A Social Robot for Anxiety Reduction via Deep Breathing

2022 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN)(2022)

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In this paper, we introduce Ommie, a novel robot that supports deep breathing practices for the purposes of anxiety reduction. The robot’s primary function is to guide users through a series of extended inhales, exhales, and holds by way of haptic interactions and audio cues. We present core design decisions during development, such as robot morphology and tactility, as well as the results of a usability study in collaboration with a local wellness center. Interacting with Ommie resulted in a significant reduction in STAI-6 anxiety measures, and participants found the robot intuitive, approachable, and engaging. Participants also reported feelings of focus and companionship when using the robot, often elicited by the haptic interaction. These results show promise in the robot’s capacity for supporting mental health.
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