Let’s face it, today’s fast-paced and viciously competitive world has made stress inevitable. Our brains are constantly bombarded with tasks and distractions, leaving many of us worn out. Although it is known that meditation can help many of us to step away from all our stressors and give our overactive brains a break, starting and sticking with such a practice is easier said than done. Fortunately, Unyte Health, a Canadian digital health company, is trying to make this often-perplexing practice easier and more fun. Despite the fact that Unyte is a young company (less than two years old), it was actually built on top of a much older one, called Wild Divine. Anyone who is familiar with modern meditation would know that Wild Divine was a pioneer in technology-assisted interactive meditation, and that it has sold thousands of biofeedback devices over the last decade.
Unyte’s first product is a biofeedback device known as the iom2. When paired with the company’s software, iom2 is designed to deliver interactive meditation to users. We at Medgadget were given the chance to try iom2 over the last few weeks, and below is our brief review.
Out of the Box
iom2 arrives in a simple cardboard box, which includes an ear-clip heart rate sensor, along with a USB charging cable. iom2 is a sleek, slim, rectangular product, the size of a compact mobile phone. It has a small OLED screen that appears somewhat rudimentary, though it is definitely sufficient to portray some helpful information, including the battery level. iom2’s packaging and design are remarkably simple and embody the goal of helping a user relax.
The primary function of iom2 is to measure the user’s Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which is simply a measure of the variation in the time intervals between heartbeats. Interestingly, HRV is regulated by our autonomic nervous system and seems to be impacted by our our state of mind. Contrary to what one would expect, the more relaxed a brain is, the higher the HRV. The idea behind iom2 is to use this biometric to give meditators instantaneous feedback on their mental state during meditation, and therefore help them adjust their technique accordingly.
Software and Usability
To embark on the journey of meditating with Unyte, you are asked to create an account on the company’s website. The website offers a wide variety of meditation programs, or what the company calls “journeys.” These journeys were created by experienced meditation instructors and includes standard voice-guided sessions, as well as more gamified ones, where, for example, you use your mental clarity to fix a villa or blow into a horn that will free your soul. Furthermore, the company is releasing its first VR-enabled journey within the next few weeks.
Overall, most of these sessions were interesting and enjoyable. Their graphics weren’t mind-blowing, as in some of the recent HD games, but they were still visually pleasing. One drawback I found with Unyte’s software was its fragmentation. Each journey has its own app, which meant I ended up with seven different apps on my tablet, which took up a significant portion of its storage. It would definitely be more convenient if everything was put together in one app.
To start a meditation session with iom2, you simply clip the heart rate sensor to your ear, select your meditation session on your computer, tablet, or smartphone device, and then follow the instructions. All sessions display a breathing indicator and a “resonance score” that depicts your HRV, thus the effectiveness of your exercise; this is ideal for open-eyed meditation. However, for those who like to meditate with their eyes closed, these visual cues will not be as useful. After each session, you will be provided with your average resonance score, heart rate, and time spent on the session. Additionally, using your web-based dashboard, you can review your sessions and keep track of your progress.
We believe that iom2 might give people an opportunity to experience meditation in a more attainable way. We found iom2 to be well designed and easy to use. Unyte offers a wide variety of meditation programs, which helps keep the users engaged. However, when it comes to the way these programs were organized, there is definitely some room for improvement.
In terms of cost, iom2 retails for $149.99 on Unyte’s official website. To gain access to Unyte’s meditation programs, the company offers two subscription plans, an annual for $199 (including the iom2 at $139) and a lifetime for $349.99 (including the iom2 at $99.99).
Link: Unyte homepage…