New Smart Device Reacts When You Are Depressed, Anxious

People diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorders may soon better control their feelings with a new smart wearable technology. Developers at Lancaster University created wristbands that change color based on the level of emotion of the user. 

The team said the tool could help eliminate the need for mobile or desktop devices to understand someone’s feelings. Monitoring emotions in real-time could lead to faster response. 

"Knowing our emotions and how we can control them are complex skills that many people find difficult to master," Muhammad Umair, study co-author from Lancaster Univesity, said in a statement. “The idea is to develop self-help technologies that people can use in their everyday life and be able to see what they are going through.”

To create the device, the researchers used thermochromic materials that change color when exposed to heat. Prototypes provided different responses when the user felt an elevated emotion, such as through vibration, tightening or heat sensation.

A skin response sensor was installed on the devices to measure the electrical conductivity of the skin. During tests, participants reported the device effectively activated when they experienced changes in emotions. 

They worked while they were playing games, working, having conversations, watching movies, laughing, relaxing and feeling scared.

"Participants started to pay attention to their in-the-moment emotional responses, realizing that their moods had changed quickly and understanding what it was that was causing the device to activate,” Muhammad said. “It was not always an emotional response, but sometimes other activities, such as taking part in exercise - could cause a reaction.”

The participants were also able to identify important emotional responses, which they commonly miss prior the tests. 

Keeping Unwanted Emotions Under Control

Emotions play a key role in almost all human activities. Regulating your emotions is important, for losing your cool may negatively affect how you interact with people around you. 

When you are feeling frustrated during rush hour traffic and someone cuts you off on the road, losing control and letting your anger control you could lead to unwanted responses. 

The new smart wearable tech promises to help people, especially those with mood disorders, to learn how to control emotions and better understand their feelings by monitoring it in real time. 

Muhammad Umair Co-creator Muhammad Umair wearing one of the prototype smart materials wrist bands. Paul Turner/Lancaster University