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Phyode W/Me: More wellness coach than fitness tracker

Published on May 5, 2014 6:12 AM
 
Phyode W/Me

Unlike some run-of-the-mill fitness devices that merely track steps taken, the Phyode W/Me wristband uses a proprietary Life Spectrum Analyzer to measure your mental state.

The device uses touch-activated electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors to measure the minute electrical signals generated during a heartbeat.

The W/Me app (free on Android and iOS) converts these signals into data to show the current state of your autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is part of the peripheral nervous system that controls subconscious functions including breathing and heart rate.

The W/Me wristband looks like the Nike+ FuelBand, with 120-LED lights on top. But it has a detachable wavy band on the bottom. This "waviness" allows it to be flexible enough to accommodate different wrist sizes while keeping the wristband in place.

Detaching the wavy band reveals the USB connector for charging the device. A full charge usually lasts five to seven days.

The LEDs display time, battery and other notifications in a vertical format, so the information can be read easily.

Below the LEDs is a tactile button that you tap, hold or double-tap to toggle or exit functions. I can never remember what to do and have to constantly refer to the manual.

This button is also an ECG sensor and works with another ECG sensor located underneath the band to measure your ANS.

You need to use the app to pair your smartphone with the W/Me wristband using Bluetooth, but this is quick and easy.

Then, you can set up an account, key in your height and weight, and set up notifications for such things as incoming calls or e-mail messages.

The app's two functions are Measure and Coaching. To measure your ANS, make sure the inner sensor is in contact with your wrist, while you touch and hold the external sensor.

Each measurement takes 3min to complete. The app analyses and displays the data received from the wristband to show your current ANS Age, Agility Score and Mental State in a nice graphical format.

My measurements fluctuated throughout the day. Most of the time, according to W/Me, I am in an Excitable mental state. Other mental states include Balanced, Passive, Pessimistic and Anxious.

After a football match, my mental state became Pessimistic. That was really surprising, as my team had won.

To improve your mental state and help you de-stress, the Coaching part of the app takes you through a series of abdominal breathing exercises.

One such exercise requires you to inhale for 2sec, hold for 1sec and exhale for 4sec. The app will tell you whether you achieved the required breathing cycles. I found these exercises relaxing, but cannot tell if they confer long-term benefits.

Given its rather hefty price tag, it is a letdown that the W/Me does not track your steps taken, calories burned or sleep patterns.

  • The Phyode W/Me is a breath of fresh air in the fitness tracker market. But it is more of a wellness coach than a fitness tracker and one whose benefits are hard to prove or disprove.

trevtan@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on April 23, 2014.

Background story

TECH SPECS

Price: $269

Water resistance: Splash-resistant

Connectivity: Bluetooth

Weight: 39g


RATING

Design 4/5

Performance 3/5

Value for money 3/5

Battery life 3/5

Overall 3/5