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Irish startup Galvanic seeks to beat stress with games via Bluetooth biosensor

Now here’s a tech prod­uct to set the job­bing prod­uct man­ag­er off on a bout of Pavlov­ian drool­ing: PIP. That’s short for ‘per­son­al input pod’, a wire­less stress biosen­sor devel­oped by Irish start­up Galvanic.

Games as stress antidotes

Gal­van­ic has just launched a Kick­starter to crowd­source fund­ing for the device, which mea­sures gal­van­ic skin response (GSR) to gauge stress lev­els.  GSR is a rather hifa­lutin way of say­ing “skin sweat lev­els” – when you pinch the PIP between fore­fin­ger and thumb, it mea­sures your skin con­duc­tance, which varies accord­ing to how sweaty you are (and there­fore, pre­sum­ably, how stressed you’re felling, unless you’ve just eat­en an exceed­ing­ly fiery curry).

But this is where most prod­uct man­agers will agree that it gets inter­est­ing; PIP isn’t sim­ply a biosen­sor. It works in tan­dem with iOS and Android smart­phone and tablet apps to deliv­er a gam­i­fi­ca­tion fea­ture, using Blue­tooth for data trans­port. It cur­rent­ly has three Gal­van­ic-devel­oped games — and the clever thing is that the games show the user’s stress lev­el dur­ing play and try to help him or her relax.

Gal­van­ic aims to over­come the famil­iar sweaty palms phe­nom­e­non so well known by devout gamesters; its games are designed to be stress busters, not stress mak­ers. There’s a sea­son­al mood game where users can help morph a win­ter scene into a spring alter­na­tive by med­i­tat­ing, a relax­ing race game and, intrigu­ing­ly, a lie detec­tor game which mul­ti­ple play­ers can take part in.

Future plans

The skep­ti­cal prod­uct man­ag­er may well be think­ing that three games isn’t an awful lot to keep peo­ple inter­est­ed. But there are more tricks up Galvanic’s sleeve: if it can entice enough users to buy into PIP, and enough devel­op­ers to notice and join in, there are more biosens­ing offer­ings in the pipeline.

Ear­ly Kick­starters can pick the device up for $79; late­com­ers will need to part with $99. Gal­van­ic is hop­ing to raise $100,000 in crowd­sourced fund­ing, mon­ey that it wants to pump into final­iz­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and ready­ing its apps. It’s ambi­tious but not impos­si­ble; the firm hopes to be ready for mass pro­duc­tion by the end of the year, and ship­ping by the first quar­ter of 2014.

It’s also plan­ning plat­form sup­port for MacOS, Win­dows, Black­ber­ry, Win­dows Phone, game con­soles and set-top box­es a lit­tle fur­ther down the road.

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