Web student Tom Bennett creates mindfulness application for his Major Project

15 Oct 2019

SAE Liverpool Web Development student Tom Bennett created a mindfulness app for his Major Project, which drew on his interest in yoga and mindfulness, as well as his prior Audio Production study at SAE. 

Since finishing his studies at SAE he has got a job as a front end developer. We caught up with him to hear a bit more about his new role, and to find out more about his Major Project. 

What did you work on for your major project and what did this involve?

My major project involved research into mindfulness and its effects on stress within clinical trials, the NHS and buddhism. The aim of the project was to create an interactive application that could be used to facilitate stress reduction using some of the techniques that have been studied within this field. 

What inspired you to look at mindfulness application via voice activation and lighting sensors? 

Stress is extremely common and is something I have experienced myself. I have been practicing yoga and mindfulness for many years and am very aware of its benefits in coping with stress, so wanted to produce an app that combined some of the techniques that I have used myself. Along with this I also studied Audio Engineering at SAE some years ago and hoped that my experience in audio, yoga and meditation could be combined with web development to produce this application.

What skills and techniques that you developed on the course did you use for your Major Project?

The skills I used were wide ranging and included a case study of Headspace, research techniques that I developed on the course, as well as critical analysis, methodologies and writing techniques. Some of the technical skills I have learnt were applied and along with HTML and CSS the main language used was JavaScript. This language enabled the application to be interactive and produced audio and visual responses to a users voice by capturing it through the microphone and applying functions using JavaScript. 

What challenges did you encounter during the project, and how did you overcome these? 

Some of the challenges included the Web Audio API, which is a system for controlling audio on the web. This system required additional reading and education in order to familiarise myself with it. An element of Colour and Audio psychology were required to understand how they can affect a person’s emotions, as it is these elements that will ultimately facilitate psychological stress responses in the end user. 

By humming into the application a harmonic and a specific colour are produced. These can produce things like Binaural Beats, Auditory Illusions, Harmonies, Consonance and Dissonance within audio. And relationships between colour systems such as complementary colours, analogous colours or even the The Chakra system.

These responses have been shown to induce various emotional and physiological responses, which have been shown to have the potential to affect a user by reducing stress, calming the mind, develop tranquility and cultivate concentration.

What did you enjoy about the course at SAE? 

The support I received through the course and my final project was incredible and my lecturers helped me to refine my ideas and learn the technical components required for this application.

SAE offers a more personal approach to education with much smaller class sizes than a traditional university. The lecturers are always available for support and I found that they offered support above and beyond what I expected. 

What area of the Web industry are you hoping to go into? 

I have been lucky enough to secure myself a front end developer job following the course in a company that I am really excited about. The team at SAE have been extremely supportive even after finishing my degree, in offering advice to secure this job, for which I am very grateful.

Do you have any advice for students who started the Web course in September? 

Be organised - I have never used a diary before this degree but it is the most essential tool for me now - everything is diarised which makes planning easier, makes tasks seem less daunting and more manageable.

Work hard - The time flies by so get your head down and get it done… It will be over before you know it and your work ethic will reflect in your result, and your prospects. After your degree you can take a year out and have all the fun you want!

Spend some time coming up with your projects - there is a huge amount of work that goes into big projects so make it something you want to know more about/ are interested in learning about as you will spend a lot of time on it. If you do this you can make it exciting… If not it can get boring and tedious. Utilise your lecturers to refine and inspire your ideas - they know what they’re talking about!

Look after yourself  - schedule in downtime, well-being, exercise and time out… If you are feeling overworked, overstressed or overwhelmed your work will be affected. Looking after yourself first is the foundation for everything else.