Relieving stress through one's smartphone (illustration)
Dr. Oren Fuerst. 'Stress is everywhere'
Stressed out by the security situation in Israel? Just take a deep breath: A new application developed by the Israel-based Eco-Fusion company will measure your stress level and provide you with personalized breathing exercises which will help relieve the stress. The app is available both for Android and iOS users.After diagnosing the stress levels, the app guides the user through a technique to lower the stress level with a breathing exercise. The exercise takes five minutes a day and is personally tailored for each user.
How does it work? The app, Serenita, measures the user's stress levels using the smartphone camera as a biomedical sensor (PPG - Photoplethysmograph). The sensor detects biological feedback in the form of pulse and bloodstream pace, and processes the information in order to evaluate the user's stress levels and his ability to concentrate.
This is how it works
Chronic stress: A global problem
Studies conducted in the United States show that one in three Americans suffers from chronic stress and that stress is the cause of 65 percent of Americans' doctor's visits.
"Stress is everywhere, and we provide a convenient tool for dealing with it," says Dr. Oren Fuerst, Eco-Fusion's founder and chairman. "The company was born in a bid to create 'digital medications.' In other words, apps which change people's day-to-day routines.
Dr. Itay Gal
We are surrounded by enemies and threats, face a difficult economic situation and are under a lot of pressure, yet Israel is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy; a psychologist, a sociologist and a geriatric physician try to explain why.
"When we examined apps in different health fields, we saw that the stress issue is hardly treated, although it affects the body directly and indirectly, especially with diseases like diabetes and hypertension."
The app can be easily downloaded in two different versions: A free version and a premium version with more accurate personalization. In order to use the app, attach the tip of your finger to the smartphone camera for a minute. The device measures the stress level and focus according to complicated algorithms and provides the user with a personalized plan of action. The instructions appear on the screen and are said out loud.
"Relaxing elements like yoga and meditation have been found to be effective in lowering stress over time, but they are hard to integrate into a busy schedule," Dr. Fuerst clarifies. "Tests we conducted among the app's users revealed that 80 percent reported reduced stress levels throughout the day, after using the app for only several days.
"We also conducted a clinical trial among diabetes patients, which showed an 18 percent improvement in their sugar levels within eight weeks. This can be explained by the fact that lowering the tress also affects eating habits. It's easier to make a lifestyle change."
Dr. Fuerst stresses that the app is safe for children's use too, although it is advisable to adapt the profile to the user for maximum efficiency.
"We recommend using the app once a day to create a preventive effect," he says, "and in addition one should it at any moment of stress during the day, for example before a test or before an important meeting."