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A job interview, presentation at work, or even meeting your partner's parents for the first time—we're regularly faced with a lot of stressful situations. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to deliver a dose of calm to our bodies and brains when we really need it? A new study, published in Scientific Reports, showed that a wearable device that delivers heartbeat-like tactile stimulation can help curb people's anxieties when faced with anxieties over public speaking.
What does the research say?
The study was designed to test whether the device would have a calming effect on physiological arousal and reports of anxiety in people facing the task of public speaking—which is often used to induce stress in research protocols. The participants were separated into two groups (25 people in each group), and both wore the device before their speech. To keep the participants out of the loop, they were told the device was there to measure their blood pressure. In only one group the device was turned on, delivering the vibration.
Results showed that people who had the active device on their wrist had a lower increase in skin conductance (which is a common way of measuring physiological stress), and they also reported lower levels of anxiety when they were faced with public speaking.
How does this device really work?
The device, called doppel, works by creating a vibration that mimics the sound of a heartbeat. And according to researchers, the science behind it is all based on body awareness. If you're in need of a little more explanation—you're in luck. We talked to Fotini Markopoulou, CEO of doppel and world-renowned physicist, and she explained that "Our brains and bodies respond naturally to rhythm. This can be a biological rhythm, for example, the heartbeats of a mother and baby will synchronize with one another when they interact closely. But we also respond to external rhythms. The tempo of a song can naturally alter our breathing rate and heart rate."
The device is designed with exactly this in mind and aims to make us feel calmer—right on the spot. According to Markopoulou, "doppel takes advantage of this universal bodily response by using what is arguably the most natural and ubiquitous biological rhythm: the human heartbeat." You can even set the pace to one that you feel makes you the calmest.