Tech for your connected self

Spire Health Tag first look: Keeping calm with the invisible wearable

We stick on one of Spire's new stress and activity tracking tags

Spire, the company behind the wearable that wanted to keep you calm, is back with the Health Tag. It's a wearable that sticks onto your clothes and aims to help you sleep better, de-stress during the day and keeps an eye on your daily activity.

The stick-on Spire Health Tag is available now in packs of 3 ($99), 8 ($199) and 15 ($299) with the idea that you can hide them away in the waistband of your underwear or in your bra or gym gear. There's also a Spire+ program gives you unlimited free Health Tags for a $10 monthly fee.

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The tags are waterproof so can survive a spin in the wash if you forget to take one off. Each Tag also delivers 1.5 years worth of battery life, so there's no need to worry about charging.

We got our hands on an 8-pack of Health Tags and while we are continuing to throughly test them before giving you our full verdict, here are some thoughts so far.

Spire Health Tag: Design and features

Spire Health Tag first look: Keeping calm with the invisible wearable

It's fair to say that the Health Tag doesn't look like any other wearable we've had our hands on. It's a massive departure from the Spire Stone, that's for sure. There's nothing sleek, attractive or really desirable about it. But then that's not a problem here when it's going to be hidden away.

It's about the same size as a band-aid or a raffle ticket with a soft, felt-like material that covers the tracking sensors beneath. On the other side is the white plastic that conceals the adhesive part that sticks the tracker to your clothes. The idea is that you place the tag on clothes that you wear most. So we're talking underwear, bras or your PJs (for the sleep tracking). This makes it all the more reason to buy Tags in multiple packs unless you're planning to wear the same underwear everyday. As we mentioned, these Tags are waterproof so there's no need to remove them until the batteries run out.

Spire Health Tag first look: Keeping calm with the invisible wearable

Spire's CEO Jonathan Palley told us that with the company's latest wearable it wanted to solve "the user experience problem we've always believed existed for health monitoring wearables". That problem was to do tracking discreetly, and you can certainly do that with this device. We've been wearing the Tags inside the waistband of our boxer shorts and so far there's no signs of discomfort or irritation. Crucially, it's not fallen off either. But again, there's still time for that to happen.

So what does the Health Tags actually pack to track your data? Spire has included a range of sensors including its own proprietary respiratory sensors that measure your breathing, giving you a better understanding about your stress levels in real-time. It also squeezes in sensors to track sleep, heart rate and heart rate variability. The Tags can also automatically detect workouts tracking calories, steps and heart rate.

Spire Health Tag: Set up and getting to know the app

Spire Health Tag first look: Keeping calm with the invisible wearable

Before you stick those Tags onto your clothes you need to get them paired with the companion smartphone app, which is currently iOS-only (sorry Android peeps). The good thing about this pairing setup is that if you have multiple Tags, you only need to pair one and at the same time it'll pair the rest in your pack. All you need to firmly press on the LED sensor that's visible on the tag to wake it up and you should be good to go.

Once you've filled in some pretty standard profile data (height, weight etc), it's time to get that Tag stuck on. Once it's on and correctly in place, you can begin to see the data the Tags can monitor inside of the app. Here's a breakdown of the sections and what you can expect to see.

Now

Under the Now tab you can see your real-time data with a floating wave illustrating dips and peaks in your data. It's here you can see your resting heart rate, breathing rate and step counts. A blueish-green floating wave will indicate that your breathing is calm. If it turns red, that's a signal that your breathing is tense and that you might be feeling stressed.

In the top right hand corner of the Now screen is an icon filled with a cluster of small green circles. Tapping this brings you into a guided breathing mode where these small green circles are suspended in the air and replicate your breathing. If you are breathing too quickly, it'll tell you to go slower. When you're on the money, it'll let you know.

LiveInsights

This is your place to receive personalised recommendations based on the data the Health Tags can record. These are broken down into Stress, Sleep and Activity. Once you've decided to subscribe to a particular LiveInsight, you'll then receive alerts that you'll receive as notifications. So that could be making sure you are moving every hour of the day, getting reminders about sleep time and duration or getting a gentle reminder to take a deep breath every hour.

Stats

If you want to examine all of your data, this is the place to do it. You can view data displaying calm, focus and tense minutes during the day. Dig deeper and you can see the periods of the day you are most calm (morning, afternoon, evening). It'll also pin points times of the day that represent notable moments of the week. These are the periods you've managed to stay calm or focused for 15 minutes or more. The Tags can also record workouts and sleep too, storing some glanceable data that can be expanded to dig deeper to view in more detail. It's all nicely presented and gives you a quick overview of the day without throwing too much data at you.

Settings

There is inevitably a place to tinker with how the Tags work, but most of these settings are centred around your experience in the app. So you can control how notifications are delivered, adjust activity goals and sleep goals. It's also a helpful place to see all of the Tags that have been connected. If you've managed to lose one, you can send a vibration to the device or light up the LED to help locate it using Bluetooth. It's not the most powerful vibration (or the biggest LED) so it still might be tough locating in a big pile of washing. But it's nice to see that Spire have recognised that this Tag could be easy to lose.

Spire Health Tag: Initial verdict

Spire Health Tag first look: Keeping calm with the invisible wearable

I definitely need to spend a fair bit more time with the Health Tags to find out if these little trackers deliver reliable health and activity tracking. What I can say is that they do live discreetly; I quickly forgot I was wearing mine. The wash-proof aspect is pretty much a necessity because they will inevitably get left on your clothes, just because of how small they are.

It's really going to come down to the data these Tags dish out and whether they're offering any real valuable insights. While they can track workouts and sleep, it's the breathing side, which has been central to Spire's previous wearable, that's the focus here. Along with Spire's LiveInsights it could be the perfect formula for helping you feel less stressed and understanding the factors that can create those stressful moments. The app that presents that data is very polished too. We are impressed so far, but whether the Health Tags will stay on long term is still something we've yet to discover.


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