I’ve been thinking about getting a Fitbit. I know lots of people who have them; I’ve almost stopped noticing the brightly colored bracelets on the wrists of my fitness-nut friends. The appeal is obvious; without a personal trainer, it’s hard to design an ideal workout and nutrition program for yourself without knowing what kind of calories you’re burning each day. Our culture has become obsessed with tracking just about everything, you may notice: from calories consumed vs. calories burned, to the amount and quality of sleep we’re getting every night, to our babies’ bathroom habits (really), there’s at least one app for that.
New startup Sendinaden is combining health tracking with another of today’s most rapidly growing technologies: 3D printing. Their first product, the Pattern Breathe Mask, is slated to go on the market in January 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that will be launched at the end of this month. The 3D printed face mask is designed to track the most important of human functions: breathing. Made of smart materials, it will gather data on the wearer’s breathing patterns and display the data either on the user’s smart phone or directly on the mask itself. Breathing may be automatic, but the fact is that most of us are doing it wrong.
“Stress and breathing are highly interconnected,” said David Hartmann, founder and CEO of Sendinaden. “When we breathe too fast or too shallow we add to the existing stress in our bodies and this can cause serious health problems. It’s a two-way relationship. When we breathe well, we reduce the stress on our body from outside influences. We make better decisions at work and we sleep better. Good breathing is the cornerstone of a healthy and happy life.”
Like with other fitness applications, it is up to the consumer to change his or her behavior, but the Pattern Breathe Mask enables the wearer to see where he or she falls short of what is considered healthy breathing, and then work to form new habits. When designing the mask, the company also thought particularly of people living in places like China, where the air quality is notoriously bad. The mask includes a HEPA filter, which cleans the air of particles as it is breathed in.
Because of the flexibility that 3D printing offers, each mask can be custom-made for the wearer so that it conforms perfectly to his or her face. Elaine Saulnier, who handles corporate identity, design and online marketing for Sendinaden, noted that products such as the Pattern Breathe Mask are signs that the consumer electronics industry, which has long been dominated by injection molding, is rapidly being overtaken by 3D printing.
“Wearable technology represents a completely different paradigm that is best served by 3D printing,” Hartmann added. “We see a consumer experience where you walk into a retail outlet, get a Pattern Breathe Mask curated and customised for you, go shopping and come back 45 minutes later to pick up your finished 3D printed mask.”
To print the mask, Sendinaden partnered with filament manufacturer Polymaker, whose PolyMax PLA filament was used to print the casing and front panel, while the strap was printed with their PolyFlex material. The Polymaker polycarbonate filaments were chosen specifically for their strength, flexibility and safety, enabling the mask to be held firmly against the face without skin irritation. The company is currently using Mass Portal printers to create its flagship product.Watch for Sendinaden’s first Kickstarter campaign to launch later this month, and don’t be surprised if the health tracking industry soon begins to include a lot more sophisticated, 3D printed devices.
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