This tiny device helps you build habits that improve your focus

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/09/this-tiny-device-helps-you-bui.html

This has Doctor Who invasion plot device written all over it.

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Just what I was thinking the other day. If only there was a device that would transmit my personal biometric and behavioral data into the cloud for some company to process in accordance with their opaque Terms of Service and Privacy Policy!

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So a $70 mood ring?

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You’re in luck, there’s a lot more that just this one device.

So they can tell my mental state from my breathing? I severely doubt that.
Woo, I say. Woo!

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I’m not sure scientific studies will change your mind. But there’s a fair amount of research behind autonomic responses to our emotions.
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Here’s a great survey of around 60 published journals on the subject, if you’re interested in the actual science behind the concept: Breathing rhythms and emotions

Of course, I have my doubts about the app that waits 24hrs to provide feedback (this is not conducive to mindful awareness). But the science behind the concept is sound.

There may well be autonomic responses to our emotions. There may also be such responses to other, non-emotional things, too.

Presumably the device will filter out periods of high activity (since it has an accelerometer in the first place).

I guess you could trick it if you intentionally decide to start hyperventilating. Or decide to hold your breath, and the body forces you to start breathing more heavily afterward?

I don’t have a stake in this. But I’ve noticed a tendency for people to be skeptics without critically thinking through why something is “fake.” There’s a lot of good to be had by bringing mindfulness to our emotions. It seems to me that coupling this with heartrate and galvanic skin response would be an amazingly insightful tool to have under one’s proverbial (or literal) belt.

I’m genuinely curious: What mental states do you experience throughout the day that autonomically induce more rapid breathing that are decoupled from an elevated emotional mood?

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I did not say that I did have other mental states that did this. Mental states are mostly pretty much emotions. But exercise, drugs, alcohol, sleepiness, napping, are perhaps all potential non-emotional causes of changes in breathing rate. But they change emotions too. So this thing will know whether my emotion is caused by A or B? No. But I already know what causes each of my emotions.

I also dispute the apparently accepted wisdom re ‘mindfulness’ and it being a good thing to bring to our emotions, as you say. Mindfulness is to a significant extent an industry / bandwagon for separating some people from their money. I am fully aware of my emotions or mental state and knowingly irrational enough to resent implications from the media at large that I need some of this mindfulness (and where I can spend my money to get it).

My initial response was a humorous reaction to more BB Store crapgadgetry. There may be some science here. But these kinds of devices are aimed squarely at the woo-gullible, with too much money, in my view. If there really is some benefit for a specific individual in getting some more, or getting better at, ‘mindfulness’, a crapgadget is likely not the best way to achieve it.

But what do I know? I’m a sceptic, as you note. :wink:

PS are there as many different and detectable breathing patterns as there are emotions? Seems unlikely, so this thing might tell me I had ‘an emotion’. Wow!

That’s great that you know what is causing an unpleasent state! This device is not for you! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Surprisingly many people are oblivious to their internal states. I can see a device that gives them a heads up to say “Hey, your breathing is accelerated!” so they can reflect and see, yes, drinking a triple-americano might not be the best choice if they don’t want the associated feeling of anxiousness.

Mindfulness is free. I’ll be the first to tell people to do the research and read up on their own for free resources. My favorite one is completely free and (IMHO) lifechanging: The Work by Byron Katie. A few simple questions that I’ve seen first-hand have massive impact. Naturally there’s a book and workbooks, but the core questions are given freely. And there’s plenty of other models/paradigms.

As for BB Store crapgadegtry. FFS I agree. I’ve been a BB frequenter since before the century started. Watching it degrade into a laggy ad-fest with one or two good articles a week has been… disheartening. And most of the time the good stories are a day or three (or weeks) later than other news sources I’ve been switching to. :cry:

Take care!

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