How’s your breathing? It may not be something you often think about, but breathing is a vital part of overall health and well-being. A peer-reviewed study by researchers at Italy’s University of Pisa and Belgium’s University of Liège found what many of us understand intrinsically; the way we breathe affects both physical and psychological health. Breath control and slow breathing techniques promote good heart and respiratory health and have considerable psychological effects. With the right breathing, feelings of anxiety, depression, and anger can decrease while feelings of comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, and vigor increase.
One wearable may put you on the path to better breathing. A breath-monitoring smart device, Oxa, shows users how to breathe better by collecting data and feedback about breath and vital signs. With a combination of a wearable shirt or bra, sensors, and an app, Oxa provides biofeedback data to help users take control of their breathing to relieve stress and improve sleep. Four sensors collect the data: respiratory inductance plethysmography (breath), electrocardiography (heart), infrared sensing (temperature), and an accelerometer (movement).
The Oxa app uses gamification; it gives rewards and guides users through breathing exercises with visual and musical feedback. These exercises, which are between 5 and 15 minutes long, promote focus, calmness, vitality, resilience, and rest. It’s also got a Calmness Score that uses heart rate, breathing rate, and heart rate variability to show how calm the user’s mind and body are on a scale of 1 to 10. Users can see this score in real time and adjust their breathing exercises accordingly. Oxa’s data also displays in Google Fit, Strava, and Apple’s health apps.
Oxa plans to release sleep preparation and sleep monitoring features — designed to address sleep apnea and snoring — by mid-2023. So who can get Oxa? While initially targeted at institutions, they sell directly to consumers on their website. And although the Zurich-based startup only launched in 2022, Oxa’s parent company, Nanoleq, is a well-established maker of flexible sensors and smart garments.