Editor’s note: Wearables.com is excited to introduce the Startup Spotlight, where we’ll interview the creative people behind innovative, novel ideas in the wearables world. To kick off the series, we’re beginning with Prana out of San Fransisco.
Activity trackers keep tabs on what you do when you’re moving, while sleep trackers monitor your rest (or lack thereof) come nightfall. But what about all of that time spent not really doing anything?
Most likely, you’re sitting for hours on end, and the cofounders of Prana wish not to wile that time away. They believe so deeply in the interconnectivity of breath and posture that they spent two years developing technology to take a holistic look at how those factors affect health.
Prana is the only wearable so far that “can detect diaphragmatic breathing, breath patterns, and simultaneously evaluate posture.” Prana utilizes a small sensor case worn on the waist area that takes into account the effects of posture on breathing and differentiates between types of breaths. It’s powered by three accelerometers and communicates with its app on the user’s smartphone via a low-energy bluetooth connection.
Cofounders Andre Persidsky, Dr. Paul Abrahamson and Alex Ahlunh have what Persidsky tells Wearables.com is “a combined 40 years of interest and experience in meditation and yoga.” In fact, Persidsky was on a meditation retreat when the idea struck him for an activity tracker that went beyond calories and steps and towards internal health. For years, after all, countless studies have proven breath and posture essential to good health and the management of sleep disorders, anxiety, immunity, blood pressure, chronic pain, depression, ADHD, asthma and more.
“Most activity trackers don’t do much other than ping us to get up, which is great,” explains Persidsky. “But most people are sitting six hours a day in their chair, which is much longer than they are standing or walking. People need to improve or maximize the quality of their sitting time.”
To teach proper breathing techniques, the Prana wearable can be viewed two ways: Clinical Mode or Game Mode. Prana Medical Mode offers full data analytics for each breath, tracking 10 distinct stats plus posture. Prana Game Mode is a user-friendly way to train breath. The user inhales, exhales and holds breath to follow the pattern of flowers on-screen while avoiding obstacles.
It can also passively track your habits; while wearing Prana throughout the day, the device will notify you when your posture is poor by sending you a slight buzz and message on your phone to sit upright, take a big belly breath and re-focus on your body.
Essential to the Prana experience are short training videos and “an extensive library of breathing exercises and techniques from traditions from all around the world, including Yoga Pranayama, Tai Chi, and Buteyko, intuitively organized by time of day or intended effect, such as Wake Up or De-Stress.”
Prana currently raising funds on Kickstarter with just a few weeks to go. If funded by April 30th, devices will ship in July. If not, you’ll have to tune into your own body on your own — which is much harder than it sounds. Says Persidsky, “I don’t want to sound like it’s a cure-all for everything, but you have to breathe to live.”