In the middle of a meeting, if your smart bracelet notifies you that you are becoming stressed, will you stop to do a breathing exercise? The folks behind Sona, a fashionable new smart bracelet developed for lowering stress levels, think that maybe you should. We all live busy lives, full of deadlines and rushing to appointments. Usually, the only time we are conscious of our breathing is during the one-off yoga class. But if you wore a piece of tech that reads your heart rate and tracks your activity to sense your overall health and wellbeing, and if it told you to chill out and do some guided meditation, would you listen? Most of the time we already know when we’re stressed out. Caeden, a one-year-old company best known for designing stylish headphones, believes that with their new product, they can not only track your health more exactly but teach you how to improve it.
Sensors on the underside of the bracelet will track your steps and activity to help you reach fitness goals, but it also reads your Heart Rate Variability (HRV). This is a more complex metric then the average BPM offered by other connective wearables. As Caeden states in their description, the HRV takes precise measurements in order to “record the exact variation in timing of each successive heartbeat peak.”
Caeden says that possessing higher HRV is better, as it demonstrates that your body is more adaptable to change. A lower HRV is found when a person's is attempting to heal itself — a condition brought on by working out too much, not get enough sleep or simple being stressed. HRV’s link to stress, anxiety, and performance has been studied since the 1960s on a myriad of people including Russian cosmonauts, sufferers from asthma, and athletes.
To combat a low HRV, the bracelet links to the Resonance app. Controlling your HRV through resonant breathing is meant to help fight chronic stress and balance to the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Resonant breathing is slow, deep, and relaxed abdominal breathing, between three and seven breaths per minute (or an average of five and a half). You perform this while watching a live graph showing your heart rate pattern.
However, if early reviews are any indication, the jury is still out on whether the bracelet is effective. Stephanie M. Lee, testing Sona for BuzzFeed News, said, “During a test-run with a prototype Sona, I struggled to breathe as slowly as the app wanted me to — apparently I was stressed out that day — and while I can’t say I was instantly filled with zen, the experience did help me realize how often my breaths were short and jagged instead of full.”
Brian X. Chen, who tested the bracelet for the New York Times, also reported being stressed. “While doing breathing exercises, my graph showed I maintained a steady, mellow heart-rate pattern, though my heart rate appeared to fluctuate, indicating stress, when I noticed a woman at a cafe watching me test the pink version of the bracelet.”
Like most tech these days, this sleek connective wearable seems to be targeted at the young professional. What keeps this from being just another disposable gadget promising to fix our modern problems? Depends if you actually commit to using it. As Caeden says on their website their goal is to help "modern, driven individuals approach their goals with greater calm and focus." If you are a modern professional and find yourself in need of some Zen, you can pre-order the Sona Smart Bracelet for $129 through December 1.