The Most Advanced Wearable Fitness Device Is Finally Here

We have reached the point where fitness tracking is ubiquitous in our society. For a relatively low price, it’s easy to find a wearable device that does basic tracking of how many steps you take, what your heart rate is, what your sleep patterns are, and so on. Such technology has become baseline in wearables. And if you’re just looking for help counting your steps, or some inspiration to put more effort into getting a goodnight’s sleep, the products on the market are just fine — they do the trick.

But with only one piece of equipment used to gather data, you’re not getting a full picture or really advanced reading of your body’s movements and metrics. To this end, unfortunately, wearing a popular fitness tracker is nothing like going to the doctor and getting a checkup.

Most trackers fall short for this reason: While the consumer industry leaders like Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, and Misfit have enough technology to document steps and pulses, they don’t have the ability to put together the bigger picture of their user’s health. Essentially, they’re not dynamic enough to be clinical-quality. And when you’re looking to track your vitals, why settle for anything short of what a doctor might use?

That’s where Biostrap comes in. They assert that their aim is to change the industry standard, and to this end, they have created a device with biometrics so advanced that physicians actually use the same tech to monitor their patient’s physical health. So you can count on an accurate and dependable recording, and wearing a Biostrap feels like you’re going to the doctor.

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Investing in a Biostrap is taking a fast-track road to getting into shape. While it’s a bit more expensive than the other trackers on the market, priced at $249, it’s a serious device that’s perfect for people who want to get (or already are) serious about their health.

The Biostrap is a platform of two different devices that work in tandem to capture all of your body’s efforts. Together, the wristband and shoe clip create a precise picture of your every move. To break down the specifics, the Biostrap extracts more than 29 parameters to offer reliable accounts of user’s Heart Rate Variability, Oxygen Saturation, Respiratory Rate, and more. And because exercise is more than just “steps taken in a day” it’s programmed to recognize over 20 different kinds of physical activities. From squats, to strides on the elliptical, to butterfly strokes in the pool—the Biostrap is counting every physical activity its users engage in.

And if it doesn’t recognize what they’re doing, they can teach it to. After recording a few reps of the movement, the Biostrap will remember it for the future. You’ll never again have to wonder: if you work out and no one else is at the gym, have you even worked out at all? If you’re wearing a Biostrap, it’s always watching.

Why People Are Moving to Apps to Get Therapy

While the nature of mental health issues has not changed, the way people are getting help is. United States startups are disrupting the talk therapy tradition with apps that give you unlimited access to therapists. Angela Waters explores the virtual deconstruction of the therapist’s couch.

Traditional therapy happens on a couch, once a week, for 60 minutes, at roughly $100 per session — while it works for some, a lot of people fall through the cracks of the mental health system. To fill these gaps, tech companies have sprouted up offering a different take.

“I realized that the mental health system in the United States is completely broken,” Roni Frank, co-founder of online therapy app Talkspace told Highsnobiety. “Recent studies show that one in five Americans — 50 million people — suffers from mental health issues each year. However, 70 percent of those have no access to mental health services.”

Cost is one of the main barriers to therapy as many insurance policies only cover physical health. Even among those who can afford a therapist, there is often an old-fashioned conviction that you should just be able to pick yourself up by your bootstraps instead of asking for help. But even if money and stigma are not a problem, there is the complicated process of picking the right therapist and finding a time to put sessions into your schedule.

The main difference between traditional therapy and mental health apps is that they make the process casual with less commitment. An algorithm helps you find a therapist and switching to find the right fit is a quick chat to customer service.

You are accessing therapists the way you would speak to your friends, via text, video messaging/calling and voice notes. This also means you have way more access to your therapist.

Talkspace offers an unlimited text, video and audio messaging plan starting at $32/week, where therapists respond one or two times a day five days a week.

“You are talking to a therapist the way you would friends and colleagues so it makes the whole process feel more normal, compared to going to a private practice which feels like a doctor’s room. It is very intimidating to go to the waiting room and sit on the couch,” Frank said.

Maybe this is what has attracted 500,000 people to the platform, sixty percent of which have never tried traditional therapy

Couple’s Therapy

The idea for Talkspace actually came to Frank when she and her husband were going through couple’s therapy. Although she credits the sessions with saving her marriage, she believes that putting feuding partners in a room with a therapist may not be the best way to deal with relationship problems.

“In traditional couple’s therapy the couple has to be together on the couch for 90 minutes, which is more expensive than regular therapy because it is longer than a single-person session,” Frank said. “It can actually be more stressful for the couple to sit in the same room together. There is too much tension and too much anxiety.”

She argues that in a messaging-based model some of the heat is being removed from the fights and it gives the two people more distance to really listen to each other and understand what the other person is saying. Another upside to the alternative model is a more immediate response to active issues.

“Let’s say they have a huge fight, right there and then they can reach out to a therapist and get help. Relationships are not easy; there is a lot of drama,” Frank said. “Couples deal with heavy things like anxiety and cheating. Sometimes it is unbearable to wait to talk to a therapist so we are providing immediate help.”

But Not Everyone Is a Fan

While many are warming to the casual vibe of therapy app platforms, some insist there are reasons traditional therapists do things a certain way and that cutting corners to reduce the costs can be dangerous when dealing with mental health.

Marlene Maheu, executive director of the Telebehavioral Health Institute, has been working with virtual therapy for more than twenty years and sees major red flags with popular mental health apps.

“Many groups use licensed professionals, but in many cases those professionals have absolutely no training and for the most part are unsophisticated about what their obligations are,” Maheu told Highsnobiety. “There are licensed people doing illegal and unethical things at a cut rate. This means that the consumer is not getting the services that they expect when they approach these professionals.”

One of her main concerns about online platforms is anonymity. While many apps let you volunteer what information you give to a therapist, including your name and locations, this prohibits therapists from contacting the proper authorities if a patient plans to harm themselves or others.

“The problem is everybody looks alike when they are showing up the first time,” Maheu said. “Most of these websites will say if you are suicidal or homicidal, don’t come here because we can’t help you, but the truth is that every clinician worth their salt knows that people overcompensate in the first few sessions, then they may fall apart and become violent.”

Another concern with anonymity is that a therapist may not have all the information necessary to help someone.

“You have to find out what the situation is – you have to do an intake. With some of these companies you just type in a question and you are supposed to be getting a legitimate answer; that is not psychotherapy. If the person is going to talk to you about a problem and not ask about if you are taking medication, if you have physical disorders then it is kind of strange. How can they council if they haven’t ruled out a physical problem,” Maheu said.

She added that a virtual therapist has to actually do more work than an in-person therapist to deliver the same quality of care, because they cannot use sensory cues to pick up on things that a person may not be telling them.

“There is definitely a benefit to virtual therapy, but the rubber meets the road with the training of the therapist,” Maheu said. “Look at the therapists and their bios, if they aren’t certified in online therapy, you need to ask yourself if you want to be their experiment.”

Twitter Lost 2 Million Users This Quarter, and Now Its Stock Is Tanking

Twitter‘s pre-market trading is down 9.73% at $17.71 a share. The company has reported an average of 68 million monthly active users in the United States this past quarter, down from 70 million in the previous quarter. However, its revenue grew at the same time. Twitter beat Wall Street’s predicted revenue of $537 million USD by $37 million USD, with earning per shares coming higher at $0.12 than the expected $0.05, making this the eleventh quarter Twitter exceeded earnings expectations.

During the first quarter, the company grew 9% in monthly users due to President Trump‘s frequent use of the platform. Twitter has also gone through redesigns of its web and mobile interface in the second quarter to compete with Facebook and other rivals, as well as to narrow their focus on “live” content. Twitter informed shareholders in a letter that it was able to improve engagement thanks to timeline and notifications improvements, attributing the inactivity of user growth to ”lower seasonal benefits and other factors.”

Read Twitter’s Q2 shareholders letter here. 

Scientists Say You Should Play Video Games On Your Breaks At Work

It’s no secret that our jobs — often riddled with endless to-do lists and office politics — can be a source of tension. But a short break with some video games may be one of the best ways to help us relieve stress at work, a recent study suggests.

In surveys by the American Psychological Association from 2007 to 2015, work was consistently one of the most commonly named stressors, while a separate survey suggests that 80% of Americans may be stressed at work. All of that adds up — and considering stress is linked to impulsive decision-making, lowered productivity and a higher chance of mistakes, employers should really care about how we feel at work.

To test what helps alleviate employees the most, scientists asked 66 study participants to perform computer-based work that induces “cognitive fatigue,” which is often the result of stress, frustration or anxiety. Then they asked the participants to take a break, telling them to either rest quietly in the room without a phone or computer, take part in a guided relaxation exercise or play a video game called Sushi Cat for a bit.

Participants who just sat there reported little positive results after their break, while those who did de-stressing exercises felt less negative effects, the study said. However, only those who played the video game actually reported feeling better.

“We often try to power through the day to get more work finished, which might not be as effective as taking some time to detach for a few minutes,” Michael Rupp, one of the study authors and a doctoral student in human factors and cognitive psychology at the University of Central Florida, said in a release. “People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”

Now, we just have to convince our bosses a PS4 in the office is a worthy expense.

Roomba Has Been Quietly Mapping Your Home, Now It Wants to Sell The Data

In 2015, the Roomba robotic vacuum received a major upgrade to its sensors, letting the robot build a map of the house or apartment it patrols for dirt. And now iRobot, the company behind the Roomba, could make a deal with Amazon, Apple, or Google within the next few years to sell those maps and other user data.

While iRobot CEO Colin Angle insists that providing this data to “the big three” could greatly improve a smart home’s ability to serve customers, this potential deal represents a major privacy concern for people who use the robotic vacuum to clean their home. While most people seem to have more or less come to terms with the fact that their browsing history and online activity is being sold, data collected by a Roomba includes camera footage and updated maps of their personal space.

Angle told Reuters that he felt most people would opt into the services provided by integrating Roomba data with other smart home devices, which could include targeted ads from Amazon or orchestrating indoor lights to be most compatible with the natural light coming in through windows.

Not that consumers would necessarily have a choice in the matter. Gizmodo took a look at Roomba’s terms of service and revealed that iRobot can sell data to other companies or the government whenever any or all of their company is purchased — just like the potential deals that have Angle so excited in the first place.

Roomba develops its maps using cameras and advanced sensors to understand the layout of the room or building it’s cleaning. Previously, robotic vacuums used infrared sensors just to detect obstacles in their immediate paths, with no permanent sense of the space they were cleaning. Going back to that older model of robotic vacuum would sidestep the privacy concerns the Roomba now presents, but it would also mean taking a step back in vacuum quality and navigation.

This Map Shows What Single People Hate the Most in Each State

Hater, a dating app created in the same vein as Tinder, matches people based on things they mutually hate. After all, some of the strongest relationships are built on a foundation of mutual hatred, bolstered by complaining, whining, and general bitching. Thankfully, there’s an app for that, and the people behind Hater have now consolidated their data and come up with a map that shows what each state hates the most. The results are, well, interesting.

Some states have more predictable hates than others. Connecticut hates winter, Hawaii hates people who take videos at concerts, and Illinois hates biting string cheese. And yeah, same! These are perfectly acceptable things to despise, and there is surely plenty of people who can relate.

But some states go extra hard. New Hampshire, for example, goes straight for the jugular and hates God. Delaware hates Casey Affleck, which is both fascinating and confusing. And D.C. hates the idea that everyone has a soulmate, which says a lot about the deep soul-crushing nature of politics.

Apple Unveils New iOS 11 Emojis

We use about 5% of the emojis Apple offers. Still, with every new operating system and fresh batch, we find one or two new ones to work into our texting lexicon. The soon-to-be-released iOS 11 batch is no different. The new collection will include 56 brand spanking new emojis for Apple devotees to explore. While we don’t know all of them, we do have a few to share. In the person category, you have Bearded Guy, Woman with Headscarf, and Breastfeeding. When it comes to food, which happens to be the category we use most, you can now let someone know when you want a Sandwich or a Steak, or you can string them together when you’re craving a steak sandwich. Then there’s a T-Rex, Zebra, Zombie, and Elf, along with randos like Star-Struck and Exploding Head. No release date has been announced, but we imagine they are coming with the iOS 11 release.

Elon Musk Is Relaunching His Mysterious Website X.com

Elon Musk has just relaunched his website x.com. The billionaire recently re-bought the domain, which he lost after PayPal went public. Though no final figure has been confirmed, rumors suggest that he could have paid up to eight figures for the domain, which he previously said was of “great sentimental value” to him.

The site is currently empty, bar a solitary “x” in the lefthand corner, but Musk’s Twitter suggests that more information will be coming tomorrow.

While there’s no indication whether Musk will use the site for a whole new venture or an ongoing one, a new home for SpaceX would obviously be the logical choice. Check back for the announcement as it comes in.

Dating App Announces New Celebrity Lookalike Search Function

Fans of the r/dopplebangher subreddit, where people post nudes of women who look a lot like attractive celebrities, are about to have an official dating app. The developers at Badoo have announced that their app will soon allow users to find new matches based on the celebrities each person looks most like. That means if you’re obsessed with Emma Watson, you might be able to find women in your area who have her pixie-esque face shape.

The app will make connections between regular users and celebrities by enacting facial recognition technology — similar to the algorithm that notices your friends’ faces in Facebook photos and suggests you tag them. Though Badoo will suggest popular celebrities for searches, it will also allow users to upload new photos of celebrities and ask the system to find matches.

Of course, by that logic, people will now be able to upload a photo of anyone on earth, including their own exes and ask Badoo to find them lookalikes. As a Badoo user, you won’t have any idea how your date found you — you could very well look like the guy who broke her heart just weeks ago. It’s probably worth mentioning that the subreddit devoted to this kind of thing is really only half celebrities and half requests for “my ex” or “this girl I once worked with.”

Badoo, a London-based app used primarily outside the United States, was first released in 2006, and is currently the most widely used dating app in the world. Though it still hasn’t overtaken Tinder in the U.S., it’s the biggest dating app in South America, Europe, and Mexico and Central America.

Is Internet Addiction A Real Thing?

When her youngest daughter, Naomi, was in middle school, Ellen watched the teen disappear behind a screen. Her once bubbly daughter went from hanging out with a few close friends after school to isolating herself in her room for hours at a time. (NPR has agreed to use only the pair’s middle names, to protect the teen’s medical privacy.)

“She started just lying there, not moving and just being on the phone,” says Ellen. “I was at a loss about what to do.”

Ellen didn’t realize it then, but her daughter was sinking into a pattern of behavior that some psychiatrists recognize from their patients who abuse drugs or alcohol. It’s a problem, they say, that’s akin to an eating disorder or gambling disorder — some consider it a kind of Internet addiction. Estimates of how many people are affected vary widely, researchers say, and the problem isn’t restricted to kids and teens, though some — especially those who have depression or anxiety disorder — may be particularly vulnerable.

Naomi had always been kind of a nerd — a straight-A student who also sang in a competitive choir. But she desperately wanted to be popular, and the cool kids talked a lot about their latest YouTube favorites.

“I started trying to watch as many videos as I could so, like, I knew as much as they did,” says Naomi. “The second I got out of school, I was checking my phone.” That’s not unusual behavior for many teens and adults these days.

But in her hillside home across the bay from San Francisco, Naomi would dart to her room after school, curling up until after dark, watching video after video after video. When she finally emerged, she says, she was often bleary-eyed, and felt hazy and extremely agitated.

Ellen soon found herself walking on eggshells around her daughter; Naomi was often in a foul mood and quick to anger after staring at her small screen for hours. The anger and gloom were unusual for Naomi, and it went beyond typical teen moodiness, Ellen says. Her parents didn’t realize it yet, but Naomi was falling into clinical depression, and her compulsive use of the Internet was speeding the descent.

The videos turned from comedy to violence

Over time, Naomi started watching videos of girls fighting each other. They’d pull each other’s hair, scratch violently and sometimes knock each other out. Naomi and her friends rooted for certain fighters.

“I think it was just fun to watch because they would make me laugh,” Naomi recalls. “And at that time I was having a pretty hard time dealing with depression and anxiety.”

Naomi’s parents were arguing a lot and she wasn’t connecting with her dad at all. Then her grandmother died. For the first time in her life, it was tough to keep up with school.

“She woke up one morning really depressed, and I brought her to the hospital,” Ellen says quietly. Naomi had received a poor grade on a test and told her mom she wanted to hang herself — she spent nearly a week at a psychiatric hospital under a suicide watch.

After she was released, Naomi turned back to her phone for comfort and companionship. She’d stopped going outside or visiting friends after school. She started clicking on how-to videos about ways to commit suicide. “I got the idea to overdose online,” says Naomi. “I was researching how many pills I had to take to die.”

Three weeks later, she ended up in the hospital again, after downing a bottle of Tylenol.

“She was home alone and we had been told to lock it up, but we just didn’t think this would ever happen,” says Ellen, who is now in tears.

Naomi’s parents were shattered, and desperate to find a way to help their daughter.

The road to recovery

When Naomi was released from her second hospital stay, her family checked her into an addiction recovery center for teens called Paradigm. The high-end facility is a converted mansion at the end of a winding road in San Rafael, Calif. The family is tapping their retirement accounts to pay the $60,000 fee for Naomi’s six-week, in-patient stay.

Jeff Nalin, head psychologist and co-founder of Paradigm, has been treating teens for substance abuse for more than 20 years. In the last few, he says, he’s seen an increasing number of cases similar to Naomi’s. She was diagnosed with a depression that led to what Nalin sees as an addiction disorder.

“I describe a lot of the kids that we see as having just stuck a cork in the volcano,” says Nalin. “Underneath there’s this rumbling going on, but it just rumbles and rumbles until it blows. And it blows with the emergence of a depression, or it emerges with a suicide attempt.”

These teens are using smartphones and tablets, he says, for the same reasons others turn to hard drugs — to numb themselves from what’s really going on inside.

Most teens with this compulsion come to Paradigm because they’ve hit bottom in the same way someone addicted to drugs or alcohol does, Nalin says. But the treatment for compulsive Internet use is trickier, he says, because you can’t really function in today’s society without interacting with the digital world.

“The best analogy is when you have something like an eating disorder,” says Nalin. “You cannot be clean and sober from food. So, you have to learn the skills to deal with it.”

When does obsession become addiction?

“Digital addictions,” whether to social media, video games, texting, shopping or pornography, are not official mental disorders listed in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), and there’s a debate among psychologists about whether that should change.

Dr. Anna Lembke, a Stanford University psychiatrist and assistant professor in addiction medicine, says she is seeing a classic addictive pattern of behavior in many of her clients who compulsively use the Internet.

“Addiction begins with intermittent to recreational use, then progresses into daily use, and then progresses into consequential use, which in some cases will progress to life-threatening use,” Lembke says.

“That’s followed by a pattern of consequences like insomnia, dysfunctional relationships and absent days at work or school,” she says. “That’s the natural narrative arc of any addiction, and the same is true with an Internet addiction.”

China has labeled Internet addiction as a mental disorder, she notes, and that’s surprising — historically the Chinese have considered addiction a moral failing rather than a clinical disorder.

Some experts attribute China’s change in attitude to the widespread involvement of middle- and upper-class Chinese adolescents in what looks like addictive online behavior.

“A little like our opioid addiction here,” says Lembke. “People say no one cared about the opioid epidemic until it affected white suburban kids.”

Lembke predicts Internet addiction will become a validated clinical diagnosis in the U.S. as more and more cases mirror Naomi’s.

Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist and the director of Stanford’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic, says there’s also increasing physiological evidence that the use of the Internet can become addictive for some people. Some studies using scanning technology have looked at people’s brains while they’re online, he says, and compared them to scans of the activated reward pathways in the brains of people who have a substance abuse disorder. “Similar pathways seem activated,” he says.

He also says tolerance builds in people who compulsively use the Internet, just as it does with the use of hard drugs. He sees “people needing more and more time on a particular online video game, for example,” he says, “to get the same kind of euphoric feeling.”

Psychologists are still studying whether it is the overall use of the Internet that becomes pathologically compelling, or specific behaviors that people engage in while online — like shopping, gambling, playing video games or viewing pornography.

“My view is that it is both,” says Aboujaoude. “These behaviors have long been known to be addictive, but the Internet, in part by making them so easily accessible, changes the equation and increases the likelihood that they will become addictive.”

Some people studying the condition compare the development of an Internet addiction to that of a gambling disorder (sometimes called gambling addiction), which is included in the DSM-V. With gambling, even though most of the time when you’re sitting in front of a slot machine you don’t win, every once in a while you do. And that intermittent reward is what hooks people.

Think about your own use of personal electronic devices. Most of the time when your phone dings, the notification is about something trivial. But, every once in a while, it’s something meaningful to you — like, perhaps, a notification that someone has tagged you in a Facebook photo. Researchers studying Internet use say that kind of message is irresistible.

Still, not everyone is convinced that “addiction” is the right way to think about this compulsion. Chris Ferguson, a psychologist at Stetson University, believes moral panic is fueling the rush to label the problem an addiction. “Sometimes with new technology you see these heightened claims of harm, these exaggerated focuses on the detriment of the new media.”

Patrick Markey, a psychologist at Villanova University, agrees that society should go slow in using the “addiction” label. He worries some researchers are casting an age bias on younger generations.

“If we see kids playing video games or watching YouTube videos, in our eyes it’s as if they’re wasting their time and not being productive,” Markey says. “We might want them to be outside playing baseball or something, but for that generation that’s their pixelated playground. It might not be a sign of a pathological behavior.”

Markey acknowledges it’s possible to spend too much time interacting with a screen. But both he and Ferguson believe that spending long hours on the Internet falls into the same category as other behaviors that healthy people can overindulge in — like sex, food, exercise, religion and work.

“There’s no agreement about whether these pathological behavioral disorders are really the same things as substance abuse addictions,” says Ferguson. “But in my opinion they’re not comparable to, say, methamphetamine addiction or heroin addiction.”

A crusade for change

Even as researchers debate whether the Internet is clinically addictive, many if not most of us feel tethered to our devices. That’s not a coincidence. Tech companies are invested in hooking people into spending more and more time online, and they’re getting better and better at it, says Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google. His job, he says, was to help the company create products that weren’t inherently manipulative.

“When you look at the Facebook news feed, it’s not just some neutral thing,” Harris says. “That’s powered by massive farms of computers who are calculating, with Ph.D.s and large data sets: ‘How I can get you to scroll?’ ”

Harris eventually quit his gig at Google to form a nonprofit called Time Well Spent, because, he says, he was disgusted by the tech industry’s race for our attention. He says Google had good intentions, but it was too difficult to turn the tides at the tech giant.

“Never before in history have a handful of technology designers working at three tech companies influenced how a billion people spend their attention,” Harris says.

He’s now on a crusade to inspire Facebook, Google and Apple to design products that don’t deliberately hook kids like Naomi.

Back at Paradigm, Naomi is getting ready for a session with her therapist, who is helping her integrate her devices back into her life. She is now in a month-long outpatient program four days a week after school. She says she doesn’t plan to isolate herself again. In fact, she’s asked her mom to restrict her phone use, so that she can’t use the phone when she’s alone.

“I’ve realized what it’s done to me in some ways,” Naomi says, “and I’ve seen what it has done to some of my friends.”

Recently some of Naomi’s friends were suspended from school for posting inappropriate videos to YouTube. Naomi doesn’t want to follow in their footsteps. She hopes she can resist the allure of the digital world and return to the activities she used to love.