Featured apps at Health 2.0 focus on reducing stress, monitoring heart rate
Healthcare conferences seem to have a monopoly on exercise and wellness, but that's not always the case at Health 2.0. Fitbits and contenders were nowhere in sight at the session on "Tracking and Monitoring Wellness."
Instead, the emphasis was on the mind, spirituality, breathing and serenity - topics you don't expect at an intense, high-tech conference featuring ambitious, bright, multi-tasking entrepreneurs, or as one of the conference speakers called them, "brave" and "crazy."
Catherine Calarco, chief marketing officer for HeartMath in Boulder Creek, Calif., helped launch Inner Balance, an app that can be used on the iPhone, iPad and iPod. It assists users in replacing ongoing stress with a new level of "inner balance" and applying techniques to ease the tension.
Calarco is an entrepreneur who has been at it for more than two decades, helping to transform a heavy heart monitor of yesteryear to a laptop sensor for recording breathing patterns and heart rate.
Consumers just clip a HeartMath Sensor for IOS to the earlobe, select how they are feeling at the present moment and tune into unique breathing pacers offered by the app.
Inner Balance provides three choices for the pacers - two with graphic and soothing animations and another customized option allowing users to download personal photos and music.
As users breathe, their heartbeat is reflected at the top of the screen. If a user is thinking negative thoughts, the app redirects those feelings to a positive realm by recommending a more upbeat emotion. Inner Balance offers goals and real-time feedback so users know when they have successfully shifted their feelings and ultimately, their heart rhythms to a calmer stage.
The primary goals, Calarco said, are to reduce stress and produce relaxation by synchronizing heart rhythms while focusing on positive emotions. "Inner Balance is an approach for achieving wellness through training, education and self-monitoring," she said.
The app maintains a history of sessions and tracks a user's progress over time, providing information on the percentage of time spent in a coherence (sustained) level of high, medium or low. Different colors - green, blue and red, respectively - represent the levels.
Calarco explained that when experiencing positive emotions, heart rhythm becomes smoother and demonstrates a more harmonious pattern, providing the body with more efficiency.
At the same time, users can witness their heart rate variability, the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate.
Inner Balance plans to add a cloud functionality in November that will provide more detailed information, storage capacities and a reward program.
One of the biggest concerns for entrepreneurs is the inevitable need for funding unless they have deep pockets. Calarco said HeartMath has angel investors but bootstrapping is the main mode. "You need to find a good match and look for smart money," she said.
Her advice on approaching venture capitalists or other potential investors is to always do your own research and really understand what's in it for the person you are approaching. "You want to keep your pitch short and get to the point. Provide them with a unique value proposition and help them understand why they should invest in you or your company," she said.
Other members of the panel shared their innovative apps on the way to wellness. Two other presentations focused on breathing and heart rate. The MyBreath app from BreathResearch measures and tracks breathing to put users in touch with their breathing, helping them reach fitness and wellness goals. The app produces a breathing index score using the microphone in their iPhone headset.
Zensorium's Tinke, a simple, wireless gadget that connects to an iPhone, measures heart rate, respiratory rate, heart rate variability and blood oxygen levels to optimize and monitor fitness and wellness.
Craving to Quit is a 21-day solution to smoking cessation, which focuses on why a user wants to smoke and how to avoid cravings; tracks cigarette use; sends daily reminders to be aware of the moment; and provides an activity journal for use online or on an iPhone.
Finally, a Munch (nutritional health), Move (physical health) and Mind (mental health) app from GetHealth puts fun into creating behavior changes.
[Photo by - UrbaneWomenMag]