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Introducing TRACES – the Messaging App with Added Dopamine

It’s something we intuitively know to be true and now research has proven it: social media and mobiles are making us less happy and more anxious.

Traces is the world's first immersive messaging app - letting you send video, pictures and music to  ...

Traces is the world's first immersive messaging app - letting you send video, pictures and music to specific locations. Photo credit: Ljudmilla Socci

So how can we use digital technology to connect with each other in a more meaningful, human way?

That’s a question that world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Beau Lotto set out to answer. Using his research into how human perception works, Beau and a team of designers and mobile innovators have created a new messaging app called Traces.

Traces is different.

Using a unique combination of GPS, augmented reality and peer-to-peer messaging, Traces lets you blend digital content with the world around you and share it with your friends. But there’s a twist. Your friends can only unlock messages when they’re in the right place, at the right time.

By adding the context of place and time to messaging, Traces introduces a completely new layer of meaning and creativity.

With Traces, you can hide messages in the real world for your friends to discover; add a soundtrack to your street; share private videos in public places; create a digital treasure hunt in your city.

The journey of discovery involved in receiving messages makes the content more memorable and has been shown in research to enhance feelings of wellbeing, trust and empathy between friends.

Dr. Beau Lotto said; “When you understand how the human brain processes information, you can begin to design mobile and social experiences that actually bring people closer together, increase well-being and to re-engage with the real world. Rather than a repetitive and instantly forgotten click, Traces requires the brain to embark on a process of discovery, generating dopamine and generating empathy between connections. This is a wonderful example of what we call “neurodesign”.

Traces is a living experiment.

Beau said; “Our research shows that people rate content received through Traces as better and more meaningful than the same content received through conventional messaging apps. It also increases their sense of closeness to the person or brand sending it.”

For video of real people using Traces, visit:

To request a copy of Beau and the team’s research findings, email [email protected]. All research was conducted with the informed consent of participants and in accordance with the Helsinki declaration.

Traces is currently working building relationships with a network of creative brands, agencies, artists, educators, publishers and musicians. The platform will open to commercial partners soon, allowing them to engage with audiences in completely new, location specific ways.

The Beta version of the app is available free for iOS devices in the UK App Store:

An Android version of Traces and a global launch will follow in the near future.

About Traces

Traces is a messaging app that lets you hide videos, pictures and music in the real world. Only friends in the right place at the right time can receive your message. The app was conceived by neuroscientist Beau Lotto, as an experiment to see how the principles of neurodesign can be harnessed to create more meaningful, human digital experiences. The Traces team includes leading research scientists, designers, developers and mobile innovators. Traces is privately-funded by angels on the West Coast and in the UK.

To download Traces, visit:

For research findings, video and images, please visit:

For video of real people using Traces, visit:



About Dr. Beau Lotto

Beau Lotto is a globally renowned professor of neuroscience who specialises in the biology and psychology of perception, which is at the core of complexity, well-being and innovation. His work – which has been published in two books, and over 60 papers and reviews in international journals – blurs the boundaries between neuroscience, design and the arts.

His experiential approach to communicating science has won him a wide audience through BBC TV's Horizon programme, the National Geographic Channel, three TED talks, the RSA series, G8, Google and Wired.

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