Almost 60 million people in Europe report unspecific anxiety states. Some of them even become seriously ill and needed to be treated. What if technology could guide us to deal constructively with our own insecurity and thus show us a way out of the vicious circle?

Who doesn’t know the daily worries? Do I manage my daily workload or all tasks in my private life? Have I taken enough care of X? Shouldn’t I get in touch with Y again? And Z certainly earns more than I do, although he always goes home on time… Everyday life, economic insecurity, but also global problems such as violence or globalization affect people. That is normal. Normal to the most…

Fear and insecurity are part of life. Fear in particular is an important signal that warns us of dangers and protects us. And most people function excellently despite the permanent insecurity and lead a fulfilled life.

But what about those who are in a phase of their lives in which they find it increasingly difficult to find distractions from perceived dangers? What about those who are unable to constructively deal with their own insecurity and run at risk of being drawn deeper into the spiral of fear?

For these people we wanted to create a catalyst object, for them to express their individual insecurity constructively and creatively with a social component before fear becomes pathological.

‍ÄNX is the result of our thought experiment. The concept combines generative design with augmented reality, motoric distraction with conscious breathing technique, where individual fears will lead into positive communication. It is not a therapeutically approved remedy, but an everyday object that allows every human being to channel his or her negative feelings, fears and uncertainties and to detach himself or herself from them in a creative way.

“He who knows no fear is not courageous, he who knows fear is courageous, he who overcomes it.” Khalil Gibran

The psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers describes fear as “a frequent and painful feeling. Fear is directed at something, anxiety is undirected.” We cushion this in itself disturbing non-representation by giving the person concerned something –in the truest sense of the word– in his hand. A hand flatterer, a fidget spinner – of the next generation. The conscious long exhalation activates the ÄNX-device and at the same time helps the affected person to find a relaxed breathing rhythm again. Because often fear goes along with physical symptoms, which are stressful and physically draining.

The conscious or later unconscious play with the device creates in the virtual background a unique 3D sculpture of colors, shapes, structures and lights. Each sculpture is as unique as its creator and his feelings in that moment.

If the stress eases or the fear subsides, the participant of the ÄNX-community can look at his sculpture on any digital device. So instead of re-entering after the temporary attack to his everyday life again, ÄNX stops him or her to briefly linger in the moment and see what he has created: The sculpture of his agitated mind.

Then it’s up to the user whether he deletes his work on the spot or  –from us – releases it preferably into augmented reality, where others can find it, see it and contact the creator via it. As part of the Änx-community you are not alone with your worries but find artefacts in the whole urban space. It’s exactly where office people rack their brains and feel stress, but at the same time are open-minded towards electronic helpers.

Currently, the concept is nothing more than intellectual stretching and a lot of Adobe magic. However, the idea is well received by many colleagues and friends of the company, so it might be worthwhile to think about it further and to talk to experts about fear and anxiety disorders as well as affected people. Our model is ready …

Until then, we would also appreciate your feedback as a reader of the article: Which aspects should we work out more clearly? What are your personal strategies in dealing with stress and anxiety? Is it appropriate to confront psychological and emotional stress with technology?

As you see, we have a lot more questions than answers and are looking forward to discussing them with you!

Read more about ÄNX in this article.

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