Tag Archives: wellbeing

Jenny Tillotson: Science, Smell, and Fasion

Jenny Tillotson is a researcher and fashion designer who is currently exploring how scent plays a role in emotion and psychological states. As someone living with bipolar disorder, she’s been acutely aware of what affects her own emotions states and has been exploring different methods to track them. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Jenny discusses her new project, Sensory Fashion, that uses wearable tracking technology and scent and sensory science to improve wellbeing. Be sure to read her description below when you finish watching her excellent talk.


You can also view the slides here.

What did you do?
I established a new QS project called ‘SENSORY FASHION’, funded by a Winston Churchill Fellowship that combines biology with wearable technology to benefit people with chronic mental health conditions. This allowed me to travel to the USA and meet leading psychiatrists, psychologists and mindfulness experts and find new ways to build monitoring tools that SENSE and balance the physiological, psychological and emotional states through the sense of smell. My objective was to manage stress and sleep disturbance using olfactory diagnostic biosensing tools and micro delivery systems that dispense aromas on-demand. The purpose was to tap into the limbic system (the emotional centre of our brain) with aromas that reduce sleep and stress triggers and therefore prevent a major relapse for people like myself who live with bipolar disorder on a day to day basis. I designed my own personalized mood-enhancing ‘aroma rainbow’ that dispenses a spectrum of wellbeing fragrances to complement orthodox medication regimes such as taking mood stabilizers.

How did you do it?
Initially by experimenting with different evidence-based essential oils with accessible clinical data, such as inhaling lavender to aid relaxation and help sleep, sweet orange to reduce anxiety and peppermint to stimulate the brain. I developed a technology platform called ‘eScent’ which is a wearable device that distributes scent directly into the immediate vicinity of the wearer upon a biometric sensed stimuli (body odor, ECG, cognitive response, skin conductivity etc). The scent forms a localized and personalized ‘scent bubble’ around the user which is unique to the invention, creating real-time biofeedback scent interventions. The result promotes sleep hygiene and can treat a range of mood disorders with counter-active calming aromas when high stress levels reach a pre-set threshold.

What did you learn?
I learnt it is possible to track emotional states through body smells, for example by detecting scent signals that are specific to individual humans. In my case this was body odor caused by chronic social anxiety from increased cortisol levels found in sweat and this could be treated with anxiolytic aromas such as sweet orange that create an immediate calming effect. In addition, building olfactory tools can boost self-confidence and communication skills, or identify ‘prodromal symptoms’ in mood disorders; they learn your typical patterns and act as a warning signal by monitoring minor cognitive shifts before the bigger shifts appear. This can easily be integrated into ‘Sensory Fashion’ and jewelry in a ‘de-stigmatizing’ manner, giving the user the prospect of attempting to offer them some further control of their emotional state through smell, whether by conscious control or bio-feedback. The next step is to miniaturize the eScent technology and further explore the untapped research data on the science of body (emotional) odor.

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Conference Preview: Kostas Augemberg and the Quantified Summer

QSSF13PREVIEW
If you’ve followed along here on the Quantified Self website or attended a meetup in your community you know that self-tracking isn’t limited to using gadgets or apps. Some of our most interesting talk come from individuals who are exploring their lives through the lens of personal data collection. That is, data that and methods that are very personal and specific to the individual. Kostas Augemberg is no exception. We’ve already posted a great talk by Kostas that describes what happened when he asked himself, “How can I track my happiness?” and we’re excited he will be joining us at the upcoming 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference.

konstantin_presentationKostas is a statistician and has been on a personal quest called Measured Me for the past year. His goal along this journey is to help develop a personal holistic system to help him “improve and understand his life.” Over this past year he’s taken a deep dive into exploring what it’s like to track subjective and objective wellbeing. These include tracking data in areas like “Existential Wellbeing”, “Living Well”, and “External Factors” among others. Suffice to say, this is an ambitious project!

At the conference Kostas will be sharing insights and results from his “Quantified Summer” project during which he attempted to capture his holistic and comprehensive wellbeing for 100 days. This includes tracking the following variables: Happiness, Life Satisfaction, Physical Health, Physical Energy, Stress, Emotional State, Alertness, Executive Cognitive Functions, and Sleep Quality at regular intervals each day for 100 consecutive days. We’re excited to learn about his tracking project and can’t wait to hear more! If you would like to follow along before the conference Kostas invites you to monitor his progress on his Lifestream dashboard.

The Quantified Self Global Conference will be held in San Francisco on October 10th and 11th. Registration is now open. As with all our conferences our speakers are members of the community. We hope to see you there!

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