Why does touch promote wellbeing while a lack of touch results in distress? In a new citizen science project featured in the BBC’s Anatomy of Touch, our team has also implemented the Virtual Touch Toolkit within a new mobile phone app to inform you about the importance of affective touch through interactive exercises, expert interview videos and a daily diary function where you can write about what helped and what didn’t. At the same time, for those willing to share their data, the project will help us to better understand the link between affective touch and wellbeing. 


Introduction to the HandsOn App

The HandsOn app combines touch training exercises with video interviews with touch experts as well as a daily diary function. Together these three functions will allow the user to become informed with the most up-to-date research into the power of touch, train their sense of touch and to reflect on both the videos and exercises and track how these influence their sense of wellbeing.


Meet the experts

Full interviews as well as easy-to-digest short clips can be viewed on our YouTube channel. Meet face to face with those in the know. You will hear about the power of touch to soothe, to regulate, to calm, to alleviate pain and to connect and communicate with others. They will tell you about the most up-to-date research findings, making it relevant to your day-to-day experiences. Our range of experts span the globe and include neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers. 


Train your sense of touch

Based on the most up-to-date research, our range of exercises will help you to become more mindful, regulate your stress, help you become more bodily aware and train your sense of touch. Did you know that you have two senses of touch? Do you know where on your body most of your affective touch receptors are to be found? Did you know that they are activated preferentially when stroked precisely at the gentle stroking speed that your mother or father used to soothe you as a child? Download the app and find out for yourselves answers to these and so many more questions. Together with the videos we hope to give you the chance to take back control over your mood and wellbeing with your in-built regulation system; all through the power of touch.


App Release

If you want to find out more about your two senses of touch and how they differ, if you want to learn about how touch influences mental health and wellbeing and benefit directly from mindfully centered exercises, then we hope you will download our app and be part of this citizen science project. 

A beta version of the HandsOn app is now ready to help us fine tune the app for general release. If you would like to be one of our beta testers please email us to register. 

To take part, you will need:

  • an Android smartphone
  • 80 MB of storage (we agree, this may sound like a lot but when you see the exciting multisensory interactions you can experience with our 3D avatar of your body, we hope you will understand and appreciate why we need this space!)
  • some time to try out the app’s many exciting functions at least once a day for the next week
  • to be willing to complete a 20-minute online questionnaire detailing your experience playing with the app once at the end of that week


If you would like to help us and harness the power of touch to heal, to improve mental wellbeing and increase bodily awareness, please simply register by sending an email to Prof. Merle Fairhurst or Dr. Olga Lantukhova