|Usually “mental-health tech” means an app with some screen-based features such as messaging, games or journaling. Now a new batch of products is focusing on something different: your body.Take the Orb, a $229 grapefruit-size ball from Israeli start-up Reflect Innovation, which sits in your hands and measures your heart rate and finger sweat while you try to relax. Then there’s the $79 Zen, from French company Morphée, which looks exactly like a rock but is actually an audio device that plays the company’s proprietary meditation content. And Dutch company Alphabeats built a $28.99-a-year stress-reduction app that combines music and “biofeedback,” which occurs when you practice controlling your body’s functions such as breath or heart rate.|
Armed with pricey, good-looking products that might be more retail therapy than mental-health treatment, tech companies are elbowing their way into moments of peace and silence that could be therapeutic even without a glowing or humming device. Several scientific studies show that meditation and biofeedback are effective treatments for anxiety — something many of us could benefit from what’s turning into an epidemic of stress.
But tech companies have little incentive to prove their products work to treat stress and anxiety, experts caution.It’s not scientific or statistically significant or anything, but the strongest feedback I feel we get is that anyone who hears about this product says, ‘Oh, I need one,’ ” said Shiri Perciger, chief marketing officer at Reflect, which makes the Orb.It’s easy to see the appeal of body-based therapies for stressed-out people. Even though there is little evidence linking stress to screen use, we are wary of our phones, the data they collect and the stress they drop into our laps at a moment’s notice.
A widely cited 1992 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry established that meditation has long-lasting positive effects for people with anxiety and panic disorders, and a 2017 study found that biofeedback training with heart rate led to significant drops in self-reported anxiety.There are benefits for companies, too. Meditation and biofeedback aren’t tainted by the scandals surrounding other types of mental-health tech, such as text-based therapy apps. (Leading therapy app Talkspace gave its employees burner phones to leave good reviews and bury bad ones, the New York Times reported, while BetterHelp came under fire for spotty service and rote responses to patients.)Tech meets body-based therapiesIn his book,
“The Body Keeps the Score,”clinician and researcher Bessel van der Kolk criticized mental-health practitioners for sidelining body-based treatments, and he named meditation and biofeedback as therapies with the potential to remake the field. Now tech companies are repackaging these approaches in products that are easy to use.Both meditation and biofeedback involve paying attention to the body: Meditators often focus on the breath or another physical sensation, while biofeedback measures your breath, heart rate or brain waves and presents you with some signal based on that data. For instance, the Reflect Orb measures two physiological signs of stress — heart rate variability, which is the length of the pauses between different heartbeats, and electrodermal activity from the sweat glands on your fingers.
Meanwhile, a soft light on top of the Orb changes from purple to blue to white as your body calms down.Just by thinking about these bodily functions, people start trying to change them, said Perciger of Reflect. Some people naturally start taking longer, deeper breaths. Others find different ways — even ones they don’t consciously notice – to change the Orb’s readings.Alphabeats draws on similar ideas. After pairing the app with your Spotify account, you lie down, set your phone on your belly and start listening to music. In one exercise, a subtle buzzing sound plays over your songs until you slow your breath and heart rate enough for it to go away. In another, the app subtly adjusts the quality of the audio in response to your body.
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Dutch startup Alphabeats monitors your stress level as you use it and rewards users for chilling and punishes them if they don’t. Utilizing your phone accelerometer and GPS sensors it measures your breathing subtly changing the sound of your favorite track along the way. Jur Vellema said “the brain is always searching for most optimal sound so in order to get there it will always try to find a solution to get better music experience and we reward for the search for better music .”
EINDHOVEN, 15 June 2021 by AlphaBeats
You use your smartphone to measure your stress levels, resting it on your midsection to measure breathing or placing your finger on your camera to measure heart rate variability.
EINDHOVEN, 26 April 2021 by AlphaBeats
AlphaBeats here with our monthly newsletter to keep you up to date with everything that is happening around our start-up.
This time we thought it would be cool to share some facts about you, our followers and beta testers, as well as some interesting (and disturbing) insights about stress — the problem we’re on a mission to tackle!
A few months ago we conducted a survey among all our beta testers (i.e., most of you reading this blog) to get to know you and your relationship with stress a little better. Your answers told us a few interesting things.
First of all, you all have busy lives, at least that’s what 85% of you reported. 68% said that stress is influencing their lives, with 64% experiencing high to very high stress levels. And 69% of you confessed having difficulties relaxing. We guess that’s why you became a beta tester with us.
When asking about your age (how rude of us!) we discovered that most of you (75.4%) are between 26 and 55 years old. That’s roughly the age of the working population. It’s a well known fact that most people experience stress at work. In the US 70% of all people report work as the main source of stress. Research conducted here in The Netherlands showed that 17% of the working population suffered symptoms of burn-out in 2019. That’s an alarming 1.3 million employees. It’s clear something has to be done. (We’re working on it!)
We also found out that most of you guys are, well, guys. Our beta testing population is composed of 67.1% men versus 32.6% of women. What’s going on here? Do women not experience stress?
On the contrary, a US stress study found that women are more likely than men (28% of all women versus 20% of all men) to report high levels of stress. Although the study showed that women are slightly better than men (35% vs. 30%) of successfully managing stress, they’re both not doing great.
When the US study asked about how people cope with stress, most named sedentary activities like reading, listening to music and watching television in order to relax. Good news for us, since listening to AlphaBeats is also done while sitting down. Needless to say, it’s our ambition that we will be included as a stress management activity in future research. (We’re working on it!)
So what’s the reason for the relative scarcity of women in our beta testing community? Without wanting to play psychologist (or worse, sexist), we think it may have something to do with the fact that men are generally more interested in technology and more drawn to a technical solution for managing stress. Which is what we have to offer.
Yet needless to say, AlphaBeats is for women too! And we definitely want more women in our testing squad. So please, women everywhere, come and register with us as a beta tester. And all of you reading this, please inspire your wives, girlfriends, daughters, aunts, nieces, women friends and women colleagues to register with us. Experience how our technology nudges you into the relaxing alpha state while listening to your favourite music.
It’s free. And it may even work.
More about the stress research featured above:
BRUSSEL, 14 maart 2021 door Sarah Lamote
13 miljoen Nederlanders mogen woensdag naar de stembus. En die zijn Mark Rutte allesbehalve beu. Zijn liberale VVD vlamt in de peilingen. Is de kous daarmee af? De Tijd trok naar Eindhoven. Een stad met een Silicon Valley, gedupeerden in de toeslagenaffaire en ideologische busritten. ‘Door Rutte zijn besparingen hebben we te weinig ziekenhuisbedden.’
Slimste vierkante kilometer
Eerst de winnaars. Daarvoor moeten we naar ‘de slimste vierkante kilometer’ van Nederland: de High Tech Campus van Eindhoven, op een half uurtje bussen van het station. Denk de lege kantoren en de verlaten koffiebar weg en je kan het knisperende ondernemingsklimaat bijna horen. Kleine start-ups en beursgenoteerde bedrijven die aan een foodtruck techno- logie uitwisselen, na een gezamenlijke meeting even rond de kickertafel staan of een pizza eten die net door een drone werd geleverd. Dat laatste is echt het plan.
Volgens het Amerikaanse tijdschrift Fortune zou deze plek weleens het volgende Silicon Valley kunnen worden. De brede regio Eindhoven noemt men Brainport – in navolging van de Airport van Amsterdam en de Seaport in Rotterdam – en is goed voor 2,5 procent van het Nederlandse bruto binnenlands product (bbp). Er zijn 230 bedrijven en 12.000 werknemers met wel 100 nationaliteiten.
Han is een van hen. In zijn hippe kantoor – met kickertafel – praat hij enthousiast over zijn start-up Alphabeats. Via data over je stressniveau maken ze dat je favoriete muziek je binnen de tien minuten ontspant. ‘Minder stress, betere mens’, zegt Han. Of beter: ‘Inner peace is outer peace’. In de slimste vierkante kilometer is Engels de voertaal.
Maar lang niet iedereen past in het profiel van de polyglotte ondernemers met branie. Nederland worstelt met de twee- deling in de maatschappij. Aan de ene kant de hoogopgeleiden die gemakkelijk de vruchten kunnen plukken van economische ontwikkelingen. Aan de andere kant mensen die de trein aan zich voorbij zien denderen. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, de oud-minister van Financiën (PvdA), noemde het ooit de ‘schizofrene arbeidsmarkt’. Heel West-Europa staat voor die uitdaging, al stellen onze noorderburen ze wel scherp.
EINDHOVEN, 3 March 2021.
AlphaBuddy – Active stress relief through a music bio hearable. A unique joint development project of AlphaBeats and FreeSense Solutions supported by the MRE Stimuleringsfonds
The AlphaBuddy project is one of the promising winning projects in the Spring 2020 tender of the MRE (Metropool Regio Eindhoven) Stimuleringsfonds.
The project has the objective to provide a revolutionary new technology that helps you to relax, unwind and prevents stress in a comfortable way using your own favourite music, smart phone and earbuds.
Thanks to the MRE support the project will lead to demonstrators by mid 2021 suited for initial tests with end-users to validate the intended impact.
AlphaBeats, founded in 2019, is an Eindhoven based health tech venture. AlphaBeats provides a unique scientific proven solution to effectively train your brain getting into a higher relaxation mode.
Measuring the user’s stress level using real time bio-signals, like respiration, heart rate and HRV (Heart Rate Variability) the AlphaBeats algorithm, combined with artificial intelligence, uses biofeedback signals to enhance the user’s favourite music. As you relax, music fidelity increases.
By listening to your own music for 10 minutes a day, the music biofeedback enables an implicit and highly convenient way to unwind from daily stress with a lasting effect.
In this MRE project the AlphaBeats algorithm and App will be adapted to work with the heart rate signals of the FreeSense bio-hearable called “Buddy”. Demonstrators will be tested among several target groups to validate the impact.
FreeSense Solutions is a vitality tech SME active in the Eindhoven Brainport region. Its main product is the Buddy technology which combines sonification, bio sensing, data processing and high bandwidth connectivity into a single in-ear wearable. The Buddy is a platform product and can run tailored applications such as the AlphaBeats App next to personal assistant, coaching or monitoring applications for sports, health/care, education and (desk-bound) professionals.
Hearables can help achieve wellness and performance outcomes, while providing valuable feedback through real-time biometrics of your personal wellbeing and quality of life.
Growth in Hearables and their applications is expected to accelerate in the next years according several sources, see for example: https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankfitzpatrick/2021/01/01/5-key-hearables-trends-for-2021/
In this MRE project the FreeSense Buddy platfom will be adapted to work with the AlphaBeats App by sending accurate real-time heart rate signals as well as receiving the music adapted by biofeedback. Other features of the Buddy platform will be tested as well. Demonstrators will be tested among several target groups to validate the impact and user experience.
The MRE Stimuleringsfonds has the objective to stimulate innovative collaborative projects to enforce the regional economy. The overall ambition of the Metropool Regio Eindhoven is to develop the Brainport region towards an economic world player combined with the regional identity.
If you are interested or want to have more information please contact Johan Kortas, email@example.com
If you happen to be one of our beta testers, we’re so grateful to you for subscribing! If you’re not a beta tester but you’d like to subscribe, also let us know. With this monthly newsletter we want to keep you up to date about what’s happening with AlphaBeats as we’re gearing up to get our product ready for the beta testing phase and our market launch. Join us for this awesome ride!
AlphaBeats is not only a cool product, it’s also a team of enthusiastic people with a passion to create a better, healthier and less stress-ridden world. We want to tell you a little more about these guys. (Yes, they’re all guys. Stereotypical, isn’t it?) Who are they and what makes them tick? For this newsletter we spoke with AlphaBeats’ CEO and co-founder Han Dirkx.
Han Dirkx is perhaps not your average start-up founder. First of all, he’s not really a techie. He studied economics at the university of Maastricht and worked in telecom, automotive and media for several years. After attending a seminar by the famous business coach and motivational speaker Tony Robbins, Han decided to quit his job and follow his lifelong passion of becoming an artist. “I’ve always been a creative person, but I also had an ambition to become rich. Then I discovered that just making money is actually pretty empty and did not fulfil me. And although becoming an artist was challenging financially, it taught me so much about my purpose in life. I discovered I’m someone who wants to create things and contribute something meaningful to the world. That’s also what I’m trying to do with AlphaBeats.”
Han first heard about the technology behind AlphaBeats at a networking event at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. He decided to join a team of enthusiastic techies to try and develop the technology, into an actual product. “It was a little weird sitting at that first meeting, me as an artist among a group of tech nerds. But we got along right away and we’ve made so much progress since then.”
To be sure, Han also suffers from stress. “In business you sometimes have to give unpleasant messages that create friction with people. That’s something that can really stress me out. I’m also a father with three adolescent kids, which can make me worry like crazy. In the past I’ve suffered from financial worries and health issues. So stress is no stranger to me.”
To deal with stress Han practices yoga and meditation and likes going on long walks. Since a few months he also owns a prototype of the AlphaBeats headphones, which he uses almost on a daily basis, usually at the end of his day. While listening to his favourite Spotify playlists, the technology uses his biofeedback signals to tweak the music in such a way that his brain is stimulated to create relaxing alpha waves. “Because I’ve done it so often, I get into the zone very quickly. I can tell the alpha waves are kicking in when I start yawning. And afterwards I feel so peaceful, like I’ve just had a good meditation or came back from a nice long walk.”
Han uses different playlists for different moods. He has one to relax, one to energise him and even one that stimulates trust. His musical styles vary a lot. “For relaxation I love Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, but I also listen to Bach’s ‘Air’, which is such a beautiful piece of music. When I want energy I often play ‘Eye of the Tiger’, very cliché I know, but it works for me. And I’m a huge fan of the Beastie Boys, my kids laugh at me about that.”
Check out Han’s personal Spotify playlists here:
EINDHOVEN, 16 February 2021. AlphaBeats to pitch in the Wearables & Wellbeing category
AlphaBeats, a healthtech startup based at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, is selected as a finalist in the Wearables & Wellbeing category for the 11th annual SXSW Pitch®. SXSW is the festival where music, tech and entrepreneurship meet, where people come to relax and find inspiration … the perfect venue for AlphaBeats.
SXSW Pitch is the marquee event of South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Online (March 16-20, 2021), where leading startups from around the world showcase some of the most impressive technology innovations to a panel of hand-picked judges and a virtual audience. Out of the more than 500 companies that applied to present at SXSW Pitch 2021, AlphaBeats was selected among the 40 finalists spanning eight separate categories.
2021 Categories include Artificial Intelligence, Robotics & Voice, Enterprise & Smart Data, Entertainment, Gaming & Content, Future of Work, Health, Wearables & Wellbeing, Innovative World Technologies, Smart Cities, Transportation & Logistics, Social & Culture.
The two-day event will be presented on Wednesday, March 17th and Thursday, March 18th during SXSW Online. The winners for each category will be announced during the SXSW Pitch Award Ceremony on Thursday, March 18th at 3:05 pm.
AlphaBeats will present along with four other companies in the Wearables & Wellbeing category on February 23.
AlphaBeats is the perfect mix of music and tech – all in one app – to help users relax and inspire.
AlphaBeats combines biofeedback technology with music to drastically reduce the effects of stress. With this, the startup fights the other global epidemic less visible than Covid-19, namely chronic stress.
AlphaBeats has the sole, exclusive rights from Philips to use the electronics giant’s audio neurofeedback algorithm. That algorithm, combined with artificial intelligence, uses biofeedback signals to enhance the user’s favorite music. As you relax, music fidelity increases.
“Combined with AlphaBeats’ first-of-its-kind braintech, your phone turns into a biosensor measuring how stressed you are,” said CMO and co-founder Dr. Jur Vellema, who is a surgeon. “And the best part is, you don’t have to buy fancy headsets. You can use your phone, which means we’re hardware-agnostic.”
“We’re excited to take the stage next to some of the most ambitious startup talents in the world with the creative new ideas to change it. We’re looking forward to showcasing our solution to a global audience and to connect to the SXSW ecosystem,” said AlphaBeats CEO Han Dirkx.
“SXSW Pitch is having an incredible year in the recruiting, and showcasing of, the best and the brightest startups from around the globe. Despite the global pandemic, the startup community has responded positively to our call for participation, and with this SXSW is able to feature an incredible class of startups that we believe will change the landscape of the technology world,” said SXSW Pitch Event Producer Chris Valentine.
AlphaBeats, founded in 2019, is an Eindhoven-based healthtech venture that uses Philips technology and implicit learning to lower stress by a factor of three by simply listening to music as little as 10 minutes per day. AlphaBeats directly improves quality of life, making users feel more fit and healthy and giving them a higher level of resilience.
Han Dirkx, CEO AlphaBeats
+31 6 45790013
BERLIN | EINDHOVEN, 8 February. AlphaBeats partners with Kenkou for stress measurement without the use of wearables
“A mobile phone will be able to measure heart rate variability in a medically correct way.”Eindhoven-based health tech startup AlphaBeats is partnering with Berlin-based Kenkou to develop stress measurement that does not require wearables. The use of a cell phone will be sufficient for a medically sound measurement of heart rate variability. AlphaBeats uses a technology developed by Philips that combines biofeedback with music to reduce the effects of stress. For this goal, Kenkou’s technology can use a cell phone as a biosensor – exactly what is needed to generate the feedback on which AlphaBeats has built its functionality.
Earlier this month, AlphaBeats announced an investment by LUMO Labs. Both organizations are based at High tech Campus Eindhoven. The investment will enable the startup to cover a period of 18 months for market validation and a market launch. The agreement with Kenkou is part of that process, says AlphaBeats CEO Han Dirkx. “The momentum we have gained thanks to the investment can be maintained and strengthened with this. Through the studies that Kenkou will help us with, we can establish that our goals are achievable in a medically sound way, without the need for additional wearables.”
Kenkou’s mission is to create accessible solutions around mobile health measurements. Their SDK (software development kit) can be integrated into health apps to measure and analyze vital cardiovascular data. For this purpose, the smartphone camera is used as a certified medical device with ECG quality. The biomarker heart rate variability (HRV) is central in this process.
“Our patented algorithm adjusts your favorite music in such a way that your brain enters a relaxed state: the alpha mode.”
Jur Vellema, AlphaBeats
AlphaBeats wants to use music-based biofeedback to help reduce chronic stress and its associated effects such as poor sleep, increased blood pressure, lowered immune system, anxiety, and depression. AlphaBeats measures stress levels through breathing and heart rate variability. Co-founder surgeon Dr. Jur Vellema: “AlphaBeats makes an analysis of your real-time brain activity based on this information. The patented algorithm then adjusts your favorite music in such a way that your brain enters a relaxed state: the alpha mode.”
The collaboration with Kenkou will speed up the market launch, Dirkx expects. “And that’s important because we now have 1400 beta testers who are eager to try out our solution and give us feedback. After completing that phase, we want to quickly test with a larger group of about five to ten thousand users to show that it works. With that data in our pocket, we’ll start talking about collaborations with potential partners such as music streaming services and manufacturers of wearables capable of taking real-time, continuous HRV measurements.”
In the coming months, Kenkou will be looking at ways to further improve the outcome of the measurement process. “You can imagine that the feedback we get while someone is listening to the music has to be as correct as possible. That means that while listening to someone’s favorite music you want to exclude the other signals wherever you can. How best to do that, we want to explore with the test group.”
HILVERSUM, Nederland 27 January. Muziek app haalt trucje uit met hersenen voor extra ontspanning (only in Dutch)
Vorig jaar hadden 1,3 miljoen Nederlandse werknemers last van burn-outklachten als gevolg van stress. Dat kost werkgevers miljarden euro’s. En de coronacrisis zorgt ervoor dat we ons behoorlijk druk kunnen maken. Het kan daardoor moeilijker zijn om nu te ontspannen. Maar een smartphone, muziek en algoritmes zouden je daarbij kunnen helpen, stelt een appmaker.