Fitbit is looking to add a new stress resilience feature. This will likely come as a software update at some point in the future so should work with a number of existing devices.
Essential reading: The best stress busting wearables to help you chill, 2020
According a source, it is not clear yet whether this will be a complete 24/7 solution with graphs, or a simple warning system alerting you if your stress levels are too high. Apparently, Fitbit’s Project Mustang is starting on Tuesday 14th of July, and there are beta testers that have been recruited from the public.
It’s worth stressing, all of this is unofficial and none of it has been publicly confirmed by Fitbit just yet. Also, the feature is in testing stage so there’s always a possibility the company decides not to add the feature.
We would be more surprised if Fitbit doesn’t add all day stress monitoring in the near future, then if it does. Garmin, for example, has had this for a while.
While not perfect, the Garmin Connect app spits out a graph each day which charts your stress levels by minute. It provides you with an overall daily score and quantifies the time spent in rest/Low Stress/ Medium Stress and High Stress. The numbers can be off in some instances but overall this works fairly well. Samsung has something similar on the latest crop of its smartwatches as does Polar and a number of other brands.
The data is calculated from Heart rate variability or HRV. This relates to the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate. Unlike your resting heart rate, you should be aiming for a high HRV. It’s a bit counter-intuitive but a healthy HRV should not be beating at a perfect tempo. When your HRV is high, your body is showing better stress resilience and health.
A Fitbit Community feature suggestion board has had an HRV request for a number of years now. The company has marked the status of that request as “Under consideration”.
Fitbit doesn’t offer stress scores, but it does offer something called Guided Breathing Sessions. This is a relaxing mindfulness experience that calms your body and mind. What you get is a choice between a 2 and 5 minute session. Powered by PurePulse and personalized by using your real-time HRV – a number of devices such as the Charge 4 and Versa 2 determine a comfortable breathing rate for you. They then slowly guide you into a relaxing state.
So it seems Fitbit’s PurePulse technology is already capable of tracking HRV. This works via Green LED lights which reflect off the skin to detect that change in blood flow.
The next logical step is introducing a 24/7 stress monitoring feature. This will certainly be an exciting development if it does reach public release. Watch this space.
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