If you're constantly stressed on the job, wearable tech startup Caeden wants to help.
Its latest product, the Sona Connected Bracelet, will measure your heart rate variability (the interval between your heartbeats). The device was created and designed by Nora Levinson and David Watkins, Caeden's co-founders, who were former colleagues at such tech companies as Jawbone, InCase, and Skullcandy. The two show off their new device this week at CES in Las Vegas.
Before you liken the Sona to another wearable gadget (i.e., the Apple Watch, or a Fitbit bracelet), consider that it does more than simply track physical fitness. It's also designed to hone your mental health.
The idea, explains Levinson, is to guide the "busy professional" through a unique meditation experience by syncing the heart rate to a sine wave pattern.
"You're essentially training your nervous system to be resilient to stress," says Levinson. With a background in engineering, the former mechanical lead at Jawbone claims the bracelet is 10 times more accurate than your run-of-the-mill heart rate sensor.
The startup's goal was to create a bracelet that is fashionable enough to sustain customer interest over time. The leather band is available in three metal finishes (gold, rose gold, and black), with the sensors strategically hidden on the opposite side. These sensors measure your heart rate variability and give consumers a daily 'score' to measure their progress, which is accessible by downloading the brand's app.
Caeden isn't Watkins and Levinson's first venture; they also started a line of luxury smartphone cases called Adopted Inc. Launched in 2012, products are available in retailers like Barneys and Best Buy.
In the field of health tech, however, both agreed they needed to create a second, separate business model, which would require its own cash -- and a ton of engineering talent.
"We don't think people should have to choose between a beautifully designed product and the latest tech," said Levinson. "Most fashion companies don't want to expend the resources to develop something from the ground up."
Penetrating the wearable tech market won't be easy. While Caeden is betting on a two-tiered approach by measuring both physical and mental fitness, it is still unclear whether or not customers take the bite.
"Wereable technology has an attention problem," she admits. To Levinson's point, as much as one third of those who'd purchased a wearable device in 2014 said they stopped using it within the first six month, according to a recent study.
Consider, too, that Google Glass failed to gain traction once it entered into the consumer market.
At just one year old, Caeden has raised $1.6 million in total funding, in a round led by Idea Bulb Ventures. It has eight full-time employees, including Soyoung Park, a former Donna Karan executive. She now serves as its head of marketing. So far, Caeden is generating sales through Sona pre-orders, as well as through its design-centric headphones, which can connect via Bluetooth to your audio device, priced around $149.
Still, that's little compared to the likes of tech giant Fitbit -- the maker of wearable fitness trackers, and an Inc. Company of the Year Nominee. Fitbit went public in June of last year, and is currently on track for a staggering $9 billion valuation.
Levinson insists that she's targeting a different demographic: Those who've tried meditation, and were frustrated with their progress (or lack thereof). In addition to guiding you through the process, she explains, the Sona bracelet's meditation tool will also give feedback, and offer tips for improving your practice over time.
Having spent more than six years working together at manufacturing facilities in China, the two add that they've learned how to design cheaply, with an eye towards function.
"At previous companies, my role would be the go-to between the designer and the factory," Levinson adds. "The designer would come up with beautiful but completely unrealistic ideas. If you go into it with a design team that understands and knows how the manufacturing process works, you can come up with good solutions."
The Sona Connected Bracelet, which is set to retail at $199, began taking pre-orders in November. Items are scheduled to ship out later this year in April.