FAQs

Below you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most about using Brythm.

Background to Brythm

Why should I trust Brythm?

Brythm has been developed by scientists from Bournemouth University’s Faculty of Health and Social Sciences. The patent-pending algorithm1 that underpins how Brythm guides slow breathing is based on fundamental physiological research2.

  1. McConnell, et al., 2017, “Device and method for guiding breathing of a user”. 1717276.8, UK Patent Office.
  2. Vargas, P. F., 2018, “Factors influencing the cardiovascular response to slow, deep breathing”.

How has Brythm been evaluated?

The patent-pending algorithm1 that underpins how Brythm guides slow breathing is based on rigorous physiological research undertaken with healthy young people2. Brythm is currently undergoing evaluation in specific groups of people with high blood pressure (hypertension); please see our Research page for further information about this research.

  1. McConnell, et al., 2017, “Device and method for guiding breathing of a user”. 1717276.8, UK Patent Office.
  2. Vargas, P. F., 2018, “Factors influencing the cardiovascular response to slow, deep breathing”.

How does Brythm personalise my breathing to my own rhythm?

There are a number of factors that influence how strongly your cardiovascular system responds to slow breathing. These include body size, and differences between people in the responsiveness of the systems that regulate blood pressure. This means that an optimal rate for one person is not optimal for another. Brythm has been designed to overcome this individuality by monitoring how your cardiovascular system responds to slow breathing in real time, prompting you to move towards a breathing frequency that optimises the interaction between breathing and the cardiovascular response to it. Brythm’s breathing guidance is underpinned by a unique, patent-pending algorithm1.

  1. McConnell, et al., 2017, “Device and method for guiding breathing of a user”. 1717276.8, UK Patent Office.

Why does a Brythm training session last 10 minutes?

The duration of the Brythm training session is based on previous research using other methods of slow breathing guidance, which suggests that 10 minutes is an adequate duration for prompting the cardiovascular benefits of slow and deep breathing.

When will Brythm be available commercially?

Brythm is currently in the evaluation phase of its development, which includes testing the feasibility of its use by specific groups of people (i.e., how people access and use the App), as well as its effectiveness (i.e., whether it generates improvements in cardiovascular health). Brythm will not be available commercially until this important research has been completed. However, if you wish to help us test the benefits of Brythm, please Register now to register your interest; there may be an upcoming study for which you would be suitable.

Is Brythm beneficial for other conditions other than high blood pressure, or for use by a healthy individual?

Emerging research suggests that slow breathing may have neurophysiological/psychological benefits, such as improving decision-making and/or reducing anxiety. These areas are not currently part of our research programme, but we would be pleased to hear from other scientists with an interest in testing Brythm’s effects in these areas (please Contact us).

Downloading Brythm

How do I install Brythm?

Brythm is currently in the evaluation phase of its development and is therefore only available to people who are participating in our research projects. If you are taking part in one of our studies you will be provided with detailed instructions and a link to a web page where you can download the Brythm App. If you are a research participant and you need further assistance, please contact one of the research team.

Why do I need to “Trust BU” as a developer before I can use Brythm?

When Apps are distributed privately (rather than downloaded through the App Store or Play Store) your device blocks their use automatically for security reasons. This is to ensure unwanted Apps can’t be downloaded to your device. To ‘Trust’ BU as a developer please see the initial e-mail that was sent at the start of your participation in our project, or contact us directly for instructions.

What platforms and devices does Brythm work on?

Brythm is currently provided for iOS and Android devices only. A list of compatible devices is available on request; however most recent smartphones and tablets running these operating systems should be able to download and use Brythm. However, due to Motorola’s non-standard headset jack wiring, Brythm cannot operate on Motorola devices, because the App requires access to the finger sensor.

Do I need to remove the case from my device?

The finger sensor jack is designed to accommodate most cases; however, some very large cases may prevent the jack of the finger sensor connecting, which necessitates removal of the case.

Using Brythm: Technical Questions

I have a problem using Brythm, who do I contact?

If you have any technical problems using the App and can’t find the solution in the FAQs below then please e-mail technical@brythm.com describing your problem. This e-mail address should only be used by current participants who have technical problems using Brythm. If you wish to contact the team regarding anything else please Contact us using the online form.

How do I uninstall Brythm?

Brythm can be uninstalled in the same way as any other App on your iOS or Android device, once you have completed the research study. If you are currently taking part in a research study, we recommend that you do not uninstall Brythm prior to speaking with the study investigator, as this can result in the loss of important data.

Brythm won’t open, what should I do?

Some developers recommend uninstalling and reloading their Apps to overcome this problem. However, we don’t recommend that you uninstall Brythm, especially if you are part way through a research study, as this can result in the loss of important data.

We recommend the following actions: 1) if you are using the iOS version, please check that you have allowed Brythm permission to send notifications (see Do I need to allow notifications for Brythm). 2) Problems opening Brythm are sometimes caused by server connection errors during the opening process. Try turning off your device’s Wi-Fi and mobile data connection, and then open Brythm. If the second option works, next time you use Brythm please try to open it whilst connected to the Internet, thereby allowing Brythm to send your training data to our server.

It is particularly important not to uninstall Brythm during times when you have been using Brythm without an Internet connection as all data previously collected will be lost.

If none of these solutions work, you should contact the study investigator who will advise on the appropriate action.

The finger sensor isn’t connecting to Brythm, why does this happen and what can I do to prevent it?

First, ensure that the connection jack is pushed all the way into the headphone socket and/or try disconnecting and reconnecting the sensor. Also ensure that the port is clear of any fluff or dirt. The connection problem may also be because the sensor cannot detect blood flow in the finger. If you have cold hands, blood circulation in the fingers is low, and the sensor can’t detect the blood flow which it needs to monitor your physiological responses to the slow breathing. The best way to overcome this is to run your hands under warm water until the circulation to your fingers has recovered and your hands feel warm. Finally, please check that the sensor is positioned correctly on your finger (see the ‘Set-up instructions’ in the Brythm menu at the top left of the App’s screen).

The Brythm pacer seems to stall at the end of the count down, why does this happen and what can I do to prevent it?

The most likely explanation for this is that your fingers are cold and the Brythm sensor cannot detect a sufficiently good quality signal. The finger sensor needs to be able to detect blood flow in your finger; if you have cold hands, blood circulation in the fingers is low, and the sensor can’t detect the blood flow. The best way to overcome this is to end the session and to run your hands under warm water until the circulation to your fingers has recovered and your hands feel warm. Then restart your session.

Do I need to allow Brythm to access the microphone on my device?

Yes, although a microphone is not used, the finger sensor uses the headphone/microphone connecting port. Your device therefore considers this connection to be a microphone, because the finger sensor requests to record data, i.e. your physiological response to the breathing guidance. When first using Brythm, you may be asked to allow Brythm to access and/or record audio. This permission allows Brythm to receive data from the finger sensor, which is needed in order to guide your breathing optimally. Please accept this request to allow Brythm to operate.

Do I need to allow notifications for Brythm?

Brythm provides the option to set a reminder for your Brythm session and also to enter your daily blood pressure reading. Although we recommend using the reminders, you do not have to use them, however you must give permission for the Brythm App to send notifications within your devices’ settings. This is needed to allow you to enter the ‘set blood pressure reminder’ option on the Brythm menu. You will need to enter this menu option to select ‘add blood pressure monitor readings’ so you can add your daily blood pressure readings during the study. Currently for the iOS version, you are unable to enter the ‘set blood pressure reminder’ menu option without first allowing notifications. Please contact the study investigator if you experience any difficulties.

Why can’t I see the ‘Add blood pressure values’ option in the Menu?

This option is only available if you have selected to ‘add blood pressure monitor readings’ in the ‘set blood pressure reminder’ Brythm menu option. This does not mean you have to set a reminder, as this is a separate option choice. Please ensure this is selected and recheck the Brythm menu. Currently for the iOS version, you are unable to enter the ‘set blood pressure reminder’ menu option without first giving the Brythm App permission to send notifications. Please see the above FAQ on allowing notifications for the Brythm App and contact an investigator if you experience any difficulties.

How do I change/find out my passcode?

You will be given a 5-digit passcode to access Brythm when you start a research study. It is not possible to change this passcode; however, you should only need to input this passcode once, on installation of the App, as it will be ‘remembered’ for subsequent sessions. If you forget your passcode and are required to re-enter it please contact the study investigator.

Can I use the same Brythm passcode on different devices?

No, the passcode system was not designed to be used on multiple devices, as data uploaded to the server can be compromised. Therefore, you should only use one device to undertake your Brythm training. Even if you only undertake your training sessions on one device, it is important that Brythm is not installed on more than one device at the same time. If you need to switch devices during your participation in a study, please inform a study investigator who will check your current data status and will tell you when it is safe to uninstall Brythm from your old device. This ensures no data are lost.

Do I have to be connected to the Internet to be able to use Brythm?

You need an Internet connection to download Brythm initially, but you do not need to be connected to the Internet to perform each of your daily Brythm training sessions. However, for the data collected by Brythm to be sent to our server, there must be an Internet connection (see What data does Brythm collect). Therefore we recommend that you use Brythm while connected to the Internet so that data can be sent after every session. Brythm sends data using either Wi-Fi or mobile data (see How much data does Brythm use).

If you are a BU staff member/student, the server connection will not send data when connected to the ‘eduroam’ network, so please use either the ‘BU_Staff’, or ‘BU_student’ Wi-Fi networks as appropriate.

Can I use Brythm while abroad?

Yes, Brythm can be used anywhere, even while abroad. However, if you are connected to mobile data while abroad then Brythm will use this connection to send the training data to the server (see How much data does Brythm use). Consequently, if you don’t have an inclusive data package for data roaming we suggest you turn off mobile data when using Brythm while abroad so as not to incur a charge with your provider. We cannot accept any responsibility for data roaming charges when using Brythm.

If you use Brythm without an Internet connection, and you are participating in a study which you are due to finish whilst you are abroad, then when return home, please connect to the Internet and open Brythm to allow data to be sent to our server. You do not need to complete any additional training, but by opening Brythm the data stored on your device from your training sessions while abroad will be uploaded to our server. Consequently, we also ask that you don’t uninstall Brythm until after you have given Brythm an opportunity to transfer data, and an investigator can check that all the data has been transferred.

How much data does Brythm use?

Brythm sends anonymised data relating to your training (see What data does Brythm collect) using either a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. We cannot guarantee the amount of data usage and therefore recommend you use Brythm when connected to Wi-Fi. The data consists of small text files, so should not require any large, extra data consumption; however we cannot accept any responsibility for data charges when using Brythm.

Using Brythm: General Questions

Which finger should I put the finger sensor on when using Brythm?

For most people, the finger sensor should be used on the index or second finger. If you have larger fingers and the sensor feels tight on these fingers, we recommend that you put the sensor on your little finger. We will advise you of this during your initial meeting when you participate in one of our research studies.

What happens if I receive a call or notification during my Brythm session?

The call will override Brythm, which will continue to run in the background. If this happens, we suggest that you abandon the session and start again after your call. Alternatively, you can decline the call, and pick up your Brythm session again immediately; however, the interruption will likely affect your Brythm score. Notifications from other apps could also appear during your Brythm session, and again if these are disturbing we recommend that you abandon your session and restart. If you click on a notification during your Brythm session then the session will automatically end.

What does the score mean at the end of the training session?

The unique Brythm score is based on your physiological responses to the breathing exercise. A ‘good’ score is above 70% and a very good score is above 80%. You can keep track of your scores using the graph function at the top right of the Brythm training screen.

How long should I continue to use Brythm?

If you are taking part in a research study, you should continue to use Brythm for as long as the study requirements dictate but remember you are free to withdraw from any study at any time, without giving a reason, and without any disadvantage. However, please contact the investigator if you intend to withdraw to inform them and to arrange returning the equipment. Finally, please do not uninstall Brythm until after you have contacted the investigator.

I am participating in a research study, but I can no longer continue to use Brythm. What should I do?

As a research participant you have the right to withdraw at any time with no disadvantage to yourself. Therefore if you can no longer participate, or wish to withdraw for any reason, please contact the investigator to inform them and to arrange returning the equipment. Finally, please do not uninstall Brythm until after you have contacted the investigator.

Can I continue to use Brythm after the study has finished?

Brythm is currently in the evaluation phase of its development and is therefore only available to participants for the duration of the study. If you would like to continue using slow and deep breathing then we can recommend some free Apps that provide guided breathing at a specific breathing frequency. Unlike Brythm, which adjusts breathing frequency dynamically in response to your physiology, other Apps only allow you to use a fixed breathing frequency. However, based on the data we collect during the study, we will be able advise you of the best breathing frequency to set using one of these Apps. Please contact the study investigator for more information.

What data does Brythm collect?

Brythm sends data that compromises the make of your device (e.g., iPhone), the operating system being used (e.g., iOS-10.3.3) and your device’s unique identifier (e.g., B291X721-48X9-409F-AFXF-AB1ACXXC6A05). Brythm also collects the physiological responses recorded by the sensor. No personal information is sent from the App to our server, but nonetheless these data are sent to a secure server at Bournemouth University and can only be accessed by members of the research study team. For more details about privacy, please see the Privacy policy page of this website.

What happens to my personal data?

Personal data collected prior to participating in a study is held in accordance with current Data Protection Regulations. Data sent from the App does not contain ANY personal information; it comprises the make of the device you are using to undertake your Brythm training, and the physiological responses recorded by the sensor. Nonetheless, these data are sent to a secure server at Bournemouth University and can only be accessed by members of the research study team. For more details about privacy, please see the Privacy Policy.

How soon will I see any changes?

Slow and deep breathing has been shown to have an immediate influence on cardiovascular parameters, such as heart rate and blood pressure. Our research has found that this immediate response can vary between people, and that depending upon starting values, heart rate and blood pressure may rise or fall at the end of a Brythm session. The long term effects of Brythm are the focus of our research, but previous research on the cardiovascular effects of slow breathing indicate that any changes in blood pressure take place over a period of weeks, not days.

Do I need to tell my doctor?

Brythm is a safe intervention, but if you currently have high blood pressure, we recommend that you inform your doctor of your participation in any research studies. This will help them to understand any changes that might occur in your blood pressure. You can provide your doctor with the ‘Participant Information Sheet’ you will receive before participating in any of our research studies. This will provide your doctor with all the information they require about the study and the study team contact details.

Should I keep taking my prescribed medication?

Yes, Brythm is intended to be a complimentary intervention, which is used alongside current medication; you must therefore keep taking your current medication. We do not recommend you stop taking your current medication, or change the dose. You must consult a doctor before making any changes to your medication.

Are there any side effects from using Brythm?

Due to the relaxing nature of slow and deep breathing you may experience sleepiness during the Brythm training. Since you will be breathing at a lower breathing frequency than normal, there is a small chance you may experience symptoms of hypercapnia (higher than normal levels of carbon dioxide in the body), which are sensations of heat, sweating and ‘flushing’ and a strong urge to breathe more. This is quite normal and does not present any known risk to your safety. In the unlikely event that you feel uncomfortable, you should stop the Brythm training and return to breathing normally. The sensations will subside quickly once normal spontaneous breathing is resumed. In the unlikely event that you experience symptoms of hypercapnia, this should be reported to the study investigator.

Interested in participating in a Brythm study

How do I become a participant in a study to evaluate Brythm?

Please Register now to register your interest for future studies. We will ask for some personal details so that we can direct you to a suitable study, as some studies are only for specific age groups, genders, health conditions, etc. We will store this information securely, and we will only use it to contact you about participation in our research. We will not pass this information to any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy for detailed information about how your personal data is stored and used by us.

What types of studies are you currently recruiting for?

We are currently recruiting for a study on the immediate effects of Brythm, and other slow breathing frequencies, with healthy young women of childbearing age (18-49). To participate in this study you need to be able to visit our laboratory at Bournemouth University on one occasion for 2 hours.

We are also recruiting for a study comparing the Brythm App against a device that is approved by the NHS and FDA (RESPeRATE®). This study is with anyone who is a non-smoker and has no current diagnosis of any cardiovascular or respiratory diseases (including asthma) and will also require a visit to our laboratory at Bournemouth University on one occasion for 2 hours.

Finally, we are recuriting for a study that is testing the feasibility of using the Brythm App. You must be over 40 and have a device capable of downloading and running the Brythm App. You will be required to complete daily 10-minute Brythm training sessions for 8 weeks, and take two blood pressure readings per day using an automated blood pressure monitor we provide.

Please see the Research page for further details of the above studies. Other groups of people will be needed for future research studies so please register your interest by clicking Register now to have your details added to our database.

What will I be asked to do as a participant?

This will depend on the specific study you participate in. Studies exploring the long term effects of Brythm will normally involve using Brythm for a period of 8 weeks, and could also involve a visit to our laboratory at Bournemouth University to collect some cardiovascular data. Future studies may not require this laboratory visit, and so it may be possible to participate ‘remotely’, from anywhere in the world. Other studies may require just one visit to our laboratory to investigate the short-term, immediate cardiovascular effects of Brythm. Please see the Research page for details of current studies.