- A startup called Spire is launching a new wearable device that sticks to clothes and can go through the wash
- Spire’s Health Tag can track users’ breathing and sleep, and its app can offer advice on how users can be healthier.
- The company will sell the tags in packs of three, eight and 15 so users don’t have to worry about transferring the gadgets among their different clothes.
Fitness bands and activity-tracking smart watches are designed to help you lead a healthier, happier life.
But such devices don’t really do much good when you forget to wear them or their batteries run out halfway through a workout.
San Francisco-based startup Spire thinks it has a solution, a new gadget it calls the Health Tag. The Health Tag is a tiny health monitor and activity tracker that attaches to users’ clothes.
“To bring the (wearable) industry forward we had to make the wearable disappear,” Spire CEO Jonathan Palley said.
The device, which goes on sale Thursday, is about the same size as a pack of Tic-Tacs. Spire designed it so users could forget about it after they affix it to their clothes. It has a year-long battery life and can go through a washer and dryer. Indeed, when Spire was developing the Health Tag, it bought a washer-and-dryer set for its office and spent four months subjecting prototypes of the device to them, Palley said.
The Health Tag can track users’ heart rates, breathing patterns, activity, sleep, stress, and anxiety levels. The device’s smartphone app allows users to choose which of those to track — or they can choose to track all of them.
Spire is selling the tags in packs of three ($US99), eight ($US199) and 15 ($US299), so users can attach them to an assortment of their clothes and not have to worry about transferring the tags from one piece of clothing to another. The company recommends that users affix the tags to the clothes they wear most often, including workout gear, pajamas, and work clothes. The company’s app is designed to automatically sense the tag a user is wearing and gather data from that particular one.
Offering advice — but only when needed
The more frequently users wear Health Tags, the more useful information they can provide, including offering advice on how to be healthier. For example, if the device notices a user hasn’t gotten a good night’s sleep the previous two nights and has observed that the user tends to sleep better after exercising, it might send a notification suggesting the user go for a run that night.
Spire has designed the Heath Tags and their accompanying app to help users reduce stress. By tracking users’ breathing, it can tell when they are stressed out. The app can then prompt users to take deep, slow breaths or to go for a walk around the block.
Of course, receiving repeated notifications can also stress people out. But Palley said Spire has that covered too. The app is designed to limit the number of prompts it sends users to an average of three to five a day.
“If you’re having a healthy day, we shouldn’t be bugging you,” he said.
The Health Tag is the second wearable gadget from Spire, following a clip-on device called the Stone. The new Health Tag is the product the team wanted to build when it first started out, Palley said, adding that the Stone was a “stepping stone” to the new gadget.