Whether still working at home or back in the office, many people are now spending more time looking at screens than ever before. In fact, recent studies show that the average American spends over 10 hours looking at screens every single day. For workers, this statistic can be over 50% higher on their working days.
Most people appreciate the physical health problems that this can bring. It is one of the leading contributors as to why we must learn to recover and grow. However, the mental health burdens are arguably even greater. The silver lining of Covid-19 is that it’s helped people open up about their mental health. Mental illnesses affect nearly double the amount expected, with 31% reporting symptoms in late 2020 compared to 18%. These numbers are much higher than before we got infected by this terrible disease!
The survey showed that being financially unstable, lonely or lacking in food can lead to an increase of anxiety symptoms.
The mental health strains caused by high levels of screen time were a source of inspiration for breathing.ai founder Hannes Bend, who overcame his own feelings of depression, disconnection, and burnout through the use of mindfulness and breathwork. Through his new technology, he aims to help businesses establish healthier working environments for all employees by tackling this modern problem head-on.
Since 2014, Bend has collaborated with hundreds of neuroscientists, psychologists, UX/AI researchers, designers, and engineers to develop award-winning (Stanford 2016) XR biofeedback technologies. Since 2019, his breathing.ai team has been developing patented technology using webcams and AI to detect stress, to offer simple short personalized breaks and adaptive screen experiences. It sets out to identify the subtle changes that a user displays when anxiety and stress start to build before altering the screen to actively put the user in a better frame of mind.
Some examples of this include changing the brightness levels or the color of the screen, taking enforced screen breaks, and doing exercises to restore calmness. Bend says: “breathing.ai is a digital health enterprise providing The company is using relaxing screens and exercises to reduce stress in employees, as well as improve their performance. They do this through a wellness program for businesses that offers them free with certain packages, ndividual consumers can buy these products individually too!
“Developed based on expansive research, the breathing.ai Chrome extension is built on cutting edge machine learning that utiliizes the user’s webcam to detect breathing and heart rate to determine when he/she may need a break from the screen and work.
“The personalized break reminders, based on which ones are the most calming or performance-improving, are breath work, meditation, movement, or merely a suggested break from the screen. The over 100 exercises include, for instance, simple short deep breathing as breathwork, posture exercises, eye blinking for dry eyes, body scan as meditations, shoulder rolls for movements, or a short walk for just a break from a screen. Exercises offer 20 seconds to 2 minutes of short practices to build mindfulness and wellness into the daily flow.”
Thanks to its patented “Adaptive Interfaces,” the software delivers a personalized experience for all users to ensure that the meditative exercises and other aspects of the extension are tailored to meet their specific needs. Rather than completing screen breaks at scheduled times, which may or may not be needed by individuals at those times, the tech allows employees to receive the calming influences when they need it most. Crucially, this means zero disruption to other workers – which itself can be quite stressful when working to deadlines.
Bend states that the benefits have become more obvious to employers since the pandemic but confirms that workplace stress rooted in excessive screen time is nothing new. The company believes that this is the opportune moment for companies to rethink their approach to employee wellness – not least because it supports business operations too – with a view to sustaining those benefits to build a better future for the company and its workers alike.
Research in England shows that happy workers are 13% more productive, and the role of mental wellness in those overall happiness levels is greater than ever. HR staff can’t always identify when an employee has an issue, but advanced AI tech can. The daily and long-term results can be simply incredible. A recent Harvard study found employees who are satisfied with their work culture are 16% more productive, 18% more likely to stay at their job, and 30% more affinity to their company than competitors. Additionally, Harvard’s survey found, employees by a margin of 42% to 28%, would rather be able to customize their work schedule than opt for unlimited vacation.
Why breathing.ai is great for businesses
Breathing.ai is a valuable investment for businesses because, as Bend explains: “Unlike wearables (e.g., FitBit, Oura, Muse), our vital sign detection does not require an additional hardware purchase, and it’s integrated into used devices. Compared to mental health apps (e.g., Calm and Headspace), the subscription plans for our browser extension are far less costly and do not require the use of an additional app or extensive screen time.”
When employers introduce the healthy screen time AI extension to employee computers and devices, they will quickly notice improvements across all relevant teams. They include;
- Improved happiness and smoother colleague communications.
- Increased individual and collective staff productivity.
- Fewer human errors ultimately stem from stress.
- Reduced staff turnover rates.
- Stronger employer-employee relationships.
Crucially, the simple browser extension can easily be added to any computer, including the devices used by remote-based workers. To learn more about the revolutionary technology and how it can actively boost the health of employees and businesses alike, visit breathing.ai today.