Boost your energy in a heartbeat

By Lauren Hoskin

A team of master’s students at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art have developed a wearable technology that aims to give people more control over their energy levels. The device, called Tempo is a pulsating wristband that emulates the human heartbeat to encourage the user’s own heart to synchronise. The pulse can then be accelerated or slowed down depending on the user’s preference.

Tempo works on the basis that humans can feel an affinity with patterns outside their own body. For example, partners living together regularly have synchronised heartbeats. This phenomenon is similar to women living in the same household who often have coordinated periods.

Tempo

The wristband therefore simulates this same physiological pattern by persuading the human heart to increase or decrease slightly according to its pace. If Tempo’s pulse is set faster, the user’s heart will speed up leaving them feeling more energised. Likewise, slowing it down can have a relaxing effect.

The initial experiments involved a set of identical products that each had a different pulse. The team asked a group of volunteers to choose their favourite without telling them what the difference was. After wearing the devices for a short time, around 68% percent of volunteers chose the one with a rate closest to their own heartbeat.

The students further tested the product on twenty five volunteers in a controlled and relaxing setting. The volunteers were tested for alertness and aptitude on various tasks. All those who wore Tempo with a rate faster than their own reported feeling more awake and were able to complete the tasks in a shorter time.

Although the product has only been tested in twenty five people so far, the team has started investigations with an experimental psychologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, who is looking to test the product further. Before being brought to market, Tempo will have to be trialled for negative side effects as well as the possibility that people could become dependent on it. However, since exercise generally has a much greater effect on the heart, it is likely that it is completely safe.

Nell Bennett, Tempo’s Product Designer, says: “I think Tempo could be really useful to get people through that last hour of work when they’re feeling tired. It’s weaker than coffee but similar to the effect you might get from listening to upbeat music. We believe the best thing about Tempo is the control that it gives you over your own energy levels”.

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