underfoot on a beach. However, to be accurate enough without disturbing the meditation phase, should the approach be pragmatic or hedonic? The answer to this question is complex and largely depends on the individual user.

The EPFL+ECAL Lab developed a unique interface with an original approach that allows each practitioner to adapt the parameters to their own sensitivity along 3 scenarios of use.

The project ran in two phases. First, the EPFL+ECAL Lab developed and tested several user scenarios with various fidelities of user interface prototypes, both digital and analogue. During the second phase, we developed a smartphone application based on our first learnings, combining pragmatic and hedonic scenarios.

User evaluations through time show significant positive results, generating reliable research knowledge in terms of adoption as well as UX and UI design guidelines for meditation interfaces.

Alongside this academic success, the company developing the device plan also to integrate the application into the final product.


MAS in Design Research for Digital Innovation
Yoann Douillet

Art Direction & Project Management
Romain Collaud

Dr. Cédric Duchêne 

Nicolas Henchoz

Photography Credits
Calypso Mahieu / EPFL+ECAL Lab


Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, EPFL