Unwind is a handheld device designed to reduce stress and anxiety with a comforting pulse and calm light.

Photo of Hanna Zarrinnegar
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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

February 5, 2002

Help us stay in touch!

(650)619-8403 246 W. Santa Inez Ave. Hillsborough, CA 94010

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Unwind website: https://unwind.design/ Team video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYWJjgcCgp0

Date You Started Your Project Started

September 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting about 25% of teenagers and 18% of the entire population each year. Even more common is stress, which almost all teens around the world experience daily. Currently, there aren’t enough non-pharmaceutical strategies to cope with anxiety and stress, meaning many people are in search of a coping mechanism that is subtle, accessible, and applicable to a variety of situations.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Unwind is a handheld device, made of silicone and cement in the shape of a river stone, designed to alleviate stress and anxiety with a calming light and a comforting pulse, mimicking a heartbeat. Unwind began as a project to help our classmates alleviate their social anxiety. After interviewing people in our community, we found that the steady, grounding rhythm of a heartbeat helped to alleviate stress, and Unwind reflects this coping mechanism with a vibration motor to simulate a pulse. Unwind also features an LED that rhythmically dims and brightens to help users maintain a steady breathing pattern. To eliminate the need for an external switch, the product has a pressure sensor, so a simple press of the device switches between its three states: just vibration, vibration and LED, and off. Lastly, Unwind has induction charging to make it even more user-friendly. Unwind is one step on the journey of destigmatizing anxiety and mental illness, an invention which helps manage anxiety in an approachable way.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

We began Unwind with the intention of creating a product that helped alleviate helping alleviate stress and anxiety, an issue prevalent in our community and one that we personally experience on a daily basis. We believe that are not enough non-pharmaceutical strategies to cope with anxiety and stress, so we created a product that is compact, portable, and easy for all individuals to use. After interviewing students with anxiety in our community, we discovered that many of them most successfully reduced their stress by physically finding their pulse and focusing on the steady, grounding rhythm of their heartbeat. We incorporated this coping mechanism in our solution, with a vibration motor that simulates a grounding pulse. In order to help users maintain a steady breathing pattern, we also featured an LED that rhythmically dims and brightens in tandem with the vibrations.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

Link to elevator pitch video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qKBymMKa-kAAvT0zLbwQ-83OKPBDcn15/view

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

What makes Unwind unique is the fact that its applications are endless, and it is entirely at the user’s discretion how they want to use it. Unwind can be used in many different situations, making it adaptable to the user’s circumstances. We envision Unwind in kindergarten classrooms, high schoolers’ backpacks, and college lecture halls. It can be used as a pre- and post-business meeting anxiety reliever or a meditation aid. The device’s features help instill confidence and natural calmness in users to ensure that they can reach their fullest potential.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

There were many factors we kept in mind when designing Unwind that sets it apart from competitors. Subtlety is crucial in the mental health space, and Unwind can be invisible by easily slipping it into a pocket or backpack, allowing users to access our product in public and private spaces without inconveniencing themselves or those around them. Unwind is disconnected from an app because our phones are often a source of stress rather than a solution. Unwind’s lower cost (~$50 vs. ~$160+) makes mindfulness more approachable and accessible to a larger audience as compared to competitors.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, we have only collected verbal feedback on our product. After pitching Unwind, many individuals have come up to us and expressed their excitement—one kindergarten teacher said that it would be an ideal alternative to fidget spinners for her students, and business men and women are hoping to soon be able to use it in their workspace. Currently, we are working on collecting more quantitative data. We plan to conduct interviews and send out surveys to a variety of individuals who experience stress or anxiety, asking if Unwind would useful for them (as well as how it compares to some of their other coping mechanisms). We are also planning a study rooted in scientific data rather than subjective user testing. Through this we will obtain data on the physiological responses of using Unwind by measuring heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and perspiration and respiration rate.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Our current goals are to complete a working prototype and incorporate more user data into our design. After receiving feedback that our product should be heavier and more comforting to hold, we added concrete to our design and are working on finalizing it. We want to conduct surveys and studies to get more user data, and once we have a working prototype, we plan to get feedback on our new design and revise our product. We want to make sure that our product is the most effective stress and anxiety reliever that it can be, and so adjusting our design to fit user needs has been and will continue to be a constant process. Our final goal is a small-scale manufacturing run, which will allow us to distribute Unwind to our community.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Donations between $100-$1k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Connie Liu at Project Invent

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 25%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 25%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 50%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 25%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 25%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 25%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shannon Stephens

Hanna, I really love this idea! It reminds me a bit of ASMR, which is something many teens have used to self-treat anxiety. I can imagine many people carrying this stone in their pocket and be comforted by the weight and pulse. I could even imagine there being similar versions made into jewelry for increased subtlety, like a necklace where the stone acts as a pendant. I definitely have members who suffer from anxiety who would benefit from a product like this! I have flight anxiety and would love to have something like this to hold. I hope this product comes to fruition!

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