Prana: Wearable for Breathing and Posture
Prana is the first wearable combining breath and posture tracking to make your sitting time count.
Prana: Wearable for Breathing and Posture
Prana is the first wearable combining breath and posture tracking to make your sitting time count.
What is Prana?
Prana takes over where standard activity trackers leave off – helping you make the most of the times you sit by improving the quality of your breathing and posture.
- Tracks your breathing and posture from a single location on your waistband
- Gently notifies you when your breathing or posture can be improved to enhance your wellness
- Goes beyond passive tracking alerts, offering a fun and uniquely-controlled game—in 2 minute sessions—to help you rapidly gain benefits from good breathing and sitting
- App works on both iOS and Android
Prana builds on recent medical studies and ancient mindfulness traditions to help you tap into the many benefits of good breathing and sitting, including reduced stress, better focus, and less back pain. Prana represents more than 2 years of intense research and development by our team of hardware/software engineers, algorithm scientists, and a medical doctor. The connection between breath and posture has been established by many traditions such as Yoga, spanning back thousands of years, and now we're very excited to introduce the first wearable which can greatly help you incorporate these combined benefits into your life.
For many of us, it’s hard to avoid sedentary time, especially at the office—close to 6 hours of sitting a day on average. How we sit impacts how we breathe. And how we breathe affects many aspects of our physiology and state. By extending the idea of activity tracking to our seated time, Prana allows us to make the most of it by improving the quality of the most important seated activities--breathing and posture. And by integrating traditional step tracking, Prana sheds light on both the times we sit and stand for more comprehensive body insights.
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What People are Saying:
BUSINESS INSIDER – “This brilliant little gadget could stop your office job from killing you.”
BRIT + CO. – “Seated posture and breathing have a lot to do with your productivity. The folks at Prana know that more than most.”
VentureBeat – “Forget steps and calories — Prana’s wearable tracks breath and posture.”
TechCrunch – “Prana aims to change how you behave.”
Yahoo News – “Prana is inspired by the idea that good habits in the two domains [of breathing and posture] can lead to stress reduction, improved concentration and even reduced back pain.”
Prana Wearable and App
- A elegantly designed clip-on device worn on the waistband, featuring a stylish metallically finished case, and measuring only 1.25” X ¼” for a comfortable and non-obtrusive wearable experience
- A mobile app with cutting edge patent pending algorithms seamlessly unifying breathing, posture, and step tracking, for both iOS and Android
Sitting and Standing
Prana recognizes when you sit or stand. When you sit, Prana analyzes your breath patterns and posture, providing you with a seated Health Score and the opportunity to consciously train these in quick game sessions (Tune-Ups). When you stand or walk, Prana automatically switches to standing mode where it functions as a traditional step tracker.
Passive Tracking and Active Training
For breathing and posture, Prana offers two fundamental modes: Passive tracking and active training.
- Passive Tracking: Prana works behind the scenes, analyzing the quality of your breathing, detecting signs of stressful breathing patterns and poor posture. When we are stressed, we tend to breathe faster and more shallow, with breathing often shifting to the chest from the belly, which Prana can detect. This type of prolonged breathing reinforces stress and can keep us locked in a fight or flight mode. Stress in turn is known to increase poor posture and slouching, which limits air flow into the lungs and can further disrupt our breathing pattern. In addition, poor posture can significantly contribute to lower back pain. Prana helps break this vicious cycle by occasionally notifying us via a gentle on-device buzz, or through a push text alert to our mobile app, that it’s time to improve either breathing or posture or both.
- Active Training (Tune-ups): Allows you to do something about the results of your passive tracking. Here, the Prana app offers a unique and fun game experience for consciously tapping into the near-immediate benefits of good breathing and posture, available whenever you wish to do so, such as after an extended period of poor breathing or sitting. In our game, you breathe your way to enhanced wellness by flying through our Zen Garden. Collect flowers by carefully controlling inhalations and exhalations to follow the target breath pattern, tracked in real-time, while maintaining good posture. You directly control the game character with your breathing, with the bird flying higher as you inhale, and lower as you exhale, via Bluetooth and patent pending algorithms. You can feel stress reduction for example in as little as 2 minutes, the length of our quick game sessions.
- Our library offers dozens of capsules for Active Training such as "Wake Up", "Focus", and "Wind Down", which translate to breathing exercises/patterns from traditions around the world, such as Yoga Pranayama, Buteyko, Tai Chi, 4-7-8, and many others, which can support many more individualized targeted benefits beyond stress reduction such as increasing energy, improving concentration, or preparing for sleep, in as little as two minutes of use (breath patterns explained below).
- Prana redefines goals for activity trackers. For example, while seated, you can set to achieve 30 minutes of relaxed breathing, 30 minutes of upright posture, 5 tune-up sessions, a target Seated Health Score of 90%, and 10,000 steps for the day when standing.
Science—Breathing is the core of Prana
Breathing is vital to our lives. But does it matter how we breathe? There is now vast medical evidence showing that the following 3 interrelated factors have a major impact on the quality of our breathing and physiology:
By breathing from the belly and with the right breath pattern, we can tap into and efficiently activate the body’s parasympathetic response via the Vagus nerve, which immediately helps to reduce stress. The Parasympathetic response—also known as the Relaxation Response—(see Harvard article) is the opposite of fight or flight mode (part of the Sympathetic nervous system) which many of us get chronically locked into, especially during extended stressful sitting and work at the office. Think of Prana as a gateway to efficient rapid stress reduction, in as little as 2 minutes of use.
A breath pattern goes far beyond what can be captured by a simple summary statistic such as respiration rate. It is defined by how we breathe over time, with parameters such as inhalation time, depth, retention, smoothness, exhalation time, and time between breaths. Recent studies have found that the patterns we employ, both consciously and unconsciously, can make a serious difference. For example, this research analyzed a range of studies which found that yogic breathing, when properly practiced, has a significant positive impact on conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress related illnesses including post traumatic stress disorder. In this specific example, a practice called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga was evaluated, which is composed of at least four distinct breathing techniques, effectively translating into four different breath patterns. As another example, this study considered the effects of rhythmic breathing and found positive effects on immune function. The lesson here is that valuable health data hides within our breath pattern, not just in averaged measures like respiration rate, and that we can choose to use and practice patterns which can favorably affect our health.
The Prana app and device makes it easy and intuitive to train in a wide variety of breathing techniques, making the benefits of nuanced breathing patterns accessible through a fun game session, which visualizes the contours of these breathing patterns over time across a scrolling background. Prana also offers a more in-depth Clinical Mode (unlocked with Stretch Goal #2 for mobile), tracking 10 distinct stats, posture, and displaying our real time breath patterns.
Diaphragmatic Breathing versus Chest Breathing
The diaphragm is the dome-shaped sheet of muscle under the lungs that serves as the main muscle of respiration. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, is an efficient, natural, and healthy form of breathing where the breather uses more of their entire lung capacity compared to chest breathing. During diaphragmatic breathing, the breather more fully contracts their diaphragm to enlarge the volume of the thoracic cavity to draw air more fully into the lungs, causing the abdomen to expand and belly to rise during inhalation. Chest breathing on the other hand, typically involves shallow breaths taken from the upper lobes of the lungs, primarily and unnaturally using chest muscles to inflate the lungs, with minimal diaphragm and belly movement. Diaphragmatic breathing delivers a significantly larger amount of oxygen to the bloodstream, since the lower lobes of the lungs—which contain a richer supply of blood vessels compared to the upper—receive more air. Stress and chest breathing seem to go hand in hand, and not surprisingly, there is an epidemic of chest breathing in our modern world as discussed here. A number of recent studies have found concrete evidence of health benefits for diaphragmatic breathing (see Study1, Study2).
A strong connection between posture and breath has been emphasized by many traditions for thousands of years, including Yoga Pranayama. The basic idea is that good posture facilitates good breathing. This idea is now supported by a number of recent studies and research. For example, this research paper found a significant relationship between a particular seated posture and the quality of pulmonary function. These researchers found that in slumped sitting, spirometric measurements of forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume, and peak expiratory flow were all significantly decreased compared to a normal upright seated posture. One explanation is that posture affects the distribution of weight of visceral organs on the diaphragm, which affects its mobility when breathing. Slumped sitting can have an impeding effect on diaphragm mobility. This research found that posture does in fact directly affect diaphragmatic movement.
Beyond breathing, there are many other important benefits of good posture which Prana can help support, including preventing back problems and muscular pain, less fatigue since muscles are used more efficiently, decreased stress on joints, ligaments and the spine, as well as improving our appearance.
Prana evaluates breath patterns, takes into account the effects of posture, and differentiates between diaphragmatic and chest breathing, three critical components of assessing the true quality of breathing, previously unaddressed by systems such as spirometers or pulse oximeters. Our algorithms are able to disentangle breath from posture, as well as chest from diaphragmatic breathing, utilizing just one small sensor case worn near the belly or waist area. With a 263 page pending patent covering numerous breakthroughs, Prana offers many new features unavailable in today’s activity trackers.
Benefits of good Breathing:
Many recent medical studies support that breathing in a healthy way (good breath pattern, belly breathing, and good posture) can have a positive impact on many aspects of health, including:
- Relaxing the mind and body
- Lowering blood pressure and heart rate
- Increasing energy
- Improving focus
- Helping to fall sleep
- Reducing anxiety and panic
- Strengthening the immune system
- Helping with chronic pain
- Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (Relaxation Response) to avoid chronic fight or flight mode
- Improving mood
- Improving heart rate variability (HRV)
- Even helping medical conditions such as Asthma, COPD, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Breathing Study links:
Prana Sensors and Hardware
- Prana utilizes a highly sensitive 3-axis accelerometer, making even the lightest breathing detectable
- Low energy Bluetooth (BLE) connection to most smartphones (iOS and Android)
- Energy efficient mobile processor with flash memory
- Switchless design
- Rechargeable Battery life of 7 days and up
- Vibrational element to gently inform via on-device buzz when breath or posture can be improved
- Highly advanced new algorithms to disentangle breath from posture signals from one location on the waistband
- Sleek and metallically finished case with clip, worn on the waist (1.25″ x 0.25″)
Stretch Goal #1 $200K
Our app will be going live with the Zen garden theme for the game component. If we are able to hit a $200k goal, we’d love to add some flare and variety by including an Atlantis themed underwater game world, where your breathing and posture maneuvers you around ancient ruins and perky sea creatures.
Stretch Goal #2 $300K
Our Clinical mode with 10 real-time breath stats is currently built for desktops. While all the algorithms and processing behind this mode will be available in the mobile app as far as passive tracking and active training, If we can hit a $300K goal, we will port this mode to tablets and phones along with a new mobile user interface, for exposing all the behind the scenes real-time data for many applications in research as well as for the more advanced wearable users.
Who Prana is for?
Prana is a next generation wearable aimed towards anyone who would like a more comprehensive tracker covering both the time we spend sitting and standing. Prana can greatly benefit everyone from office workers to experienced meditators. In particular, Prana is aimed towards anyone who wishes to harness the power of good breathing with good posture to unlock many healthy benefits in a fun, interactive, and accessible manner, previously requiring esoteric breathing and posture exercises.
Timeline and History of Development
We started our mission way back in November of 2012, first conducting extensive research to learn as much as possible about the science of breathing, how it impacts our health, and then designing a suite of new patent pending algorithms to address the unique challenges of tracking breath, posture, and activity all from a single point on the waistband. We have built countless prototypes along the way, starting with a belt approach, and slowly improving and evolving our capabilities to shift to our single pod which can track all these features from one location.
September 2014—clip-on hardware prototypes fully functional
October 2014 ---software fully functional, all major features operational
November 2014—new game art completed
November 2014—new website launched
December 2014— out of stealth mode
March 2015—Launch of kickstarter
July 2015—Target product delivery to our kickstarter backers
Who we are:
Based in San Francisco, we bring together a multidisciplinary team, spanning medical science, software and hardware engineering, game design, and app development experience. Our founders:
Andre Persidsky: CEO, Co-Founder
Andre is an engineer, patented inventor, computer book author, and entrepreneur, with dozens of inventions from consumer electronics to medical devices.
Dr. Paul Abramson MD: Chief Science Officer (CSO), Co-Founder
Paul received his medical degree from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has been a pioneer in the use of self-tracking technologies in medical care, blogging and speaking as The Quantified Doctor www.quantdoctor.com
Alex Ahlund: VP Interactive & Design, Co-Founder
Alex is a video game industry vet who has worn virtually every hat in the business, from game designer to executive producer, with extensive experience building engaging mobile apps.
Why we chose to do this?
We were drawn together to build Prana out of our shared passion for meditation and Yoga, with decades of time and practice dedicated to these areas between our founding team. Breathing and posture is a central aspect to both of these areas, and our hope is to make the many interconnected benefits accessible in a modern and engaging new way.
Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
We currently have fully functioning prototypes, hardware design, and software, along with a 263 page pending patent detailing extensive new algorithms and research conducted over a two year period.
With hardware manufacturing, unforeseen challenges can arise, but we are currently working hard to avoid any such potential issues with our final production units, to offer the best possible quality and user experience.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)