As Seen on Amazon
- Very cool biofeedback device, May 16, 2013
By Brian Whistler (Forestville, CA United States)
Inner Balance is a portable device that interfaces with your iPhone or iPad. When you first open it, you might think, "I paid 100 bucks for this?" It looks rather unassuming, a simple standard Apple connector and a wire with a sensor that attaches to your ear to pick up your heart rate. (I understand you can get an adaptor to fit your iPhone 5.) In order to use the device you have to download the free app from the Apple App Store.
What sets Inner Balance apart from other biofeedback devices is it doesn't just measure heart rate, it also measures heart rate variability. Your heart rate is always changing, beat to beat. Inner Balance has you breathe along with your choice of a couple of different graphic animations, slowing your breath and thus relaxing you into what they call coherence, a condition in which your heart rate variability becomes less erratic and in concord with a relaxed breath and emotional state. It also tends to slow your heart rate way down as you match your breath with the graphic animation. You have the choice of two graphic displays that give you feedback with changing colors, red for not being in coherence, blue for medium and green for high coherence. You can also choose your own image to look at while you breathe. Inner balance coaches you with words of encouragement-it also awards points for achieving states of high coherence. (I personally think the points thing is kind of lame, but some people love rewards so...) You can change breath rate, sounds (such as muting the award "dings",) and other stuff in the settings window.
You can choose from 4 levels of difficulty if it gets too easy; I'm still on level 2. You can choose any music you want from your iTunes library. (I would suggest you resist the temptation to pick Guns and Roses greatest hits and instead find something slow and relaxing to breathe to.) There's even a page that gives you a wealth of data in real time: heart rate, a graph of overall HRV from the beginning of your session, frequencies of your HRV (I still don't know what this particular graph is telling me,) and a close up to monitor your current state. I found it most difficult to achieve states of coherence when looking at all this data. Sessions are saved and can be viewed to monitor your progress. HeartMath also gives you some tips and FAQs on a separate page.
All in all, I find Inner Balance to be a useful tool for dealing with stress, and I especially like the fact that you can use it on the go. Two thumbs up!
- Great for focusing, May 16, 2013
By lgbeans (Forestville, CA United States)
I have been meditating for years and I find that this app really helps me focus. It distracts my over active mind and gives it something to do. So that way I have more quality time to focus more on my heart and find that calm still place inside. I don't watch it the whole time I'm meditating but it helps to look at it here and there which keeps me more on track during my meditation. I like first to watch the screen that tells me what my heart rate is and then to switch to the screen where I can see how high I can get my coherence level. It has been an invaluable tool for me.I highly recommend it, especially if you have a wondering mind like mine.
- So-So; Good idea BUT, May 16, 2013
By javajunki (Forestville, CA United States)
Hmmmm...have you ever encountered a product that seems like a good idea but in reality is just so-so? This is that product.
First, the description doesn't make it clear but chances are high you will need to buy a fairly expensive little adapter to actually use this product. The one that comes with it only fits older devices and the description isn't adequate. On the other hand, this fits nearly any older Apple product "as is" including tablet, iPod and iPad so you have choices. Still, the description should be a bit more clear or better yet, the company should allow you to select the purchase of this product based upon the device you own without paying more to get the extension.
Next, I was hoping to use this while at the gym and indeed, the video/other indicated this was possible, it's probably not optimum. The ear clip isn't stable enough. Okay, fair enough because this is really for meditation.
So, when it comes to meditation I'm awful. I tried Yoga and hated it. I tried biofeedback and hated it even more. Visualization - please, I relaxed more with my eyes open and sitting up. In short, trying to relax nearly always ends up one of two ways: stressing me out or putting me to sleep. There is little in between.
But, I am prone to tachycardia and have been searching for ways to help avoid taking so many medications with serious side effects and this seemed like a great non intrusive way to keep track of those situations that result in a higher heart rate. Except it is intrusive to use all the time. The faces are a bit annoying. Breathing exercises sound nice but seem to do little. Admittedly, maybe this is me but this device feels "cute" and more like a gimmick than anything serious.
Good idea. Good potential. Unsatisfying delivery.
- Helps my body help itself, May 15, 2013
By S. L. Smith "SansSerif" (Cloud Hidden, United States)
Like most people, I have stress and I do not deal with it properly. I also have an irregular heartbeat, heart murmur, and shallow breathing (asthma). And I am on meds that increase blood pressure and muscle tension. After my very first session with the Heartmath 6400 Inner Balance Sensor for iOS I knew I'd found a tool that will help my body help itself. And really, isn't that fundamental for achieving inner balance?
I found it helpful to read some other reviews, since Apple favors a practically wordless introduction and installation process. I learned to go to the App Store and NOT iTunes. After that, easy peasy. I like that you can turn off the music and sound effects. You can increase challenge levels, plus use your own images to inspire "coherence", i.e. relaxation and coordinated breathing. Journaling is not required for each session, but personally I think it is important to be able to verbalize my state of being. Plus occasionally I have been able to solve problems inadvertently in a session - the solution just pops into my head and I want to capture it before it dissolves into stress.
I am not sure if I have the earpiece problem a few others have had. It seems to get my breathing levels adequately, but the display flat-lines often, and I do not yet know what it means. I was worried my iPad "original" would not work properly with the app and connector, but no problems there. However, there might be with future updates, as I believe the old iPads cannot be updated past the current OS.
Nice app and I am looking forward to trying it out in different environments, such as the waiting room of the dentist's office or the DMV.
- Essential for total approach to health, May 13, 2013
By Troy Edwards (MANCHESTER, NH USA)
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is taking the fitness world to new levels. Nothing (yet) is better for telling you how hard you should (or shouldn't) workout that day. This app uses HRV for a different purpose.
Heartmath's aim is "Coherence". To bring your breath, heartrate, and emotions into coherence. For that it does a great job. What that does for you overall is hard to explain, and you may want to visit their site for more information, but I can tell you what it did for me.
I use it when I wake up, for about 5 minutes, to start my day off feeling refreshed. However, the most dramatic observance I've made, is when doing the exercise for 10 minutes before sleeping. I use it in bed, and am ready to close my eyes as soon as I put my device down. Results? Out hard and fast!
I've been getting the deepest sleep I've ever had in my life, night after night. This took about a week to get used to, as I was waking up refreshed with just 5 1/2 hours sleep, and great energy all day. This was too good to last, and I eventually settled on 7 1/2 hours, compared to my previous 9 I needed to feel refreshed.
Azumio Stress Doctor: This app uses the camera to detect your heart rate, and does a really good job at introducing you to coherence for just $5. Not nearly as detailed, and fairly easy to achieve "state". No difficulty setting, and you are only told if you are on or off. What I like about the Heartmath item, is you are given a very specific coherence number.
For Android, there is an app called "Stress Releaser": It also uses the camera, and works ok. Again, not the same level of detail.
Neither of the above two had the same effect on my sleep. It doesn't take much focus to achieve state in them, whereas Inner Balance shows your progress as you focus harder and practice more. I don't know how high it measures, as I haven't hit a limit yet. So far, I've gotten into the low 9's.
For my use, I am only concerned with my Coherence number, and the HRV wave. I inhale at the bottom, and exhale at the top. By doing this, feeling my heartbeat, and focusing on relaxing, I'm able to achieve a coherence in the 8's, and have gone over 9. I don't think "happy thoughts" as recommended. I tried for several sessions with no changes.
I'm so happy with the results I'm getting from this device, I ordered a second one for my kids. The only reason I took off a star is that this is iOS only, and I had to buy a $30 adapter to use it with my latest gen device.
A few things I would like to see:
Night mode. I use this before bed to put me in a deep sleep, I turn the brightness all the way down, but still... blue? It's the absolute worst color to be staring at before going to sleep. Also, it's a pain to have to go into settings every time.
Maybe a couple of in app purchases. 1) I would like to use this with my Polar H7 bluetooth HRM (which I use with "Sweetbeat", an app that measures HRV for monitoring stress levels). I would think it would work. 2) HRV Stress test, for exercise purposes. Heck, it's believed HRV can be used to monitor aerobic threshold. Heartmath could be a leader, and use this app to be the first consumer product on that front.
I would also love audio cues for when the HRV wave is a the bottom and top. Perhaps a low tone at the bottom, and a high tone at the top. I do not use the other tone, so I image users would have to be given a choice as to which, if either, was used. This would allow me to close my eyes, which seems to raise my coherence.
Multiple profiles on one device please.
Being able to sign in, and sync multiple devices... Though I could see where that one would be a pain, as it would require a lot of back end work and maintenance.
And lastly, I would love to see a forum, so users could discuss how they are using this, and how different techniques are affecting their coherence.
Ok, one more thing that I'm not really interested in, but would likely increase sales/usage... Some kind of gameification. A leader board, something. People love that stuff.
- Novel Approach to Meditation. Seems to Be Beneficial., , May 12, 2013
By G. Cox "Shanghaied" (Houston, Texas)
First, you have to download a free, but fairly sizable app, so make sure you have room on your phone. Search for Inner Balance to determine if you can download the app. And as a heads up, the app is not very user-friendly. It's ridden with a bunch of vague terms like coherence that are never really defined, and there are no back or stop buttons or finger swipe movements that I can find.
Once you download the app, there's an introductory slide show that walks you through how to use the device.
- There is a "training coach" that helps you learn how to run your meditation / breathing session
- You can review your training history and progress and there's a journal that allows you to record any notes regarding specific training sessions
- The HeartMath part of the app is not well designed. It's not intuitive and seems to be a way to sell other products like emWave and HeartMaster.
The device itself doesn't fit into my phone with the iPhone case on. I have a Speck, which is one of the thick plastic cases with a soft lining on the inside. My case doesn't work with car phone chargers either though.
Now for the session itself, the app is basically a breathing coach. It shows you the pace at which you should be breathing while it measures your pulse.
- Could be helpful for someone who's never tried meditation before or is new to the concept of mindful breathing and relaxation
- Does seems to be effective at reducing stress
- Quite expensive, whereas you could just learn breathing exercises by reading materials online
- App is not very user friendly
- Does not fit with case on phone
Overall, I am ambivalent about this tool. On the one hand, having done meditation for some time, I think that learning basic meditation will give you the same results or better without the device. Also, meditation is supposed to direct your focus inward and bring you an inner calm, whereas this app brings your attention outward with a lot of graphics and numbers on a bright screen. This outward focus, along with the innate stress of wearing a heart monitor, seems antithetical to the goals of meditation.
On the other hand, it's kind of hypnotic to watch and in some ways made me feel relaxed while I was doing the session. I often have insomnia and think that this will be something I can use in the middle of the night to help me relax and go back to sleep.
In the end, I think this product is best for someone who needs to learn to control their stress and has not tried or is uninterested in trying traditional meditation. This is sort of a gadgetry approach to achieving similar goals to meditation, so if you're resistant or unsure of how to start meditating, this is a good place to start. Just know that you could also learn these techniques through practice without an app or device.
- Thinking of investing in this? Follow your Heart., , May 7, 2013
By Shannon Lastowski "Queen of Caffeine, aka Shannie the JavaGoddess"
Take 5 1/2 minutes to view the Inner Balance Walk-Thru Video. It is on the HeartMath site under 'technology', click the Inner Balance Sensor then scroll down to the second video.
After downloading the app, plug in the sensor, place the clip on your ear, and relax as your heart rhythms are fed into the app..
Think of this app and sensor as your personal meditation coach.
HeartMath started as a non-profit in 1991, and continues a mission of promoting personal and global self enrichment. Centered people, centered world. Makes sense to me!
And if all of this seems a bit too quackish or New Age, there is science to back it up. Think biofeedback. Heal your heart in more ways than one.
And on the techie side, this is slightly embarrassing to admit...
After downloading, I attached it to my iPhone. Nada. Like any good gadget junkie, I then tried iPads 2 and 3. Success! Since the iPhone is pretty new, I knew nothing was wrong on MY end, so called HeartMath.
Tech support was quick, and they gently explained that it might be my thick iPhone case. That was indeed the problem. Even though it felt as if it clicked in place, it was just a hair too far away.
Boy, did I feel silly, but wanted to share that support for this device is speedy and efficient.
Now back to training my heart and soothing the stress...