Remember the mood ring? For those of you who never fell prey to its clever form of chicanery, the trinket claimed to reflect the wearer’s mood by changing colors throughout the day. In reality, the ring actually measured a person’s body temperature thanks to a liquid crystal thermometer, causing the stone to change colors if it was hot or cold. Although the science behind it was dubious at best, the promise of a device that could offer more insight into our inner workings proved to be popular, albeit short-lived fad. However, with the proliferation of high-tech wearable health devices, a fully functional ‘mood ring’ may be an actual possibility.
Wearable health trackers are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, with a range of products helping users monitor how many calories they burn, how many steps they take and even how well they sleep. Now, a new project from California based Phyode called the W/Me band wants to leverage similar data sources, but with the goal of providing a more holistic picture of wellness. The goal is to help wearers get a glimpse at how physical factors affect their mood, and how to control them.
The W/Me wristband is a wearable sensor that monitors a wearer’s autonomic nervous system, which provides feedback on body activity that they may not be aware of. In order to provide a more complete view of health, the device translates the data it collects into three scores: mental state, agility, and ANS age. Mental state can be either passive, excitable, pessimistic, anxious, or ideally, balanced somewhere in the middle. The agility score measures how easily the body adapts to changes in the environment and how much stress the user is feeling. Additionally, ANS age calculates the approximate ‘age’ of the user’s nervous system, which is independent from biological age. This reading is based on breathing, stress, and other factors, which reveals how good they might be at dealing with stress over the long term.
In addition to the sensors and measurements, the W/Me wristband pairs with an iPhone app to help users make their collected data more actionable. Because breathing directly influences the ANS, the app includes a ‘breathing coach’ function so users can improve their rhythmic breathing to optimize health and decrease stress. These breathing exercises help to correct negative breathing patterns and improve overall health and mood. Additionally, all the wearer’s data is organized into a clear and understandable graphical interface, making it easy to regularly monitor.
The W/Me project differentiates itself from most activity tracking devices in that it can provide users with a complete picture of mental and physical health. With its state-of-the-art sensors and holistic approach to wellness, devices like the W/Me could represent the next wave of the quantified self movement, arming users with valuable data to take both a short and long view around personal health management.
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