Sonic CradleJay Vidyarthi’s soothing Sonic Cradle has users suspended horizontally in a sensory-deprivation chamber where they can shape musical sounds using their breathing.


‘Sonic Cradle’ lands TEDActive exhibit spot

March 01, 2012

An SFU grad student project that melds music, meditation and technology landed a rare spot as an exhibit at TEDActive 2012 in Palm Springs, Calif., Feb. 27-March 2.

Jay Vidyarthi’s Sonic Cradle is a device in which users are suspended horizontally with straps attached to their chest in a darkened sensory-deprivation chamber where they can shape musical sounds simply by using their breathing.

“The goal is to mediate stress and anxiety by helping people learn how to meditate and giving them a meditative experience well beyond their actual ability,” says Vidyarthi, a master’s student at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).

Vidyarthi and his supervisor Bernhard Riecke, who heads up SIAT’s new iSpace lab, were invited to display the Sonic Cradle as part of TEDActive’s TechArt exhibition, where conference participants could experience 15-minute meditative sessions in the device.

TEDActive is an offshoot of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) a global set of conferences founded 29 years ago to disseminate “ideas worth spreading”.

The Palm Springs event includes a live simulcast of the TED2012: Full Spectrum conference taking place at the same time in Long Beach, Calif., which features TED’s famous 18-minute talks, workshops, exchanges and exhibits.

Vidyarthi, who developed the unique biofeedback device last spring, is also working with co-supervisor Diane Gromala, director of SFU’s Transforming Pain research group.
The researchers plan to further study how the device physiologically affects people and they may also create a handheld mobile version.

The Sonic Cradle employs a library of sounds including recordings of falling rain, flute and guitar arrangements, chimes and even spoken poetry, to create a unique experience for every user, says Vidyarthi, a musician who previously studied psychophysics and neuroscience.

As for the sensation of using the Sonic Cradle, Vidyarthi says, “when you remove all the distractions, it can feel something like leaving the planet.”

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