25 May 2017


Deep breath...

Are you stressed right now? The chances are that if you work a fairly demanding job, you might be. However, not many of us actually know that we are stressed, so continue our days as normal, building the stress levels until our health is at risk. Whereas other activity trackers merely keep a note of activity, the Spire tracks breathing and well-being, allowing you to see when you are stressed, and what causes that stress. Let's check it out.

The Spire is a small and attractive, pebble-like device, with a textured body and smooth metallic clip. It as been designed to be worn, rather than attached to your wrist, and so that clip is best used on a waistband or bra. It ships with a very nice wireless charging base, edged with cork, that plugs into a USB port and lets you charge up the Spire by simply placing it on top. We found a charge of just 30 minutes produced a battery life of over five days. Decent.

If you've ever used a pedometer-style tracker, the Spire will be nothing new. Clip it on, go about your day, then check out your stats in the accompanying app. However, the Spire requires a constant Bluetooth connection to your phone to work, as it tracks your breathing in real time. It's fun therefore to open the app and watch the on-screen graphic move as your chest rises and falls, but if you walk out of range from your phone, you'll loose the data.

So why track breathing? Well, the makers of Spire say that years of research have gone into working out that the way our breath has an effect on our health and also our mood. Therefore looking back over your daily data can tell you when you were breathing poorly, when your breathing was forced and laboured, and when you were clearly stressed as a result. Help and advice will then be available via the app so you can make improvements.

The Spire can also issue notifications direct to you with subtle vibrations. These can be set to indicate a few different things, such as if you've not taken a deep breath in a while, or if the device can tell that something is stressing you out. Those little buzzes often came as a surprise, as the Spire is small and light enough to forget you're wearing it.

But does it actually succeed in chilling you out? Well, yes and no. It certainly helped us to see how we breathe and at what times during the day we were stressed - most of us felt stress at around 9am, and then again around 5pm, weirdly - and so we've all tried to be a little more present at those times to find a moment to breathe and relax. However, the fact that you have a new device attached to your body, one that you can see a live-feed from on your smartphone, means it could actually end up as a distraction, potentially causing more stress.

We're not sure, but we can understand that, if you're already quite into the idea of tracking your well-being, this could be perfect. For those who manage stress in other ways, such as knackering oneself out with exercise, the Spire might be one tracker too many.


Visit spire.io/

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