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.
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.