In the fast-paced Bay Area, where life has gotten so expensive, commutes seem to last a lifetime and smartphones blur the boundaries between work and life, who doesn’t feel a little anxious and stressed?
Smartphones are not going away, but some scientists here have found way to take the technology to help chill us out.
It’s a new type of wearable technology called Spire.
“It actually helps you feel better,” said Spire’s co-inventor and Stanford professor Neema Moraveji.
The stone-like device is like a FitBit for the mind. Clip it on your belt or bra, and the sensor can detect when you’re becoming stressed, calm or focused. It does this by watching every breath you take.
“For example when you’re stressed, your breathing changes; when you’re calm, your breathing changes,” explained Moraveji.
Moraveji wants to encourage the whole world to take a deep breath. He said there is lots of good science to show how controlling your breathing is an excellent way to lower your stress, and lower you anxiety.
“There’s been a lot of laboratory studies that have looked at controlling your breathing as a way to lower stress, and lower anxiety,” he said.
Moravegi is also Director of Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab.
“There’s actually a lot of deep science there. When you take a deep breath, the entire state of your brain changes. Your heart rate slows down your blood pressure changes. That’s why breathing is so powerful and so useful from a feedback perspective.” he explained.
Peter Kazanjy of San Francisco likes the idea. “It’s sort of lie a personal meditation coach or a mindfulness coach where it’s always with you,” said Kazanjy.
Kazanjy is a software entrepreneur who read about Spire on a technology blog and decided to give it a whirl.
He said the device lets him know when to take a deep breath.
“That by far is the most important thing for me because it helps snaps me out of situations that otherwise would not be productive for me,” explained Kazanjy.
The device also syncs up your breathing data to your smartphone in real time. You can watch yourself breathe, and that kind of feedback has helped to teach Kazanjy how to relax and stay focused.
“All of a sudden, you actually start reducing the number of instances you’re tense,” he said.
Spire also knows when you’re up and moving If you sit for too long, you can also program it to push a message to you and tell you to stretch your legs and take a walk.
It costs about $150, and can hold a charge for up to a week.