Meet PIP: A Handheld Device to Reduce Stress

July 18, 2013

9:18 am

For $79, you can now preorder a device on Kickstarter that could accelerate all your efforts at reducing stress.

The PIP, or “personal input pod,” is a small sensor that you hold between your fingertips. It measures your galvanic skin response, the sweat on your fingertips caused by the fight-or-flight response. If you hold the PIP and try your go-to stress reducer – like deep breathing, walking, or Game of Thrones – you can see exactly what works and what doesn’t.

In our hyper-stressed society, relaxation techniques abound. From meditation to yoga to orange juice, gurus claim to have found the secret to stress reduction. National Geographic did a documentary called Stress: Portrait of a Killer, and Tech Cocktail has even weighed in on how stress works.

The problem here is the lack of feedback. We may feel better in the short term, but how do we know that any particular technique is really working? Do we always notice our blood pressure spikes during tense meetings or crucial phone calls?

Galvanic, makers of the PIP, wants to provide that feedback. But not just with numbers and charts – with flowering trees and flying dragons and cute pets.

To go along with the PIP device, Galvanic created an iOS and Android app with games. To play, you simply hold the PIP – and the lower your stress, the better you do. In Relax and Race, your speed increases as your stress decreases. In The Loom, a winter scene gradually turns into a spring one as your relaxation deepens. In Zen Buddies (coming soon), you feed little tamagotchi-like creatures with your units of relaxation. And Galvanic is releasing software called an SDK so developers can make their own creative apps for the PIP.

PIP - Relax and Race

PIP - The Loom

For entrepreneurs in particular, CTO Daragh McDonnell suggests a 10-minute daily session with the PIP. For example, you might unwind at the end of the day with The Loom, which is a more meditative experience. Or, before a meeting with a VC, calm your nerves with Relax and Race. He himself uses the PIP when he first gets to work, after braving traffic and a stressful commute.

I think the PIP would be even better if it were a wearable device, something you put on all day that notifies you when your stress is spiking. That way, you could identify not just relaxation techniques that work, but the specific triggers of your tension.

I can only hope that’s part of Galvanic’s big vision, which is to raise awareness about stress, reduce it, and “relax the whole world.”

“With the advent of all these smart devices where people are absolutely, 100 percent, continuously always-on connected, they’re contributing to your stress because it’s getting harder to switch off,” says McDonnell. “We have a solution that actually leverages that platform rather than getting the user to tear themselves away from it – we know they won’t.”

Galvanic plans to use the Kickstarter funding for manufacturing, and have the PIPs ready to ship in February 2014. With two days left on their Kickstarter campaign and only 80 percent funded, the Galvanic team could easily be in major stress mode. Let’s hope they spend a lot of their time testing the PIP prototype – for their sake as much as ours.


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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact