One of the challenges of dealing with depression, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder is the fact that your emotions can take control of you, without your even realizing that it's happening. An experimental new wristband could help, as it alerts wearers to changes in their emotional state.

Scientists at Britain's Lancaster University have actually developed several versions of the device, all of which utilize sensors on their underside to detect fluctuations in the electrical conductivity of the wearer's skin – this is known as galvanic skin response, and it varies in accordance to a person's level of emotional arousal.

Although the setup can't identify individual emotions, the researchers state that low arousal tends to be associated with feelings such as sadness, whereas high arousal is an indicator of anxiety.

Some of the prototypes squeeze the wearer's wrist to alert them to changes in emotion, while others vibrate or heat up. In the case of the latter, the heat also causes thermochromic materials on the exterior of the wristband to change color, much like the mood rings of the 1970s.

In a test of the technology, volunteers wore the devices for multiple eight-to-16-hour periods while playing games, working, having conversations, watching movies, laughing, relaxing and becoming scared. It was found that after as little as two days of use, participants became more adept at identifying emotional responses of which they were previously unaware.

"We wanted to create low-cost, simple prototypes to support understanding and engagement with real-time changes in arousal," says PhD student Muhammad Umair, co-author of a paper on the research. "The idea is to develop self-help technologies that people can use in their everyday life and be able to see what they are going through. Wrist-worn private affective wearables can serve as a bridge between mind and body and can really help people connect to their feelings."

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