About me

Final project

Weekly projects



Digital Mala - A wrist wearable device for supporting mindfulness training and spiritual practice.


The idea behind this device is that it helps to support and develop mindfulness training over a period of time. A convenient and useful digital counting aid to record and reflect our progress in mindfulness in everyday life, (or if you’re a practising buddhist, it will enable you to keep track of your accumulations for example).

We live in challenging times amidst speed, busyness and aggression. Depression, stress and anxiety are on the increase and many doctors are recommending mindfulness training as an antidote to anxiety, stress and depression. Problem is, it's not that easy to be mindful for even just some of the time - try being mindful, present and aware for just a few minutes, it is more than likely that distractions of all kind will arise in the mind to take you away from the present moment! However, as the great spiritual masters tell us, everything is just practice and its possible for anyone to develop mindfulness and awareness which in turn is very good for our mental and emotional health and well-being.
There is a Tibetan Buddhist saying that its a long walk to the meditation cushion. However, everyday, there are thousands of moments that offer countless opportunities to practise mindfulness.

Basic Function:

• A wearable device that is able to count and record moments or minutes of mindfulness throughout a day. Mindfulness moments (MM's) to be counted as single counts on a button, and / or, by pressing a start and stop point in time, counting minutes.

• A secondary button counter that will automaticall track the number of prostrations (a foundational Buddhist yoga practice) or Yoga postures (ie 'Sun Salutations’). The device allows the practitioner to be fully present in the practice or movement itself and not be distracted by the task of counting. 

• When the wearer is ready to see how their mindfulness training is progressing, they will be able to connect the device to a PC to view their accomplishment in a graphic display. 

Possible future development (or stretch goal)

A secondary device (at home) which,
either by means of light or the motion of  a prayer wheel reflects back to the wearer, their mindfulness progress in a visual way, so as to act as a positive incentive to practice more. Perhaps the greater the mindfulness, the brighter the light or rotations of the prayer wheel. I would like this to be powered by solar energy gathered during the day on a window sill. When the primary device (the wrist wearable) is connected to the secondary device, it could acts as a switch. If the accomplishment falls within stated integer values, then the light shines at a stated brightness; or the prayer wheel rotates at a stated speed for a stated duration.

first concept sketch


counting methods

How the weekly assignments informed my final project

During Embedded Programming (Week 7), the assignment was to program the board (made in Electronic Design - Week 6). As my final project involved digitally counting and recording 'moments of mindfulness’ this gave me an insight into how this could be achieved, as shown in the code below:

code blink

The assignment in Moulding and Casting (Week 9), would prove to be a significant contribution towards the manufacturing process for my final project.

The main material for the digital mala would need to be: 

safe to wear on the skin;
non-corrosive (for the embedded electronics). 

For these reasons, silicon rubber was chosen as a likely material, (which meant I could begin to visualise how the device might look and behave).

However, the silicone Rubber used in week 9 was quite difficult to work with (see pic below); I would seek to find a product that would be less viscous, and I would need to refine my casting method.


I had wanted to use Input Device (Week 10) to make a useful contribution towards my final project.

For my wrist wearable digital mala, I learnt that the use a phototransistor could be very useful. Using the basic principle that when the phototransistor does not receive light, I could programme it to count. This could provide a semi-automatic counting method whilst the practitioner practices sun salutations or prostrations. That is, when the body lies flat to the ground, there is an opportunity for the wrist wearable (with embedded phototransistor) to make contact with the floor, blocking most of the light, hence counting one. As this action is repeated, the count accumulates automatically and effortlessly so that the practitioner is hinder-free of the task of counting. When a set target is reached, the device could alert the wearer via haptic feedback (vibration).

However, in actuality, it was noted that the phototranistor was very sensitive to any changes to the ambient light in the room. This made it more difficult to establish a reliable light-to-darkness change-range for my particular device. When I repeated the test at home, the phototransistor was even more sensitive to ambient light, as there was a flood of light from a near window. I experimented with pushing blutack around the PT to block ambient light (simulating an opaque housing for the phototransistor). Once the body of the PT was encased in this way, the results were much more stable and repeatable. However, this first hand experiment urged me to consider other, more reliable solutions. The image below, show the PT working in different light settings (and encased in blu tack).


During Output Device (Week 10), I was able see how I may be able to program and power a motor. In relation to my stretch goal project (the secondary device), this technology could provide the basis for creating a very light prayer wheel, although I would want to power with photo-voltaic (solar power).

prayer and motor

During assignments in both CAD and Composites Week 3 and 12, there were opportunities to create 3D files (using Solidworks) to mill on the shopbot milling machine (see image below - core for bath rest composite). This experience would help me create the mould for my silicone rubber wearable.


Interface and Application Programming Week (14), informed a significant part of my final project.

This week provided an opportunity to bring the electronics and programming to life. In terms of my digital mala wearable, this is where, potentially, the user would be able to see their mindfulness accomplishment communicated in a simple graphic display on a computer screen.

As my wearable was counting and recording data, without the use of an LCD on the wearable itself, it would require a means to make sense of the data and communicate effectively to the user. This week’s assignment helped me to understand how I could achieve this (with much support from my tutors, as always). During this week I was able to establish both the basis of the apps function and the feel of the graphics.

As mindfulness is connected with awareness, spaciousness, presence and clarity, there is no better metaphor than an open blue sky. I decided to use a sky blue background, and to use a timeline divided into a number of small time intervals (for quick testing). However many times the button would be pressed in interval (that data would be translated into a visual representation of moments of mindfulness on screen; whilst also showing the progress of one's mind training over a number of intervals (representing a month for example).

Initial sketch illustrating the concept; app simulating recorded counts from the electronics to the PC:

sketch and app


For more infomration on my final project, go to FINAL PROJECT here