Dharma Hacker

Product review of Spire-a Quantified Self Device which measures breath to increase mindfulness

Today I am reviewing a wellness gadget / device called Spire which measures your activities like steps, walked distance, burned calories like other fitness trackers but it is very unique when tracking breath and analyzing tension, calmness and focus times.

As you can see on this pictures it comes with a beautifully designed wireless charging plate and a USB cable, also a free slot to charge another USB-device. Spire can be worn on a belt or bra. I am using it now since 3 months and quality is very high which means: bluetooth connection to the iOS App (Android is under development) is very stable, battery lasts minimum 5 days and I don’t notice it while wearing on my belt. Congratulations to the Spire time for an excellent complete redesign of the iOS-App which was launched June 28th!

Now I am going to coverage the most important usage scenarios for me:

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Measure your breath in Real Time

In the landing page of the App I can easily see how often I breath per minute. 11.5 is very relaxed and calm (until 15 BPM). “Focus” is defined as 15-19 BPM and “Tense” is > 19 BPM. Really helpful insights if I am currently in a certain situation (e.g. phone conference) and see how it changes depending on my activity (listening vs presenting), engaged vs disengaged or topic (interesting / boring)
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Get a Boost when you are feeling tense

Spire knows when you  are tense and can push a notification alert to your smartphone (if you want) and recommend an exercise. This can be a calmness or meditation exercise around breathing (from well-known teachers like Deepak Chopra and Thich Nhat Hanh) or freshness and productivity booster for work.  I have tried all exercise and really enjoyed the style. Very nice voices, short exercises which are easy to integrate into everyday life (around 3 minutes) and they bring me directly back into calmness and  more mindful and present state.

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History of your week: Breathing and Activity Pattern

Spire App also offers a weekly review where you can see how calm, focused and tense you were. Easily it can be switched between activity and breath. That certain Wednesday was a successful working day because I wasn`t stressed, had more than 1 hour of calmness and relaxation and more than 2 hours of full focus time.

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I can also drill down and find out where I was in a tense state. So yesterday for example I had a tense situation at 5:57pm at our Kindergarten Festival. It started to rain and I was in a rush helping to move kids and stuff inside.

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Summary

Spire is an excellent gadget for Quantified Self of measuring calmness (should I rather say: Quantified Selflessness?), focus time and tension additional to activity tracking of steps and distances. 129.95 US$ are not too much because it is currently the only device in this price range and market segment which can track your breath. Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab.  was involved in the R&D of this beautiful product. I find it very useful if you really change your daily habits and that is the most difficult thing: wear Spire everyday and make the exercise without skipping if the alert notification pops up. Exercises are great and helpful but it is is so easy to agree to its effectiveness without doing it. The magic is not inside the device, it is in your daily practise and your personal way to become more mindful and know what is good for you and not. It can help to discover patterns of chronical stress that you were not aware of. That is maybe the most important use case.

If you understand German, you also might want to watch my son`s review on Youtube

 

 

Dharma Hacker

Review of Jiyo-a Wellness Wellbeing Mobile App by Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra, a well known and leading figure in the meditation and alternative health movement, has launched on June 12th together with his his co-founder Poonacha Machaiah a new service called Jiyo.

This wellness services is focused on a mobile App experience (iOS, Android) and also works fine in a browser. It collects a lot of data from sensors and content sources like Apple Health, Fitbit, Moves, Jawbone Up, HeartCloud and Google Fit

Jiyo wants to prevent intensive typing. You can easily share the lessons you have done on Twitter and Facebook, adding your own comments, experiences or/and photos. You can interact with other members (freemium or premium) but it`s a difficult to search for people because it does not search through your address book, Facebook or Twitter account. So currently I still have zero followers and no interactions or motivations from a peer group as you can see in my profile.  It also shows that I have done these two exercises around breathing which I found really helpful, easy to do (less than 3 minutes) and great inspiration to do something in your daily habits (before you dive into your dreams or start your working day)

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As you can see here a number of different kind of exercises are available. Quality of the content (videos, photos, inspirational ideas) is very high and I found every single one useful and could recommend it.  There is so much more content in the premium channels which I haven`t purchased yet (1,99 US$/month).

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Here you get a short impression of the varity in the premium Jiyo+ Channels, currently counting 24 channels.

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So how does a Jiyo landing page in the Browser look like? Here you can see that you see a summary of your own activities like average number of steps this month or hours you slept combined with content. I have not spoken to other Jiyo Users yet but it`s possible that the content / exercises in my Jiyo are customized for me because it knows my gender, age and activity patterns.

 

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Here is one notification about a sport exercise which I have received on my mobile app and found very useful. It`s a stretch exercise with your bike which opens chakras.

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First summary:

I am very impressed about the excellent usability and user interface of the mobile App. It is so focused on exercises which are easy to do and achieve, integration into daily habits and routines shouldn`t be an issue. Notifications on my mobile help not to forget that this App is existing (yes, that already happened to other meditation Apps I have installed).

I really love the idea of integrating usage data from other activity and wellness trackers and get tailorized content. That`s an extra value I would pay for and I am close to subscribe to Jiyo+ – and write a second blogpost. I would also allow Jiyo to access my breathing patterns and history from Spire.

Finally I want to close with this remarkable and beautiful quote from Deepak Chopra why he actually built Jiyo. Nothing to add:

“I’ve always had this idea, I don’t know why, but the idea was that if I could reach a billion people and help them personally transform, we would have social transformation. Because society is a function of a critical mass of people with similar intent. If I want a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier and happier world, then we have to be the change we want to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi said.”

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — Pablo Picasso
Sense Making

Find and share your gift by working out loud #wolweek 2016

This is the first day of this year`s Working Out Loud Week #wolweek and Simon Terry has recommended to reflect about PURPOSE.

First I was contemplating about the term “purpose” and what it exactly means in German. Is it more about intention, a goal, aim, only a task or it more about a higher meaningful purposeful goal with significant core values which makes the world a better place? Well, I guess this question exactly triggers the right aspect and to starts my and your own journey (‘The way is the goal’ — Confucius)  into a purposeful (work) life where I am first discovering my own gift:

  • my talents and skills: am I using them to help others?
  • my  (working) time: how should I prioritize my time?
  • my power and influence: How I could I have a larger positive impact on the life of others?

I have made the experience that joining a Working Out Loud Circle as described by John Stepper is really helpful to discover my own gifts because of this impressive feedback culture which should exist in every great circle. A circle is a protected and confidential space (video conference or on-site meetup) where a group of people meet every week for 12 weeks to reach their goals. Using public social media channels is part of the exercises but not an isolated goal without a senseful meaning behind it.

Working Out Loud is not a wild and uncoordinated broadcasting of news or random (personal) information. That is what I hear a lot as major concern: “Why should I want to read that others are currently eating a cookie?”

For me it is a learning space with very concrete purposes: helping other people and organisations to achieve more. That is the main focus. It`s all about supporting others and reaching own goals is a secondary gain.

I have modified the famous quote from Pablo Picasso: The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — Pablo Picasso
Find your gift, share your gift
Dharma Hacker

Meditate and measure your Brainwaves: Review of Neurosky MindWave

My first blogpost here at Innerventures is about a review of a Brainwave measuring gadget which I use for my meditation practise: MindWave Mobile: Brainwave Starter Kit.
I bought it online for around 99€, using it since over a year now and want to share a summary of the use cases I experimented with. This headset connects via Bluetooth to your Android or iOS Smartphone or tablet, it also supports Windows PC and MacOS. Pretty easy to use: you just put it on top of your head, switch it on, pair it with Bluetooth and connect one part with your earlobe. Fits to adults and kids and is not uncomfortable.

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Measure your brainwaves
Even if you are not very interested to use this device to measure, control and analyze your meditation sessions, it is very easy to use to get more insights into your brainwaves and activities in your mind. I really enjoy to use apps like “Brainwave Visualizer” (Link to iOS,Android, Windows, MacOS) to see how my brainwaves are changing when working, thinking, calculating, reading, listening to different styles of music, power napping and much more). Data can be exported to e.g. Dropbox in case you don’t want to watch the App while practising.1

Gamification
Kids are usually not interested in technical or neurological data from brainwaves but yes, they always like games. There are many apps on the market where you usually have to lift up a piece or animal like a bird within a cage in this example screenshot. This certain game does not trigger the bird if you are meditating, here you need to focus and concentrate which are very different brainwaves. Other apps which are commercial are bit more complex and have better graphics. Mindhunter for example has got three kinds of weapons: the slingshot, crossbow, and shotgun. To use the slingshot, the attention value should be above 90 to lock the target. Using the crossbow, the attention value should be above 80. Using the shotgun, the attention value should be above 65.

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Coaching, Productivity & Wellness

Especially ZenZone offers many apps which help you  to be more focused, healthier,  less stressed, relaxed, productive or learn better by giving you an audio guide while meditating. I haven’t purchased these apps, just listened a few times to their free version but cannot talk about the value here in detail. Let me know in your comments in this blog if you have made experiences

Meditation
Yes, that is my favourite use case! I use it a lot while meditating and the App offers these features which are really helpful

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  • Zen Bell rings when time is over
  • Start a meditation and set a countdown (e.g. 20 minutes)
  • Measure your brainwaves in the meantime (in a different view you can also see which kind of brainwaves are actives, so you see more than Dezibel like in the left screenshot of my brain)
  • A growing green plant in the apps displays progress
  • A diary journey keeps track of your meditations
  • Recommendations how to use it
  • Last but not least the best: A voice tells you when you are attached to your thoughts and says “Come back to your present moment and see how you breath in and out”.That is amazing and my number one reason to use this headset! It really helps me to come back into the deep meditation state while meditating.