Chic New Wearable Helps You Relieve Stress

Stressed out about feeling stressed out? A new activity tracker helps you focus and resist stress by monitoring your mental and physical reactions so you can alter your behavior in the future. Available for pre-order, starting at $129, the Sona Connected Bracelet features an optical heart rate monitor and pairs with an iOS app (Android coming). I was impressed, during an early preview, by the Sona's charming looks and stress tracking capability.

Through its sensor, the Sona studies your heart rate variability (HRV), which measured the changing of each heartbeat's peak. That information is sent to the app via Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. In other words, it counts the differences in the time it takes you to get to the peak of each heartbeat. The company says this measurement is more than ten times more accurate than standard beats per minute (BPM).

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Within the app, you'll see a snapshot of your mental and physical activity that day, including your current pulse and how far away you are from your goals. Caeden also monitors what it calls Active Time, which is the amount of time you spend in aerobic or fat-burning activity, by looking at your heart rate. It also notes the usual fitness metrics, such as your calories burned and distance traveled. The tracked data can also work with Apple's Healthkit.

I strapped on a Sona so that it sat firmly on my relatively petite forearm, and watched as a behind-the-scenes version of the app showed the rise and fall of a graph (like an EKG) representing my pulse. Lower blips indicated more stress, while bigger spikes showed more calm.

To help you better endure stress, the Sona and its app offer a selection of paced breathing meditation sessions called Resonance. After some time of studying your stress patterns, the system will recommend a daily Resonance objective. You can pick from five session types, such as Start the Day, Focus Boost and Breath Timing. Each of these is a combination of audio narration and a graphic of a circle expanding and contracting to tell you when to inhale and exhale.

I did a quick session with Caeden CEO Nora Levinson, who told me the aim is to get my heart rate to look more like a series of sine curves. After a few minutes of slow, focused breathing, I watched as my tight, curly lines slowly unwound and become continuous S-shaped curves. The mandated meditation made me feel calmer, and I can imagine how reaching a daily quota of these can make you more prepared for daily stresses.

One of the things that stood out for me was how pretty, but not ostentatiously so, the bracelets are. The elegant white leather band and gold frame combination looked lovely on my pale wrist, and is understated enough to wear every day. Two other frame options are available (Gold and Gunmetal), as is a black leather band. Those who get the pre-order bundle will also get a silicone strap. The device is splashproof, so it can withstand some sweat and rain.

Levinson said the wearable's battery will last up to four days, and can be charged via the included magnetic cable (or on the nightstand dock that comes in pre-order bundles).

The Sona's appeal may seem limited, considering people who are stressed might not want to be reminded of how unhealthy being stressed is. But Levinson explained the device is designed for high achievers who want to make sure they don't collapse from stress. So if you want to pay closer attention to your mental health, the Sona looks to be a solid, handsome option. 

Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.