Feb. 18, 2015 | By Kira

Our day-to-day lives are saturated with intense sensory experiences: from the piercing ring of your alarm clock to the constant buzz of your smartphone to the smell of your co-worker’s lunch. While not all sensory experiences are bad (a hug from a loved one, the warmth of a cup of coffee), our attention is being increasingly fragmented by daily disturbances, and it can begin to feel like there’s no way out. Sensory deprivation, a process that deliberately numbs your senses, is becoming a popular option for those with certain illnesses, chronic pain, or who just want to tune out and relax, and a French company has turned to 3D printing to make it available to the masses.

image via The Healthy Life Experiment

Sensory deprivation works by reducing or removing stimuli from one or more senses; think of a blindfold or earmuffs. For a more intense experience, sensory deprivation practitioners have turned to flotation tanks (also known as isolation tanks), a completely lightless and soundproof tank where subjects can float in a bath of saltwater that remains exactly at skin temperature. While the concept of being unable to move, see, smell or feel anything against your body may seem frightening at first, many users have reported a heightened sense of introspection and out-of-body experiences, similar to the benefits of meditation. Flotation therapy has been used in alternative medicine and in psychological experiments, and has been academically studied in the USA and in Sweden with results showing reduction of pain and stress, lowered blood pressure and maximal blood flow.

Although flotation therapy has already proven to be popular in the USA, Canada, England and Germany, Alexandre Kournwsky and Maïté Breger, the free-spirited founders of meïsō, wanted to bring its health and spiritual benefits to their home country, France. But first, they had to improve on the existing design and find an affordable way to make their vision a reality.

“Flotation tanks, now called flotation cocoons, have evolved several times since their inception 50 years ago, but they were not yet optimal,” said the designers on their blog. “We rethought the overall design of the system to improve the ergonomics, comfort, efficiency, and maintenance all the while adding the possibility to personalize your experience with chromotherapy and sound therapy. In short, we wanted to make this tool a real platform for relaxation and introspection.”

Once they were happy with their design, which looks like a cute, individually sized space pod (hence the name ‘meditation cocoon’), the next obstacle was cost. Since building the tanks using traditional sources was too expensive, the young team turned to their desktop 3D printer. “This proved to be a very economical solution to the traditional manufacturing processes, but much slower,” they said. It took three months to print all 500 individual bricks, which were then assembled into a float tank. Two more weeks were required to sand, paint, and coat the tank in fiberglass. Despite the long printing process, Kournwsky and Berger used the time in-between to continue improving their design and admit that if they had had to turn to industrial professionals, the project would never have been possible.

The company has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to fund further manufacturing and implementation, as well as the venue, furniture, commercial equipment and operating sales. So far, they have managed to raise 6,660 of their 8,000 goal, with nine days left to go in their campaign.

They have also secured the first location where their meditation cocoons will be installed: La Paillasse in Paris, a community-based interdisciplinary workspace and laboratory that adheres to the principles of collaborating, opensource creation, and DIY, just like meïsō. The launch date is set for February 2015.

Whether its everyday stress, chronic back pain, or the desire to reach a higher level of deep consciousness, these 3D printed meditation cocoons sure to bring the peace and relaxation we all so desperately need. If you are interested in contributing to the meïsō campaign, the current pre-sale prices include 40-60% discounts. A €50 donation will earn you one floatation session, or you can go all the way up to €500 for a monthly cocoon reservation.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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