Olive is a new wearable bracelet that doesn’t want to just track your steps, tell you how many fake flights of stairs you’ve walked up today or give you a weird arbitrary point every time you pick up the pace, it wants to analyse a range of your body’s metrics in order to lower your stress levels and make you happier and more productive in the process.
Earlier in the month I explored the new range of wearables aimed at both consumers and medical professionals designed to help us reduce stress, anxiety and tackle mental health (Check it out here: Could wearable tech help us to improve our mental health?). It looks like the team behind Olive are looking at bringing past learnings from some of the devices and research I explored in that post and package it up in a pretty wearable aimed at your average Joe (and Jane).
Olive essentially tracks a lot of different data from your body, like heart rate, skin conductance, motion and skin temperature, and analyses these patterns to figure out how stressed you are. If you’re stressed it’ll flash its LED lights or pulsate (depending on how you’ve set it up to alert you of problems) and also work in combination with an app or web dashboard to encourage you to exercise or leave your current situation in a bid to get you back to neutral.
However, it’s not just about helping you to react better to your stress levels in the moment, because Olive can work with its smartphone app to build a detailed picture of your lifestyle and what longer term factors are causing anxiety, like sleep patterns, work patterns and travel. But it’s not just a detailed picture, the team behind Olive also claim to be working alongside specialists in the fields of mindfulness, positive psychology and behavioural therapy to help you manage your stress too. This is vital if Olive wants to have a long-lasting effect and aim to make a positive impact on our lifestyles rather than just alerting us to elevated stress levels.
The bracelet itself looks like most other wearables on the market, but with its different colour straps (that can be swapped out for others), medium-sized band and slight metallic detail it manages to straddle the line between plastic-y wearable designed for sport and high-end wearable designed for professionals. Of course whether it can really do that in practice remains to be seen, but I’ve been pretty impressed with the versatility of how the Olive looks so far at least.
The interesting thing about Olive in comparison to other wearables? It doesn’t have to have a phone nearby to work. In fact you don’t need a phone AT ALL to get benefits from Olive. Sure you miss out on some functionality, like a more accurate picture of your lifestyle and exercise prompts, but it’s pretty cool that unlike every other wearable out there the bracelet can be a useful stress coach without a phone lurking around too (after all, phones are a HUGE reason to stress for many of us).
The team behind Olive has launched an Indiegogo campaign to bring its stress-relieving wearable to the masses and it’s already raised $67,471 of its $100,000 target, which is promising given there’s a whole 35 days left to go before it ends. For $129 you can get your hands on (or wrist snuggly fitted into) an Olive bracelet in whichever colour you please. The team explains that when/if the Olive becomes a reality it’s likely to retail in excess of $150, so if you’re keen to give it a whirl then it’s worth investing in one sooner rather than later.
In theory the Olive sounds great. It’s designed to stop us getting stressed out, which can lead to blowouts at work or in our personal lives and even bring on more serious anxiety issues or depression more long term. However, with more and more wearables providing us with more visibility about how we move, eat and now how we feel are we effectively outsourcing the introspection and mindfulness we should be cultivating on our own to a gadget? I’ve written about this topic extensively in the past (check out: Wearables and mindfulness: Should we really be outsourcing our sense of wellbeing and awareness to a gadget?) but as more wearables designed to calm us down and cheer us up hit the consumer market, it’ll be interesting to see whether their benefit is long-lasting or short-lived once we realise that we need more than a wearable to address our problems.
Want to read more? If you’re looking to buy a wearable or activity tracker, we’ve found the best wearables to keep you safe, but, if they’re too expensive, here are the best budget wearables and activity trackers for under £70.
If you’re not bothered by wearables at all, but still want help with keeping fit, check out our feature on 10 kitchen gadgets, tools and utensils for healthy living.