In the realm of wearable technology, tracking on our physical health has been a trend for a while now. Groundbreakers like Fitbit, Apple’s smartwatches, and the Oura smart ring have revolutionized our access to health data, providing real-time insights into our sleep patterns, physical activity, heart rate, and more.
Lately, this domain has expanded, embracing not only physical health but mental wellness too. Innovators in tech have raised the bar, offering tools that provide real-time insights into our mental state and initiating timely interventions for signs of emotional distress.
Diverse Technologies for Mood Tracking:
- Interactive Mood-Logging Devices
Moodbeam, a mood-tracker wristband, presents a straightforward approach with two buttons to express happiness or sadness. This tool is designed more for the benefit of employers or family members to track your mental health. It logs your mood and analyzes it in conjunction with sleep and activity data, all accessible via an app.
- Voice and Speech Analysis Tools
Amazon’s Halo Band employs built-in microphones to analyze your voice throughout the day. Its algorithm evaluates the positivity in your voice, offering feedback on your mental state based on voice tone variations. Similarly, an app from Sonde Health, a healthcare technology firm, uses voice analysis as an indicator of mental health issues like stress and depression.
- Heart Rate Tracking for Emotional Insight
HeartMath’s Inner Balance, a Bluetooth sensor compatible with both iPhone and Android, interprets heart rhythm patterns to infer your emotional state. Its objective is to aid in achieving emotional equilibrium and resilience.
- Breathing Pattern Detectors
Spire Stone, a compact clip-on device, tracks breathing patterns by tracking the expansion and contraction of your torso. It notifies you of unusual breathing patterns and recommends exercises and meditations. Another device, Prana, also focuses on breathing patterns while assessing your posture, offering suggestions to improve mental health.
- Skin Pore Analysis for Stress Levels
Pip, a handheld biosensor, observes changes in skin pores, reflecting stress levels. It provides visual feedback and advice for achieving calmness and efficiency.
- Brain Wave Sensors for Emotional Visualization
Healium, compatible with Apple Watch or EEG headbands, employs augmented and virtual reality to visualize emotions. It interprets brain waves and electrical activity to project emotions on a screen, aiding in stress and anxiety management.
The Risk of Exposing Your Emotions
While these health wearables and technologies are transformative for both physical and mental well-being, they pose significant privacy risks. Sensitive user data could be vulnerable to data breaches or might be sold to third parties.
Privacy policies often benefit the companies that draft them rather than the consumers. In some cases, companies might store and share your data without your consent. For instance, Google, after acquiring Fitbit, can use users’ data for pharmaceutical research and development. Amazon has faced scrutiny for storing Halo Band users’ voice recordings, claiming not to sell the data but still using it for internal purposes.
Safeguarding Privacy with Health-Tracking Devices
- Disable Location Tracking
Combining your data with location can make you more identifiable. Switch off GPS and location tracking in the settings of your device and associated apps.
- Opt for Private Profiles
Many health trackers require setting up a social profile on their apps. Typically, these profiles default to public. Be vigilant about these settings and opt for more privacy to protect your personal information.
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The main types include devices that log mood interactions (like Moodbeam), voice and speech analysis tools (such as the Halo Band and Sonde Health's app), heart rate monitors, breathing pattern detectors (Spire Stone and Prana), skin pore analyzers (like Pip), and brain wave sensors (Healium).
The primary concerns involve the potential for data breaches and the unauthorized sharing of sensitive personal data with third parties. Privacy policies may not always be consumer-friendly.