The latest wearable tech device can calm you down or energise you with the stroke of a finger
Bad moods can come out of nowhere and last for hours, ruining perfectly pleasant afternoons with their lingering pessimism. But the latest form of wearable tech claims to have an antidote, with a watch that can apparently transform your mood.
The watch, Doppel, uses electric pulses to clam you down or boost your energy, vibrating against your wrist with a gentle electronic beat. One stroke of the dial creates a slow, calming beat, while a quick squeeze of the watch creates a faster, energising pulse. The pulsations are designed to have a similar effect to music, and are imperceptible to anyone other than the watch-wearer.
“Fast music pumps you up, slow music chills you out – it’s something that happens to you without you even realising it,” says Nell Bennett, who designed Doppel. “But playing music isn’t always possible. If you’re in a meeting and you’re feeling stressed and panicky or angry, you can’t say, ‘Don’t mind me while I just listen to some calming music’. This is a way to subtly and easily calm yourself down or pump yourself up on the go.”
“We wanted to create something very intuitive, which reflects habits humans already have, like stroking your temples”
Doppel was designed by four students – a mechanical engineer, a material scientist, a quantum physicist an a designer – at a double masters program at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art. The group ran tests on more than 40 people to determine the effects of their watch.
“We could see a direct change in terms of people calming down. We found people’s focus doubled and their reactions times also improved, which is rare,” says Bennett. “It’s an effect that seems to happen with anyone, whether they like the product or not. Even those who said they found it distracting didn’t actually show a decrease in concentration. We like to think of it as technological doping or performance enhancing technology.”
“If you’re in a meeting and you’re feeling yourself getting stressed and panicky or angry, you can’t say: ‘don’t mind me while I just listen to some calming music'”
The device is currently a prototype, but has the backing of 820 Kickstarter donors who have pledged £111,194 to turn Doppel into a widely-available product. The device could be useful for sportsmen – “I use it for running a lot, because it can energise you at the start of a run and help you keep pace with a beat,” says Bennett – but once Doppel is a reality, he expects the device will be used by busy professionals.
“We don’t envisage it as being used in sport – that market is so saturated. We see it as being used by professionals with a stressful working lifestyle,” says Bennett. “There’s nothing invasive about it at all. It’s not like caffeine which isn’t necessarily very good for you. It’s not dangerous in any way. It’s as dangerous as listening to music – i.e. not very.”
The team have already met their target of £100,000 on Kickstarter
At £200 for a limited edition Doppel, the product isn’t cheap. When there are thousands of apps out there all claiming to alter your mood for just a couple of pounds, it could be difficult to justify forking out £200 for the privilege of having a small heartbeat pulse gently against your wrist.
But if you’re stressed out and overworked, then perhaps £200 is a small price for a moment of true calm.