Health & Wellbeing

Review: Pip puts stress relief at your fingertips

Review: Pip puts stress relief...
The Pip fits easily into your thumb and forefinger
The Pip fits easily into your thumb and forefinger
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Opening screen for the Clarity app
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Opening screen for the Clarity app
A list of the techniques available for the Clarity app
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A list of the techniques available for the Clarity app
Ocean waves are one of three sounds available on the Clarity app
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Ocean waves are one of three sounds available on the Clarity app
Crowd noise accompanies this image as one of three sound choices with the Clarity app
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Crowd noise accompanies this image as one of three sound choices with the Clarity app
This screen appears after each session to allow access to your various scores
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This screen appears after each session to allow access to your various scores
The Clarity app lets you track a variety of variables including the longest number of consecutive uses
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The Clarity app lets you track a variety of variables including the longest number of consecutive uses
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The Clarity app can let you track a multitude of different elements related to your sessions
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The Clarity app can let you track a multitude of different elements related to your sessions
More information available through the Clarity app
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More information available through the Clarity app
See your use of each app compares to one another
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See your use of each app compares to one another
Additional insights available through the Clarity and the Loom apps
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Additional insights available through the Clarity and the Loom apps
See your progress overall and by each day
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See your progress overall and by each day
The Loom uses visuals to provide biofeedback on your stress and focus levels
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The Loom uses visuals to provide biofeedback on your stress and focus levels
The start of one of three landscape choices in the Loom app - a winter scene
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The start of one of three landscape choices in the Loom app - a winter scene
The winter scene in the Loom app about half way through a session
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The winter scene in the Loom app about half way through a session
The Pip comes in white or black
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The Pip comes in white or black
The Pip senses stress by measuring EDA through your fingertips
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The Pip senses stress by measuring EDA through your fingertips
The Pip's small size and accompanying app make it easy to use just about anywhere
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The Pip's small size and accompanying app make it easy to use just about anywhere
The Pip fits easily into your thumb and forefinger
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The Pip fits easily into your thumb and forefinger
The Pip and accompanying apps make it easy to set up and use
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The Pip and accompanying apps make it easy to set up and use
The Pip can easily be carried and used anywhere
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The Pip can easily be carried and used anywhere
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The Pip, created by Galvanic, has been on the market for about 18 months and it works by detecting changes in the skin's ability to conduct an electrical current or what is called Electrodermal Activity (EDA). Hold the Pip between your thumb and forefinger and it senses the EDA to determine whether you are stressing or relaxing. The audio and visual elements with the accompanying Pip apps provide the biofeedback to help you learn how to control the former and induce the latter

The proliferation of devices is often blamed for the increased stress people are feeing, whether it be real or imagined. Either way, we were trying not to get too anxious about what we'd find out about our own stress levels when we were given a Pip device for review.

It's a pretty easy setup with either an Android or iOS device once the Pip is charged. Download one of three different apps created for the Pip (Clarity, the Loom, and Relax and Race), make sure your Bluetooth connection is on, pare your device with the Pip, set up your user information, pick the app you want to use, and you're good to go. Pretty stress-free.

We got an overview from the Galvanic marketing staff ahead of time and were encouraged to use the Clarity app first, given that it was more focused on introducing the user to relaxation techniques rather than expecting you to know them from the start.

The Pip can easily be carried and used anywhere
The Pip can easily be carried and used anywhere

What makes Clarity interesting is that it uses sound to indicate stress levels – the more stress the Pip senses, the louder the sound. You can choose between rain, ocean or crowd noise. A quick review of all three and we decided to stay with rain.

You can also choose between four different stress relief techniques that include breathing, mantra, body scan and unguided. Once you've chosen one, a calm, female voice directs you to sit relaxed, close your eyes and gently hold the Pip.

After you hear the initial directions, the sound of the rain takes over. The more your mind wanders, the louder the rain gets, turning into a full on thunder storm when you're really letting it go its own way or if you start thinking about something really bugging you. Settle back into whichever relaxation technique you've chosen and the storm begins to subside.

We tried the first three relaxation techniques a couple of times, but settled on using the breathing technique through most of the Clarity sessions.

You also have the ability to choose the length of your sessions -- anywhere from two to 60 minutes. Five-minute sessions seemed to be about as much time as we could squeeze in, and we tried to do them twice a day.

The Loom uses visuals to provide biofeedback on your stress and focus levels
The Loom uses visuals to provide biofeedback on your stress and focus levels

While Clarity provides the feedback via sound, the Loom app does so through three different landscapes: winter where your stress level turns the landscape from winter to spring, a twilight scene that turns to daylight, and a forest scape that goes from dark to light. It's worth noting that each of these have a very detailed visual landscape and accompanying music, so they do require a longer down load time.

Regardless of the app you choose, the goal is to get as close to 100 percent relaxation at the end of each session as possible. Surprisingly, the best we could do was 86 percent, which was the first day we used it. We managed a few days where we got close, but never quite achieved that highest score. Maybe it was performance anxiety.

Additional insights available through the Clarity and the Loom apps
Additional insights available through the Clarity and the Loom apps

We also thought the visual nature of the Loom might lead to a better score given that it allows you to actually see how you're "distressing," but that wasn't the case. We actually scored lower when using the Loom app than the Clarity app.

The only hiccup we ran into was that early on the app would stop right after the session was over, so about a fourth of our early sessions were never recorded. A short call with the Galvanic team cleared that up and we were able to get everything synced up again. But we lost our information from those interrupted sessions.

Devices that help reduce stress and help you train the brain to focus have become more prolific over the last several years. Several have been introduced that focus on brain wave monitoring to either provide a basis for biofeedback or at least a visualization of your brain activity under stress. These include the Muse headband and the Melomind headset.

Pip is different because it's measuring the activity at the skin level, and it has size and convenience going for it. It fits in the palm of your hand with room to spare, allowing you to use it anywhere and without donning anything on your head.

While we probably could have seen more improvement in our ability to focus and destress had we used the Pip more consistently each day and over a longer period of time, we did see the benefit of using it during the several weeks we had it. Despite the initial app glitch, we think Galvanic is onto something.

Anyone interested in purchasing the Pip can do so for US$179 on the company website, or they can find it on Amazon or Best Buy.

For more information about the Pip, check out the video.

Product page: Pip

The Pip - See The Difference

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