Our bodies are equipped with an extraordinary built-in mechanism to improve focus, emotional stability, and health: breathing. But the rush of everyday life keeps us under constant duress and we forget to take the long, deep breaths that help the body keep itself calm.
“Breath is the primary physiological function influencing your brain and state of mind. Why? Your brain is incredibly sensitive to internal levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide,” explains Neema Moraveji, Director of Stanford’s Calming Technology Lab. To bring his research mainstream, he and co-founder Jonathan Palley have designed a waist-based wearable, the Spire, that can monitor breathing patterns throughout the day and train users to take deep breaths.
The Spire is paired with an app that teachers users how to take deep diaphragmatic breaths (that expand the belly, not the chest). As users take a deep breath, they see a glowing white orb expand; it shrinks as they exhale. A game of colors and points helps users hone the practice of mindful breathing.
I got an early trial of the Spire and found the graphics both intuitive and useful. The waist-clip itself is hardly noticeable and can even work with athletes who want to improve their breathing while running. The Spire automatically detects sitting, walking, and running and modifies its recommendations accordingly.
But I like the Spire most for going where the Fitbit and others haven’t: immediate and automatic alerts to influence behavior. The Spire runs in the background; so as soon as you get stressed, your phone buzzes and walks you through a calming exercise.
This simple feature makes it far more valuable than most pedometers, because it can improve both mind and body without you having to be aware of your own behavior.
Spire will ship in September for $150 and is available at a discount on pre-order. You can learn more here.