A personal heart rate monitor bundled with a software application has been launched by Brain Resource (Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia) to help users manage stress by tracking heart rate variability (HRV). Although not the first device to use this strategy to calm nerves, the MyCalmBeat system is “the first device to make HRV an accessible feedback mechanism by employing a second body of research linking breathing rates and HRV, making this really the first accessible method of using HRV for most people,” says Joakim Vinberg, product manager, clinical solutions at Brain Resource.
The device uses a small ear clip, which monitors an individual’s heart rate variability as the user breathes at a prescribed speed. The system calculates the optimal breathing rate where heart rate is most variable. (High HRV has been correlated with low anxiety). Apps are offered to use on desktop computers, smartphones, and online to help users train to objectively track their heart rate variability over time.
“The inspiration behind the device is a fair amount of science underlying the connection of heart-rate variability to mental and physical health outcomes, ranging from increased focus, memory, learning, and stress relaxation to improved heart outcomes,” Vinberg says. “[Although the product is] not strictly a medical device, there’s a ton of great evidence in the research realm, but not yet in the clinical realm.”
Product page: MyCalmBeat