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, says 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. We began working together and decided to tackle the issue of access to mental healthcare. 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,” says Russell, “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. 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.” (for the record, she notes Fitbit does not have such Bluetooth capabilities and is not yet compatible with the Mindset system. She says products such as Mio link do use Bluetooth, and are compatible).
As the wearable device detects increased heart rate, and thus determines the wearer is becoming stressed, it will deliver that message to the software, an app downloaded on the user’s smart phone.
“The app,” says Russell, “will tell the wearer, ‘hey, this might be a good moment to be aware that you are becoming stressed out.’” Among the options available to the user, says Russell, is to tap into a series of recordings that offer options such as breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
Another option will allow the user to record their emotions and assess their pattern of thought using a journal.
Russell says Mindset’s target audience is, “anyone who experiences stress. It can be the stockbroker who has an 80-hour-a-week job and needs to chill out sometimes, or somebody with diagnosed anxiety who wants to supplement their therapy with something they find quickly accessible.”
Russell says the product is still in the alpha testing stage, with launch expected around the end of 2015. She says 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,” says Russell. “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.”