State of Mind Feedback
Arriving with the claim of being the first wearable device that tracks both physical movement and state of mind issues, Spire is a small device that has been designed to help reduce stress in the wearer by increasing calm and focus while reducing tension. I have been road-testing, actually more chair-testing as I will explain later, the company’s Spire Stone product as it checks out how I have been spending my time during the day. I should point out that the Stone designation is because that what the device actually looks like – a stone.
Spire was founded by Jonathan Pulley and Neema Moraveji, Ph.D, in 2013. Headquartered in San Francisco, Spire is backed by investors that include Rock Health, Stanford University and YCombinator. The product is based on research conducted at Stanford University.
Unlike the majority of tracker devices that I have seen which tend to come in the form of a band which wraps around the wrist, the Spire is a small stone shaped device which can be clipped to a belt, trousers or bra. The stone element, which contains all the product’s functionality, is firmly moulded onto a metal clip so that the unit can be positioned against the wearer’s body. Fortunately there is no need to place the Spire next to the skin as long as it is facing the body and can receive the data it requires.
Prior to using the Spire Stone, the device will need to be charged. To this end, you are provided with a circular charging platform which connects to a power source via a standard-to-micro USB lead. With the stone element resting in the central area of the platform, the charging process can take up to two hours for an estimated one week of use. A blue/green light will pulse during the process.
Once the pulsing stops, charging is complete. You can also charge the device from a smartphone by connecting the USB lead to a USB 3.0 port that sits alongside the micro port. A double finger tap on the stone will cause its light to blink up to four times to indicate the level of power left in the device.
The Spire Stone contains sensors to check on breathing patterns, respiration rates, steps covered and the intake of calories. The combination of these facilities is meant to help the wearer engender a feeling of calm while reducing tension, increasing focus and tracking activity issues. The detected speed of breathing can be used to measure calmness and any tension plus whether the wearer is undergoing moments of intense concentration. In my case, the Spire Stone had to deal with a situation where I was providing long sessions of lap comfort for my cat who had recently been released from hospital following two major bouts of surgery on his stomach,
The feedback from the sensors and related issues is delivered to the wearer via an app which can be downloaded and installed from the App or Play Stores. As the Spire Stone was originally developed to be compatible with devices such as the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone families, I was not surprised to discover that the iOS version of the app offered extra functionality including setting up Push notifications. Both apps asked for details regarding the wearer’s sex, weight, height and date of birth during the initial setting up process.
When you fire up the app, you will be placed at the Home screen showing your breathe line running across the screen in real time. The background view of the landscape will change to reflect your emotional state as to whether you are calm, tense, relaxed or whatever. The Spire Stone is also meant to emit vibrations to signal various states But I found that I was only able to detect these vibrations when holding the Spire Stone in my hand rather than when attached to my clothing. On a couple of occasions my smartphone struggled to connect to the Spite Stone and would only do so after I have disconnected the link and then re-established it.
An upward swipe of the screen will put you in Discovery mode as you check on Breath and Activity feedback on a daily basis. On one occasion I noted that the Breath page claimed I was more tense than usual during the period when I was writing this review. An option is available to zoom into particular moments. For instance during one two-minute period my breath rate was measured at 24bpm and was considered erratic. These moments can be linked to specific locations and be integrated with your photos.
A headphone icon in the lower right corner of the Home screen will bring you to the Boost section of the app. This is where you can listen to advice regarding certain topics. You can check out narratives on subjects such as Love, Eat, Work, Rest, Calm and Reduce Tension amongst others. Although well intended the advice given might have the opposite effect to which it was intended. A Settings icon, sitting in the top right corner of the Home screen, will open up adjustable options that cover topics such as Activity Goals, Integrations, Notifications and your personal Profile.
The Spire Stone is certainly a tracker with a different outlook as to its purpose than other devices. It is more concerned with your mental rather than physical state although it does not totally ignore the physical side of your health. According to the information I have received, the Spire Stone will be available exclusively across Europe from Apple Stores at a special holiday price of £99.95.
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