Spotlight: The Spire Stone
Science is now connecting our external and internal worlds in ways we couldn’t do or even understand 100 years ago. We have evolved from using kitschy mood rings and carnival mood meters to having real tech to understand what’s going on inside our bodies on an intellectual, emotional, and even molecular level. With new gadgets that allow us to get a read on ourselves quickly, it’s easy to get swept up in the possibilities for maximizing sports performance, for preventing injuries, for being proactive about health decisions, even for deciding when to bring up an idea to your boss or spouse based upon their mood. As I write this book, I am keenly aware that the timestamp of publication will be dated by a proliferation of new tech, as there has already been a 44 percent increase in the number of wearables in the market in the last year. Rather than resist the onslaught, indulge with me for a moment to imagine what it would be like to quickly discover the answer the following questions: Is your stress reaching critical levels? Are you drinking enough water? Did you forget to breathe? What’s in your sweat? What are you feeling?
In the process of writing my upcoming book The Future of Happiness, I have had the opportunity to test drive a number of new technologies aimed at increasing well-being. I have literally gotten my skin in the game, with wearables on my hip, lapel, wrist, and back. My nightstand has turned into a docking station that looks a bit like Niagara Falls, with devices spilling over into a cascade of cords and wires.
This is perhaps not your vision of a happy coexistence with technology in the future, nor is it mine. My goal is not to drown myself in technology (despite appearances), but rather to try out as many of these wearables to help you find the very best ones. Wearables are expensive and often created for discrete purposes. Some are meant as short-term training aids, while others are designed to create lifelong habits. Some play nice with your other devices, and others add yet another layer of information capture into your life. So which wearables are worth the investment?
Over the next few months, I will be highlighting some of my favorite wearables, but today I want to share with you my all-time favorite to date. Meet the Spire Mind and Body Tracker, a wearable device that can be clipped to your pants or bra to help you monitor your respiration and in turn, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and increase the flow of endorphins in your blood stream. The Spire uses your breathing patterns to figure out when you are tense, calm, or focused, and provides gentle notifications to guide you when you need it most. As the Spire website explains, “Your state of mind affects how you breathe. But how you breathe can also change your state of mind.”
Why do I love this wearable so much? There’s a few reasons. From the sleek, earth-friendly design to the comfortable soft stone clip to the super simple charging station, the Spire blends into its environment in such a harmonious way that you forget it’s there. Until you need it. Like that time when I recently walked into my business school reunion, and my iWatch gently tapped me with a notification that I seemed a bit tense. At first, I was surprised…and then annoyed…and then…I remembered to breathe. I had unknowingly been holding my breath and it was making me feel anxious. By being brought back to the present, I could collect myself, take a deep breath, and walk in calmly and confidently to enjoy myself and my colleagues.
This wearable might not be for everyone, but for those individuals like myself who are prone to stress and anxiety, this wearable became an invaluable source of insight and training. Using research from Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab, the Spire stone helps you to understand when you’re stressed, where it happens, and what you were doing. I can now track my breath patterns in real time, practice guided meditation within the app, and see how much time I spent each day in periods of calm, tension, or focus (I was shocked to see that I had approximately 4 minutes of focus in my first 24-hour period, which I totally attribute to mommy brain in the summer. The optimist in me decided I had lots of room for improvement). After four months, this is the only wearable that I consistently wear because I feel like it is truly helping me to grow on a fundamental level. The only downside of the Spire is the price ($129.95), but my hope is that this price will go down with time so that more individuals have access to this technology. In the meantime, you can always enter their monthly giveaway for a free Spire—just don’t hold your breath!
User interface: A+