The field of quantified health has been booming, with recent developments producing devices that can measure everything from your brainwaves to improve concentration, to your nervous system to analyze your mood. With 8.3 million wearable devices sold in 2012 and 64 million expected to ship by 2017, this new technology tidal wave promises to change the way we live, keeping tabs on our activity levels, calories burned, heart rates and more. But despite the range of tracking available in the marketplace already, there is one company that believes health-conscious consumers should be paying attention to another biometric pattern: breathing.
Since 2008, BreathResearch has been working on research and technology that analyzes ‘breath acoustics,’ meaning the quality of a person’s breathing, to help reduce stress, optimize athletic performance, lose weight and improve sleep. Earlier this month, as part of a health innovation challenge backed by electronics giant Philips and crowdfunding site Indiegogo, the company launched a campaign to finance a new breath-monitoring smartphone headset.
The Breath Acoustics All-in-One (A-i-O ) Headset pairs with a mobile app, and is designed to bring the same physiological data and power that elite athletes use to perform better, sleep more soundly and recover from injury or illness faster. The A-i-O headset combines acoustic and optic sensors to measure acoustic breath pattern, heart rate, pulse oximetry (how much oxygen is in the blood), altitude, location and barometric pressure data to give users a more comprehensive picture of their health and fitness status, wherever they are.
Founder and CEO Nirinjan Yee is a trained holistic medicine practitioner, and spends a good amount of time working with patients suffering from chronic pain and hypertension. This experience is what led her to believe breathing was being overlooked as a possible cause for these problems. She says:
In the medical environment, and even in the alternative medical and fitness worlds, we’re looking at a lot of stuff, like blood work, diet and exercise, but no one was looking at breathing. What I found in all the patients that I work with is that their breathing really seems compromised.
Using 10 years of data, which amounts to over 10,000 recordings of various people’s breathing, the company has translated the data into numerical values that contribute to a ‘breathing index.’ As the headset picks up a user’s breathing rate, the partner app generates a score based on this index, and provides recommendations on how to improve breathing and overall wellness.
Even though breathing is a relatively young biometric, recent studies suggest that breath analysis can detect stress levels, bacterial infections and other conditions. Further research also suggests that some breathing exercises may help alleviate stress, and even calm some of the symptoms of asthma. As a first step in this field, BreathResearch is defining new ways for the quantified health movement to progress, while empowering the general public with more ways to track and manage their overall well-being.
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