Wearing a pulsing, heartbeat-like device on the inside of the wrist can help a person feel significantly less stressed out, a new study from the University of Royal Holloway London suggests.
The calming effects of “doppel” – the device designed to de-stress its wearer through a vibrating rhythm – were backed up by the positive way people respond to even tempos like those found in songs and heart rates.
“We…intuitively associate higher and lower heart rate with anxiety…and calmness,” said Manos Tsakiris, a professor at the university. “The design of doppel, the device that we used in our study, was inspired by these insights.”
People have naturally positive reactions to slower tempos, which tend to promote calmness, where faster rhythms evoke feelings of excitement and surprise or even fear and anger, scientists have found.
Volunteers of the study wore a doppel on their wrists while the researchers exposed them to social stressors and measured their anxiety. Then, they were divided into two groups: one with the vibrating device turned on, the other with it off, and asked to perform the universally stressful task of preparing a speech. The participants were also asked to complete a questionnaire to gauge their stress levels.
The study showed that a doppel – emitting a slow beat – was able to calm the minds and bodies of those wearing it to a noticeable, dramatic degree when compared to the participants with a powered-down device.
“Wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, but across the board their primary aim is to quantify our activity,” Tsakiris said.
“The results we got suggest that, rather than measuring ourselves, we can instead harvest our natural responses to heartbeat like rhythms in ways that can assist people in their everyday life.”