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UTS Product Designer Smoothes Stress Away

5 April 2017

Stress: arguably one of the most debilitating, potentially harmful and ubiquitous modern-day ailments impacting us daily. And yet, there are little to no portable treatment tools available to both diagnose and alleviate our stress levels, until now.                                 

Developed by UTS Integrated Product Design Honours student, Caroline Vasta, SkinSense is designed to counteract stress by rapidly identifying rising levels in the user and providing simple, on-the-go exercises to reduce and treat the stress early.

Three close up images of a bracelet-like device on a wrist

SkinSense has been designed to detect and eliminate stress by using a repetitive patting technique.

“Research has proven countless times that stress left undetected or untreated not only has a detrimental effect on our mental health and anxiety levels, it can also lead to serious health problems such as autoimmune disorders and heart disease,” explains Caroline who created SkinSense as part of her year-long major project.

Made from flexible circuit material known as Pyralux, the ‘skin’ utilises two sensors on the body detecting the users galvanic skin response and their respiratory rate.

The interactive glove then intuitively transforms from being smooth and flat, to a more rigid and raised shape when the user is identified as being in a heightened emotional state. 

Caroline continues: “This change in shape prompts a physical interaction - patting - to smooth the skin back to its smooth (calm) state. By engaging the user in repetitive patting motions, it results in what is known in psychology as the Relaxation Response, which ultimately reduces stress levels.”

SkinSense device displayed on black hand and wrist dummy next to circuitry

SkinSense was selected to feature in the 2016 UTS Product Design exhibition, curated by professional designers and academics.

Detail of triangular shapes that form SkinSense device

An early prototype of SkinSense, designed by UTS product design graduate Caroline Vasta.

 

 

The young designer decided to explore medical science product development after uncovering a gap in the market with regards to the detection of stress. She set out to design a closed loop system that was able to both detect and treat symptoms.

“Perhaps because mental health is still somewhat a taboo subject, and because stress is so prevalent, there’s an idea that we ‘just need to learn how to live with it’.

“But that just seems so counterintuitive to me, especially as it impacts so many of us. I was determined to design a system that’s fluid and natural, while also simultaneously decreasing the negative stigma around stress,” she adds.

As one of the broadest disciplines available within the UTS Design spectrum, product designers offer innovative design solutions to many common every day issues, through physical product design and prototyping, digital design or service design:

“At UTS we’re surrounded by academics who work closely with industry, for example, one of our professors developed interactive stepping tiles to assist stroke suffering from mobility issues – these are now being used in rehabilitation treatment centres across the country,” explains the recent graduate.

“That’s the sort of universal impact I’m hoping to achieve through my designs.”


“At the heart of product design is the ability to problem solve creatively. We aim to design, and redesign, new experiences that make a difference to the way individuals interact with everyday life.Product design was a natural fit for Caroline, who as a self-proclaimed ‘hands-on person’ was instantly attracted to the practice-based approach adopted by the UTS course.

“Our Honours exhibition was such a highlight as it demonstrated to not only our lecturers but the wider UTS community and professionals from across the industrial design industry in Australia, how as emerging designers, we’re taught to design solutions that have significant social impact.”

Find out more about the Bachelor of Design (Honours) in Integrated Product Design.