June 18, 2014, 6:02 AM —
A few years ago I had the misfortune of being in the hospital for a few days. While you're in the hospital (in case you're fortunate enough to have never been through the experience) they monitor you pretty carefully. Every couple hours a nurse will come in to take your blood pressure and other vitals and one of those tests determines how much oxygen is in your blood. They do this by putting a device called an oximeter over the end of your finger.
Every time a nurse did this test on me, he or she would give a little frown and ask me to take a couple of deep breaths. I would do so and the frown would go away. After the first couple of days I'd pro-actively make a point of breathing deeply, thus avoiding that frown.
This is how I learned that apparently I'm a shallow breather. Once I was out of the hospital I was more aware of my breathing and found I had to remind myself to take a few deep breaths from time to time, like when I was exercising or stressed. More often than not, taking those few deep breaths would make me feel better or more energetic.
Which brings me at long last to Spire, the gadget I want to talk about today. Spire is a breathing analyzer (not to be confused with a breath analyzer that tells you when you've had too many drinks to drive). You clip it to your belt or your bra and it monitors your breathing, as well as gathering step data and tracking how much time you spend sitting or lying down.
Here's the rather new-agey intro video:
Spire pairs with your cellphone (initially iOS only but they say they're working on an Android version) and prompts you if it determines you're getting too tense (based on breathing patterns) or have been sitting still for too long. Alternatively you can set it to vibrate to remind you without requiring you to grab your phone.
The phone app will then coach you on how to address the issue it has called your attention to by asking you to take some deep breathes or maybe to get up and walk around for a few minutes.
I learned about Spire over at TechCrunch where author Josh Constine had the opportunity to try one out. The post has a quick video (one they won't let me embed) that demonstrates the device in use. The app tracks your breathing in real time, as well as telling you when you're sitting or standing (though you can probably figure that much out on your own).
Spire is available for pre-order now. It comes with a wireless charging pad and the limited early bird price is $109; it'll eventually retail for $149. I'd be really tempted, if they had the Android app ready. Until then I'll have to keep reminding myself to stop and take a few deep breaths when I'm stressed out or fatigued.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.