Emotional Accessories? Mood Altering Wearable Technologies
Mood affects just about every aspect of our daily lives. An individual’s mental outlook plays a role in how they deal with family, friends and work. Studies have also proven that positive emotions boost the immune system while negative ones suppress it. It should then come as no surprise that researchers, both medical and industrial, are searching for methods to improve or alter our moods through wearable technology.
Clinical techniques, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (TMS) are administered by a psychiatrist. TMS Therapy uses lightly charged currents on the prefrontal cortex, and is effective in treating conditions like depression, addiction, chronic pain and bipolar disorder among others. The non-invasive therapy is an alternative for adults who don’t react well to taking anti-depressants over long periods of time as well.
Wearable technologies for consumers have been on the market for a few years now and can be used without a prescription or with the aid of a specialist. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing industries in the tech field, with an estimated $5 billion this year in sales. Until recently, however, they’ve been limited to tracking fitness regimens, such as heart rate, calories burned, the distance a person walked or ran and even what kind of sleep someone is getting. The newest round of wearables show promise for positively enhancing mood.
Mood Enhancing Wearable Technology
Thync is a device that attaches to the back of the head and the forehead. It’s controlled by a smartphone app and has two settings, energy and calm. Thync uses electric currents to stimulate the nerves located on the back of the neck and top of the head that connect to the brain.
In an interview on CBS This Morning, Thync CEO Isy Goldwater said, “So what we’re doing is signaling those nerves electrically to just trigger your body to respond physiologically.”
Doppel is a device that attaches to the underside of the wrist, much like a watch, and claims to work with “your body’s natural response to change how you feel,” according to their website. It delivers a high rhythm and a low rhythm that a user can adjust to in an effort to make themselves more aware or relaxed. One reviewer suggested it’s similar to the way upbeat music can motivate the body and downbeat music can relax it.
This wearable is calibrated using a smartphone app that measures a person’s resting heart rate. Co-developer, Jack Hooper, told Reuters, “…that’s the bio-data we need to set the levels that you need to either [get] calm or get going. It’s not a lot of data, but we’re using it very smartly.”
Critics of these devices claim that the technologies could rob people of learning how to cope with and regulate their moods naturally. Proponents argue that mood altering wearables are no different from drinking a cup of coffee to get some energy and focus.
Regardless, both pharmaceutical and mechanical technologies geared toward improving daily life continue to evolve and perhaps there really will be an app for everything in the near future.
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