Carly Simmons

Spitmus: Saliva and Mental Wellness


Spitmus Saliva Test Kit

Establishing agency for mental health inpatients to track and understand their health progress without testing laboratories, and creating a tool for fostering independent wellness tools.

Type: Industrial Design

Context: Mental Health, Medicine, Sustainability

Guidance: Claire Hartten, Kate Bakewell, and Sean Brennan



Spitmus is a personal saliva test kit designed for mental health inpatients that is as easy to use as a contact case. The device explores the "mind-gut" connection by offering opportunities to sample saliva at multiple times throughout the day (morning, noon, evening, and night) by depositing samples directly into the device. When saliva and litmus paper make contact, the litmus paper changes color based on the acidity or basicity of the patient's saliva. Visual data and interaction gives inpatients agency about their personal health progress and an opportunity to reflect on parts of their day when stress tends to rise or fall.


Use Case: 

The device is as easy to use as a contact lens case. First, the user uncaps a single reservoir and insert a litmus paper tab into the small opening below the cap. Using the mouthpiece, the patient/user places there mouth on the device and spits. The saliva makes contact with litmus paper and slowly seeps through until the sample is deposited completely. The litmus paper will detect the acidity in the saliva and change color. Dark reds denote high levels of cortisol (stress hormone), while yellow tones represent low levels of cortisol.


Research & Insights:  

Saliva is a great indicator of cortisol levels (stress), which makes saliva testing as a practice quite popular for fertility and hormone specialists. Stress levels can help us interpret mental illness and connect us to potential solutions, and samples are easy to collect than those of blood, urine, and feces. However, the physical results of the testing, can be confusing for patients to read.

Spitmus makes detecting cortisol levels throughout the day comprehendible by introducing color to the process. 

Most importantly, the device gives inpatients an more digestible overview on their stress levels without waiting for medical results to arrive in the mail, which can take weeks. Spitmus supplies immediate results that can start to change behaviors that day.


Systems Design:


Process & Prototyping: