Elite HRV, creators of a heart rate variability (HRV) app and platform, has recently launched CorSense, their new HRV device, on Kickstarter that raised $100,000 within the first 48 hours. The company’s popular HRV app is available for download on your mobile device.
HRV is a complex biomarker that acts as a comprehensive “check-engine light” for the body and mind, that is also non-invasive and responsive. More specifically, HRV is measured by calculating the time between R-R spikes on an ECG trace and comparing these values over time. This variation in beat-to-beat interval is a physiological phenomenon that provides a wealth of information about the autonomic nervous system. For example, HRV can help assess the risks for patients who have suffered a heart attack, or to detect significant changes in the nervous systems of athletes after hard training. Therefore, HRV can be used as a tool to monitor overall health or to detect when an athlete has overtrained. Ideally, you would take measurements of your HRV daily so that baseline values can be established, which would allow you to know how your nervous system is doing whenever there is a deviation from that baseline. This way, you can tone things down before the body is overloaded, especially on top of accumulated fatigue.
We are excited to feature an exclusive interview with the CEO and Founder of Elite HRV, Jason Moore. Mr. Moore also teaches about the science and applications of HRV in online courses offered by Elite HRV.
Alice Ferng, Medgadget: What is your background and what was your motivation behind an HRV company?
Jason Moore, CEO & Founder of Elite HRV: Before Elite HRV, I previously designed large scale data analysis systems for the oil & gas industry – specifically focusing on making complex sensor data and other data more actionable, to track and improve the health of expensive equipment out in the field. While I enjoyed figuring out complex systems and user interfaces, my true passion was in health and human performance. I was an athlete, coach, personal trainer, and also come from a family that is rife with the chronic health issues that plague modern society today – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, obesity, etc.
While researching ways to measure and improve the health and fitness of myself, my clients and my family, I came across Heart Rate Variability and immediately saw huge potential. Unfortunately at that time, the only systems that were capable of measuring it were not very accessible to the average person.
Given my background in making complex data more actionable, I decided to design a system that would be easy to use and make accurate HRV more accessible to everyone – myself included. So after more R&D, the first iteration of the app was released in 2014 and connected with a Polar chest strap to gather the data (HRV requires a high degree of accuracy).
Within months of the initial release, I found myself interacting with innovative coaches, doctors, scientists, and average people from many different places who had downloaded the app and found success improving health and/or performance with it. It was, and continues to be, an amazing experience.
Fast forward a bit, I quit my job in oil and gas, started working full-time on Elite HRV in 2016, recruited a small team of high performers, and now the platform supports over 160,000 users globally with everyone from Olympic medalists to average health seekers.
Medgadget: What was the thinking behind making the CorSense prototype that you sold on Kickstarter? Why not just collect data from other devices and chest straps?
Mr. Moore: With so many users and use cases, it became very clear that people would prefer not to use a chest strap to capture their HRV, but other options were just not accurate enough.
Now we’re releasing a new sensor, designed from the ground up to be able to measure accurate HRV from the fingertip; it’s called CorSense. We’re always going to be as open as possible and support any accurate hardware, but the CorSense is designed specifically to make measuring accurate HRV easy and stress-free.
Medgadget: What are advantages of looking at HRV over just the usual heart rate?
Mr. Moore: Heart Rate Variability gives us a much deeper understanding of the body than basic heart rate. There are so many use cases for HRV over basic heart rate, that over 20,000 research publications have now been published about it – linking changes in Heart Rate Variability to athlete performance, injuries, chronic disease, obesity, psychological health, cognitive performance, and so much more.
So how does it work? By detecting tiny, millisecond changes in your heart beats, we can detect specific patterns that correlate with activity for your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) – the body’s behind the scenes control center. Amongst many responsibilities, the ANS is responsible for regulating energy, digestion, the body’s stress response, and recovery from different types of physical and mental stress such as exercise, school, or work. We’ve found that measuring HRV each day or at least a few times a week, gives us a very unique ability to accurately and objectively understand how different activities affect your overall physiology.
If you’re trying to increase your fitness, HRV can help you know if you’re exercising too little, too much, or maybe if something besides exercise is holding you back (sleep, nutrition, work stress, etc.). We’re able to do this by recognizing shifts in your Autonomic Nervous System and identifying those shifts for you on a regular basis, letting you know when your body has accumulated a lot of stress and when your body has recovered from stressful activity. The neat thing is that is it only takes 2 minutes a day, usually in the morning. No need to wear any wearables during activities or all day and night.
Medgadget: What kinds of conditions or situations would be indicated at the consumer level? Your product is unique in that it’s similar to a pulse oximeter: you only use it when you want to, and it’s not the usual wearable device that is strapped to the person for an extended period of time. Are you able to collect enough data in just 2 minutes to get some data of value?
Mr. Moore: Early use of HRV was primarily reserved for big budget sports organizations and hospitals that had the funds to get expensive equipment costing multi thousands of dollars. Now that people can access accurate HRV right from their smartphone, the use cases have exploded. Today, athletes use it to optimize the stress and recovery of training. Business people use it to improve resilience and cognitive performance. People with injuries or chronic health conditions use it to help their body recover more quickly and to prevent other issues from arising.
How can we do this in just 2 minutes per day? Each day you experience physical, psychological, emotional, mental, environmental, and other types of stress. You eat, drink, sleep and rest to recover from all of these activities and prepare for tomorrow and every day after that. By getting a snapshot of what the Autonomic Nervous System is doing each day around the same time, we’re able to see those cycles of stress and recovery and what the lasting impact of them are on your physiology.
For most purposes, readings longer than 5 minutes are just extra noise. Yes, you can use HRV for live biofeedback and meditation sessions, for example. But when it comes to trending HRV over days, weeks, months, and seeing your progress as you tackle your goals – 2 to 5 minutes per day is plenty of data.
Medgadget: How sensitive is HRV and how long does it take for the userto establish baseline readings?
Mr. Moore: HRV is very sensitive. Another reason why short readings are beneficial is because we can control the variables more easily and dig into the data that is most useful for decision making. After about a week, our algorithms learn what each individual’s ANS patterns look like, and start to give personalized guidance to the individual on what’s going on underneath the surface. This only gets more accurate and useful as time goes on.
We provide normative and population data to the user, but the emphasis is on comparing you to yourself over time. The specific things that impact your body the most are different than what impacts my body the most, and comparing you to yourself over time gives you the ability to figure out what works best for you.
Medgadget: What are some performance advantages and limitations of your device?
Mr. Moore: Let’s start with limitations. This isn’t a replacement for your favorite wearable like a Fitbit or Apple Watch. You aren’t going to wear CorSense all day or night. To get an accurate reading, you need to be relatively still. It isn’t intended to work under water either.
The advantages, of course, are plenty. Starting the day with a quick 2-minute reading is a great way to do something positive for yourself before heading off to the races. And you’ll know in advance if you need to prioritize some things differently to maximize your ability to tackle your goals each day or week.
Having no buttons or anything to deal with, you open the app, slip CorSense on your finger and can start measuring accurate HRV without any additional setup. No electrodes or wet straps around your chest. Being small and elegant, you can take CorSense with you and use it for live biofeedback or guided meditation at your desk, at yoga class, or even on a quick break in your car. The battery lasts several months depending on usage and can be quickly charged with micro-USB.
We’re confident in our platform and have no reason to lock you in. You can use CorSense with any app that can receive heart rate or HRV data. You can also export your data and do whatever you want with it.
Medgadget: Were you expecting your Kickstarter to do so well and sell out so quickly? Why do you think there was so much interest?
Mr. Moore: Given our relationship with our community, we were expecting the Kickstarter to succeed, but we were both honored and surprised at the amazing response we received.
We take a lot of time to understand our community’s needs. Over 10,000 emails have been sent to us with ideas and feedback, and I’ve personally answered the majority of them. Adding value, paying attention, and communicating seem to be good ways to build interest.
The CorSense production is coming along well! We’re finalizing tooling and gearing up for full scale production. We’re still on track to hit our February-March deliveries for the Kickstarter backers.
We’re also now officially accepting pre-orders at https://elitehrv.com/corsense