Aug 25, 2015, 11:07am CDT
By Jim Bafaro
Feeling stressed out? A group of St. Louis entrepreneurs wants to help you.
From their office in the Cortex district of mid-town St. Louis, a team of developers from Data Dog Health Inc., is creating an app to monitor your stress level via a wristband, much like the popular Fitbit technology that measures your heart rate from the pulse on your wrist.
The inspiration for the product, called Mindset, said Data Dog co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Russell, came in 2013.
“I met my co-founder, Ravi Chacko, at a bioengineering design conference in Seattle, where we wound up placing in a pitch competition,” she said. “We began working together and decided to tackle the issue of access to mental health care. And this is where we found our niche — realizing that anyone who has stress or anxiety could benefit from a digital interaction such as we’ll provide.”
Mindset features both a hardware and software component. “For the hardware, think of what you think of with Fitbit. We pair with any third-party wearable device that measures heart rate and has a Bluetooth Low Energy connection,” she said. “Just as Fitbit monitors activity as a way to gauge your physical fitness level, we are gauging your stress level via heart rate as a measure of mental health.” As the wearable device detects increased heart rate, and thus determines the wearer is becoming stressed, it will deliver that message to an app downloaded on the user’s smart phone.
“The app will tell the wearer, ‘Hey, this might be a good moment to be aware that you are becoming stressed out,’” Russell said.
Other options available include a series of recordings that offer options such as breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
The product is still in the alpha testing stage, with launch expected around the end of 2015. She said private investors have provided $250,000 in seed money to get the company off the ground.
And while Data Dog’s immediate goal is to help us manage our stress, the company has a longer range goal in mind as well.
“Mental health isn’t as frequently discussed as physical health,” Russell said. “So part of what we’re trying to do is show that mental health is just as important as physical health. In several years, hopefully, mental health technology will be just as ubiquitous as fitness and activity tracking.”