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Friday, December 2, 2016

Listen to your heart to learn how to detect and control natural stress levels

If you don’t have the time and money to travel to the Himalayas so you can train with monks to control your breathing and heart rate, here’s a wearable device that promises to teach the same skills. The Lief Smart Patch works with a smartphone app to measure heart rate variability (HRV), an indicator of the onset or presence of stress.

According to Lief Therapeutics, HRV is a biomarker for both physical and psychological health. A low HRV score indicates anxiety, distraction, and poor performance while a high HRV indicates a calm, focused state. The Lief Smart Patch, which adheres to your chest with replaceable adhesive stickers, is placed just under your left breast, where it measures heart rate, heart rate variability, and breathing. The patch is 6mm thin (just under a quarter-inch) and can be worn all day under your clothing. When the device senses a preset target heartbeat variability level, it vibrates silently as an alert for you to begin using the exercises you’ve learned to control your stress.

More: Got five minutes? That’s all this app needs to help rid you of stress

Four 3-minute biofeedback training tools can help you learn to calm yourself when you are alerted to imminent stress response. The exercises teach deep breathing, relaxation, and conscious control of your heart rate.

The Lief Smart Patch is made of medical-grade hypoallergenic silicon, and has two ECG sensors and two haptic “engines” that vibrate to let you know when stress is coming on. A micro USB charging port is used for a one-hour charge that lasts for up to a week’s use. The skin patch can hold a week’s worth of data and syncs with a smartphone via Bluetooth. According to the Lief’s founders, their device is 250 times more accurate than wristband heart rate monitors.

The Lief Smart Kit is currently in a Kickstarter campaign, with a $50,000 goal to fund production tooling to produce the devices in quantity. With 39 days left, the campaign had $46,873 in pledges from 237 backers at the time of this article. The list price will be $299 upon the launch of the Lief Smart Patch, which is scheduled for June 2017.  There are still $179 Early Bird opportunities.

A key to managing stress is detecting it early, before it gets out of control. The promise of the Lief Smart Patch is that it can provide alerts so you can take action to prevent stress from increasing.

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