There are plenty of wearables that want to help you train better, harder and faster, but what happens when you train too hard? Sometimes you can overwork your body, and that can be even more dangerous than not working out at all. That's where Calm comes in, a wearable ECG sensor that can be worn via strap or gel pads that stick to your skin.
The device shares its name with the company that made it. In fact, Calm is actually a new division and brand within Eagle Matrix, a Japan-based health consulting firm that both helps Japanese manufacturers expand its business overseas and consults with the Japanese government and insurance companies on healthcare policies.
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The Calm sensor, which is currently available on Indiegogo for a special early bird price of $80 (regular price $99), wants to help you make sure you're training safe and sleeping well. It does that by using its electrocardiogram sensor in conjunction with an app, the special sauce that makes everything tick.
Steven Yhang, the lead engineer over at Calm, explains a bit about who the device is best for and how it may help people train better.
"Throughout working with the healthcare players we've realized that there are unmet needs in healthcare that can't be addressed with wearables and IoTs," he says. "Everyone is quite excited and looking into this space but there are still gaps where there is no solution at a price point that makes sense."
Calm was established to take up that challenge, and for its first product it looked inward. Since much of the team is made up of triathlon enthusiasts and athletes, they decided to aim in that direction. Plus, they realized that medical certification takes a long time in Japan, so aiming for athletes allows them to hone their craft as they work on medical applications in the background (like a device aimed at preventing heart disease).
Thanks to technological advancements and manufacturers stuffing more sensors into smaller and smaller packages, Calm realized it could make a simple sensor at an affordable price point. Enter the single-function Calm sensor. Saving time and energy on manufacturing a sensor allows Calm to completely focus on software and data analysis.
Even perfectly healthy people can suffer from irregular heartbeats, and Zhang tells us that Calm's technology is designed to look for abnormal heartbeats in two ways. Yes, it can tell when your heart skips a beat, but it can also break down which of the four steps in your heartbeat may be abnormal.
This is possible because the ECG sensor can break up your heartbeat into milliseconds, and because the device is attached directly to your chest. "On wrist heart rate monitors you can only tell if a heart beat happened, but not how it happened," Zhang says. And yes, you'll need to shave or trim your chest to properly use the Calm and its specially designed gel pads.
That same heartbeat detail can be applied to sleep, with Zhang telling us that the data allows Calm's tech to look into your mental state while sleeping. It can tell whether you're in a restful or stressful state more accurately than a wrist-based device. "Of course, the downside is that you have to wear something on your chest while you sleep," Zhang admits. He assures us, however, that the device is only 14 grams and is designed for comfort.
A worthy question, though in this case you may have to wrestle with your passions. The Calm sensor is built to be as affordable as possible, so Zhang tells us most of the crowdfunding will go toward marketing, getting through certification and app development rather than the sensor itself.
Zhang tells us one of the big goals behind the crowdfunding campaign is to get the athletic community involved. Because its parent company is more attuned to the needs of the medical industry, Calm felt it was best to strike out on its own with an Indiegogo campaign.
In that way, Calm seems like a solid bet. But do you need it? That's a different question, and one that Zhang is quick to answer. "I think for your casual fitness enthusiasts or just your average joe who's not really a competitive athlete, a Fitbit is probably enough," he says. "But if you're a competitive athlete and you need more accuracy or deeper insight into your sleep, that's where I think you'd find Calm to be a more attractive option."
The Calm sensor is set to start shipping this July to both the US and Japan, largely because Calm believes those two countries are the best markets for triathlon athletes. It'll gradually expand to other countries as certification is gained.