Spire breath-tracker review: Can this wearable really ease stress?

Spire is a well-designed device that encourages you to take deep breaths, but I'm not convinced it improves your mental health.

Breathing comes naturally to most humans, so a device that reminds you to take deep breaths seems a little strange. But your breathing rhythms say a lot about your state of mind, which is why Spire tracks your breaths to tell you when you need to calm down.

Spire is a beautifully designed activity tracker that no one will see you wear. You clip it to your waistband or on your bra with the Bluetooth stone touching your skin for accurate breath-tracking.

After you sync the device with your phone and install the Spire app, you can watch your breath charted as a soothing line in real time. If you allow the app to access your calendar, camera roll, and location, Spire can show you whether your streaks of tense breathing occur during certain meetings, or whether you’re most calm at home.

As a Type A perfectionist who hates missing deadlines or running late for events, I expected Spire to tell me how tense I was. Instead, I discovered I’m a very focused person, rarely calm or stressed.

The device knows when you’re tense because your breath quickens and becomes erratic. Spire will send you a notification on your phone or Apple Watch to chill out, and the app guides you through calming breathing exercises with mini-meditation sessions called boosts.

Seeing when you’re tense, calm, and focused is useful, but Spire doesn’t really get to the root of the problem: how to prevent stressful episodes, which would go a long way toward improving your mental health. As an activity-tracker, Spire is pretty bare-bones—it counts steps automatically, but it doesn’t know what type of exercise you’re doing.

I really like Spire. I love the design of both the tracker and its charging base. The app offers a solid overview of your day’s activity and mental state. But $130 for a device notifies you when you’re stressed out is a little over-the top. After all, you probably already know. A pricy product that actually gets to the root of your stress? That would be worth every cent.