This device visualizes breathing data using soap bubbles

As a study into the quantified self, this Maker duo sought out to raise awareness around subconscious breathing habits.

Philips Design Labs recently commissioned the help of two Dutch design students as part of the company’s exploration into the quantified self movement. Makers Amy Whittle and Willem Kempers developed a project that focused on the physiological act of respiration required to sustain life. Their goal was to raise awareness around our subconscious breathing habits by making data more accessible and easier to understand.


Ethereal breathing is something most of us probably rarely think about. However, it is something that can be controlled, which certainly comes in handy when trying effectively manage stress and anxiety.

“As anyone can testify, taking a deep breath before a nerve-racking experience can calm that anxiety,” the Makers explains, “But to what further extent can controlled breathing benefit the human body?”

To accomplish this feat, the duo devised a suspended installation that represented a pair of lungs and interacted with measured breathing data. Temperature sensors were placed inside their noses, and real-time information was acquired as they engaged in various daily activities, such as cooking and meditating.


The sensors were able to detect the fluctuation in temperature between the air that was being inhaled and exhaled. This data was then relayed to a fan that was tasked with blowing air into a giant soap bubble. Why a bubble, you ask? Similar to the human lungs, they are capable of expanding and contracting, thereby allowing the patterns to be easily visualized. The bubbles were highlighted using integrated LEDs, while the machine itself was controlled by an Atmel based Arduino running the Processing programming language, along with an Adafruit Motor Shield and a few stepper motors.

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