This week, we launched a new feature ⌜Sleep⌟. It took a long time to reach the clarity needed to create something original in this space. We also embraced a very open innovation process. Here is a reflection of how the ⌜Sleep⌟ experience came together for Pause.
Strong customer needs
The original Pause was not designed to help people fall asleep. It had bright colors and required continuous interaction. It was the customers who discovered that it is very effective as a sleep aid. Many customers asked for optimizing the experience towards sleep, with calm colors, and allowing the music to keep playing for a while after the finger stopped moving (this is the moment of falling to sleep).
APPLE also recognized and promoted Pause as a sleep aid with a beautiful story.
Someone wants Mindfulness sometimes; everyone wants good sleep every night. The original Pause was designed for taking a mindful break during the day. We think both ‘Sleep’ and ‘mindful break’ deserve dedicated designs to maximize their benefit to customers.
Beyond Sleep stories?
Calm pioneered the Sleep stories with huge success. It brought the concept of bedtime stories for kids to everyone, with celebrities mesmerizing voices. In 2018, the Sleep section of Calm had reached 140 million times of listens. Sleep stories make sense for guided meditation apps like Calm. Most mindfulness apps copied it.
Pause approaches the mindfulness space from interactivity. We wanted to create a sleep experience that is true to our DNA.
Capturing the essence of letting go
As human beings, our default mode identifies our thoughts and feelings as who we are. An essential practice in mindfulness is to become aware that those inner phenomena are merely passing visitors, just like clouds.
The moment we stop seeing thoughts and feelings as who we are, we can choose different relationships with them. We can observe them in detail, breathe with them, transform their energy, or let them go. It has profound liberating potential.
We feel the relationship of letting go fits the context of preparing to sleep well. In most cases, it is a thought that keeps us awake. Whether it is sadness or excitement, it’s helpful to let them go and return the body and the mind to its neutrality.
We tried something new. We wanted to express the power of liberating from thoughts by letting users interacting with their thoughts and feelings as objects. The first step is to become aware of thoughts and feelings. So we invite users to reflect and write down something about the day briefly.
By mindfully moving finger slowly and gentle, users start to focus on the mindful movements, and attention is directed away from the seemingly solid thoughts and feelings. The moment we stop giving attention to our thoughts, they start to lose their power. We express this by dissolving the thoughts and feelings and transform them into streams of energy flowing towards the mindfully moving fingertip. What remains is pure awareness.
We then let the user choose how long they would like the music to play in the background while smoothing into sleep.
Dissolving thoughts and feelings seemed like a radical idea. I did not know how people would react. As soon as we made the 1st visual prototype, I shared on Linkedin and later posted an update. I got enough positive reactions, and most importantly, some very insightful comments from meditation practitioners and user experience researchers. Most of them were not in my network, yet they spent the time to write thoughtful reflections and suggestions on this topic. I thank all of you who reacted to my early posts. It has been a crucial encouragement to help us move forward.🙏
It’s a powerful practice to let go of the thoughts that this is ‘my idea.’ Openness will be at the heart of PauseAble’s DNA.
Launch, measure and learn
We know the 1st iteration is not perfect. We have not even done a proper usability test. But as a startup that tries to open up new perspectives, we think the most powerful act is launching. We look forward to learning from the real reactions from the world and rapidly iterate to improve.
The 1st iteration of the ⌜Sleep⌟ experience was launched on 15th Nov. 2020