Dr. Neema Moraveji is the co-founder of the company that created Spire, and he described the hardware as a "next-generation wearable." It sounded like a series of CES-friendly words rather than an actual pitch, but Moraveji explained his reasoning.
"It expands the conversations from just moving and steps, which is about the body, into the mind. It tracks your stress levels, it tracks your calm levels, it tracks focus levels. The way it does it is using years of research of Stanford University that showed breathing patterns can say a lot about your state of mind."
Here's the idea: You clip the Spire, which looks and feels like a small pebble attached to a metal clip, on your belt. When you're walking or running it tracks your steps, just like most fitness wearables.
When you're sitting, working or in traffic however, it tracks your breathing by sensing the movement of your abdomen. Let's say you're in the middle of a project, and you get a stressful phone call, the Spire will notice a shift in your breathing patterns and can warn you that your breathing has become erratic.
"You can change your breathing immediately without any training, any time, any where," Dr. Moraveji explained. "So you can be in a meeting and be getting stressed and not realize it, and Spire will vibrate a little bit on your waist and you can just take a deep breath right there and have your whole meeting change."
It’s a mindfulness tracker, in other words. You can configure it to let you know if you haven’t had a deep breath in 20 minutes, or it can let you know when it thinks you're stressed out. There is an app that goes with the hardware that offers guidance on what to do when the Spire senses your stress levels.
"It gives you the feedback in your daily life that’s easy to act upon"
"You can do things called boosts, guided experiences in the app that can help boost your state of mind," he said. The Spire will let you know you're tense and not breathing well If you're in the middle of a hard day, and you can then take a few minutes to go through one of the included boosts and work on your calm a bit. It's a system designed to alert you to stress, and give you ways of dealing with it.
"You know that yoga is good for you, you know that meditation is good for you, this helps you do it, it gives you the feedback in your daily life that’s easy to act upon," Moraveji said. "Oh, I’m not breathing, I take a breath."
It may sound almost simple, but in practice knowing when you're stressed and being aware enough to begin a breathing exercise can have an immediate and positive effect on your mental health. The Spire automates that process, and may be able to help sure you're aware of your mood and stress levels before they become overwhelming. Taking a deep breath in any stressful situation is helpful, and at the very least this hardware will remind you to do so when you do it the most.