Wearing your heart on your sleeve: This wristband can change how you feel

This post first appeared on the QEPrize website

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation exists to celebrate and promote engineering and to demonstrate its important role in society. Every two years we award the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering: an international £1million prize that celebrates engineers responsible for an innovation that has been of global benefit to humanity.

We’ve all wanted to change how we feel at some point. Perhaps you drink coffee to feel more alert before arriving at work. Or maybe you’ve considered taking up yoga to help wind down at the end of the day.

But three years ago, a mechanical engineer, an electronics engineer, an industrial designer and a quantum physicist sat down and asked “What if we can use technology to naturally change how we feel, think and behave?” The group of students had first met on the Innovation Design Engineering joint MSc/MA course at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.

Since then Jack, Andreas, Nell and Fotini have been working on technology inspired by psychophysiology – the study of the relationship between the mind and the body.

Their first product, doppel, is a next-generation wearable that helps users stay alert or calm down, naturally and on demand.

doppel uses your own body to help pep up for that really long meeting, stay calm during an important presentation or wind down at the end of the day.

Different from traditional wearables that merely measure or monitor your body, the doppel wristband emits a vibration that feels like a heartbeat on the inside of your wrist – working with your body’s natural response to rhythm to change how you feel.

We do not simply perceive this rhythm, but we entrain to it – a faster rhythm makes us feel more alert, and a slower one calms us down. The effect is similar to listening to upbeat or slower music. However, unlike with music or other outside stimulants or depressants such as caffeine or sleep aids, you can set your pace, whenever and wherever you want.

doppel’s award-winning technology has been independently shown to improve focus as well as significantly reduce stress in controlled scientific studies run by the Royal Holloway University London.

Last year, stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health in the UK. That’s 11.7 million days in total. Most of us know that things like yoga or meditation can be relaxing, but many of us don’t have the time.

doppel is both natural and on-demand. It works with a companion app, but once set, you can leave your phone behind. Change to the slower rhythm by stroking the device or give it a short sharp tap to feel the faster beat kick in. The app stores your personal rhythms, each one linked to your own resting heart rate, and you can upload new pairs at any time.

The team raised £111,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and have been taking pre-orders since then. The product ships in March this year and will retail at $179.