Ommie is a robot developed by Kayla Matheus, Marynel Vazquez, and Brian Scassellati designed to support mental health, specifically those with anxiety. Ommie’s core interaction is to support deep breathing, the practice of extending one’s inhales, holds, and exhales. This practice has been shown to calm the autonomic nervous system and reduce anxiety states. Ommie supports the practice by mechanically expanding and contracting in the cadence of deep breathing while a user places their hands on the robot. Early usability testing with the robot shows a quantitatively significant reduction in anxiety state measures after use, as well as high rankings from users on the robot’s calming, approachable, and engaging qualities. Users additionally report Ommie’s haptic and audio interactions as providing a focusing effect, leading to faster calming than other methods they have used in the past. They also describe a companionship element to using Ommie while deep breathing, reminiscent of the motivational effect of meditating in groups or with another person. 



Kayla Matheus, Marynel Vázquez, Brian Scassellati (2022). A Social Robot for Anxiety Reduction via Deep Breathing. In the 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Naples, Italy. ***BEST STUDENT PAPER AWARD [PDF]