Why does everything have to live on the wrist? That's what Opter Life thought when it planned the Pose tracker, on Kickstarter now for $99 - though that's not what it initially set out to do. Instead, CEO Chalisa Prarasri and her team wanted to create a health-based ecosystem of products that went from the wearable world to the smart home. It decided to start with a smart toothbrush, Prarasri tells Wareable.
"Initially we were building a smart toothbrush actually and we kind of uber simplified it until it was basically an accelerometer on a stick," she says. "And then we realized that nobody cares about that product, but we already built that tech."
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What to do with really small tech that had smart battery life? Put it in a wearable, of course. The company decided to adapt the tech for a neck-based posture tracker, but as they were developing Prarasri says she got thinking about ways to improve upon wearables, turning them into something she'd actually want to wear.
The Pose was the solution, packing in a UV sensor and blue light sensor next to the aforementioned accelerometer in a bamboo-wrapped package. That design was meant to give it a more organic and modern feel when compared to the more metal-based, and tech-y, wearable products out there.
When you start up the Pose's companion app, it allows you to take an optional questionnaire. It's here that you'll be able to enter information about your health, like your skin tone and family skin cancer history, so that Opter's recommendation engine can help guide you. That recommendation engine, by the way, is built in collaboration with doctors from Johns Hopkins University, Prarasri says. "Our health recommendations are actually doctor approved, so we're not just making it up."
The three major features are posture, UV sensing and sleep tracking. There's also some activity tracking, but those are really the big, standout features here. The posture tracker uses the angle of your chest to track your posture, which you can calibrate yourself whenever you need (if you just want to do it once, that's cool, but Prarasri says you can also calibrate it based on whether your posture is different when you're sitting or standing). It'll vibrate to tell you that you need to sit, or stand, up straight.
Meanwhile the UV tracking uses the sensor to detect rays, but it also uses weather information to get a read on the UV index to improve accuracy. Based on the skin-based information you gave it during the setup process, the Opter Pose can issue recommendations on how long you should stay out in the sun - and even tell you when you've had enough.
And finally, there's sleep tracking. The Pose uses a blue light sensor to track how much blue light you're being exposed to throughout the day, not just when you're at home or when you're in the room you sleep in.
"We're watching the amount of light you're get throughout the day," Prarasri says, noting that the Pose can use that information to issue sleep recommendations. "If you're getting too little [blue light] in the morning, that could make it harder for you to sleep later. Also, it'll make you sleepy later in the afternoon and decrease your productivity. So we'll let you know if you should turn the lights off at night."
So if you're getting too much blue light the Pose will tell you to turn off the lights and get your body better ready for sleep. That's because, as we've seen other tech companies like Lys explain, blue light can alter your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to go to sleep. By the way, Opter has partnered with a sleep disorder specialist to craft those light-based recommendations.
We've seen companies jump into sleep tracking in big ways the past couple of years, however most of them have focused on telling you how long you've spent in light, deep and REM sleep, like Fitbit has. Prarasri, who studied neuroscience and circadian rhythms, argues that information isn't too helpful. Tracking blue light, she argues, enables Opter to give you behavior recommendations that can help you figure out "what can you actually do to improve your sleep habits."
Opter also understands that people might not be comfortable wearing a necklace to bed, but it also argues that those same people might not wear a tracker to bed either. Regardless, Prarasri says users can still take off the Pose before bed and still get the benefits of sleep tracking, because it's tracking blue light via a sensor, not relying on your movement and heart rate while you sleep.
So, why not just pack all this on a wrist-based sensor? Tracking accuracy, Prarasri explains. For sensing UV rays, it's better to get the son hitting you dead-on. And finally, blue light only matters when it's entering your eyes.
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Despite the Pose being on Kickstarter, Opter is still after its goal of a health-based ecosystem. It hopes to build a suite of products that work together and tell you things that can try to improve your wellbeing.
"The next product we want to come out with is a thing that you stick to any water bottle and it turns it into a smart water bottle, and that tracks how much water you drink," Prarasri says. "That information, if you also have the Pose, we can put with your exercise information and then help it determine how much water you need to drink based on your activity."
A question that'll keep you up for millennia. The interesting thing to note about Opter is that it's not actually asking for a lot of money in its Kickstarter campaign. It's asking for $15,000, and it's already got just over $24,000. Prarasri says all of this money is going toward manufacturing, as all of the product and app development is done.
The company also has engineers who have worked for companies like Boeing, Adobe and Northrop Grumman. Its chief design officer has about 20 years of supply chain experience too, which Prarasri says will help the company deliver the product in March 2018. By the way, that date is a conservative date set two months after they hope to actually ship. It's the old under-promise and over-deliver routne.
The Pose has some good ideas about health tracking. It's not trying to go for the heart-based metrics everyone else is gunning for right now. Instead, it has a larger focus on more environment-based hazards. It wants to try to help you avoid the sun, get better sleep and sit up straight. If those are metrics that are important for you and your health, it's hard not to recommend backing Opter.