Emotionally Responsive Wearable Technology and Stress Detection for Affective Disorders

Tillotson J
Psychiatra Danubina, 2017


As humans, we are born with no knowledge of odour. Our sense of smell is linked directly to the limbic system, the emotional part of our brain responsible for memory and behaviour, and therefore, our individual sense of smell is based purely on life’s deep experiences and impressions. The roots of “Aromatherapy” can be traced back more than 3,500 years, to a time when essential oils were first recorded in human history for their therapeutic and medicinal properties. However, in the 21st century, it remains one of the most controversial complementary therapies applied in medicine because of its pseudoscience connotations and limited available data on health benefits, despite the importance of smell on human health. Here I introduce the concept of “eScent”, an emotionally responsive wearable technology that picks up on your emotions and vital signs and sends a personalisable ‘scent bubble’ to your nose. It combines sensing and dispensing aromatics for immersive experiences and multiple health benefits. It presents an empowering, sensory intervention and resilience builder that emits mood-enhancing aromas in a controllable way, depending on biofeedback. The advantage of essential oilsmerged with biometric sensors and intelligent tracking devices (e.g. an Apple Watch), could lead to a new palette of scents that are bio-synchronized to an individual’s emotional, mental, and/or physical state and in a real-time manner alleviate high levels of stress, thus preventing the risk of a serious mental ill health relapse. Closure of the loop with wearable scent delivery systems requires an innovative, creative and collaborative approach, crossing many disciplines in psychological related sciences, biotechnology and industrial design. Testing such hypotheses in translational human studies is a matter of future research which could not only lead to valuable “prodromal” interventions for psychiatry, but new stress management tools for people suffering from affective disorders.


Tillotson J. Emotionally Responsive Wearable Technology and Stress Detection for Affective Disorders. Psychiatr Danub. 2017 Sep;29(Suppl 3):604-606.

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