Finally, the stars aligned. I fully charged the Sona, which took slightly more than an hour, and went through the setup process via the companion app. I also held the module down on my wrist so it could detect my pulse; the strap was slightly loose on my petite wrist. The pairing process took about three minutes.
After the device paired, the app explained how to read the so-called Active Time and Resonance charts on the home page. It features a number (your current heart rate) encircled by two wheels of spokes. The outer ring is the Active Time chart that shows your pulse throughout the day, while the interior shows your "resonance," which, according to the company, is "a paced breathing meditation to help build resilience to physical and mental stress." I don't know how you can track meditation other than how much time you spend doing it, but I imagine Caeden meant your resilience to stress.
That quality is calculated by your heart-rate variability (HRV), which is the difference in time between your heartbeats. Caeden says a higher HRV indicates an overall more healthful and less stressed system, and the app shows your resting heart rate and daily HRV so you can analyze your progress.
The Sona also monitors basic fitness metrics such as distance traveled, calories burned and heart rate throughout the day. But your active time and resonance goals are front and center. However, the app doesn't offer alerts to encourage you to meet them. It simply measures your activity, and it's up to you to achieve those targets.
I initiated a meditation session one evening after a particularly stressful day, and really enjoyed the calming sounds of crashing waves and the soothing voice that instructed me on breathing exercises. There are six types of sessions available: "Rise," "Relax," "Breathe," "Boost," "Rest" and "Free." These are designed to be carried out during different times of day to help you be more at peace.
While the sessions were effective at getting me relaxed, I'm not sure they helped me better manage my stress. When I'm approaching a deadline or thinking about the work I have to do, my first thought is rarely to meditate to calm down. Indeed, after days with the Sona, I haven't noticed a reduction in my stress-related breathing and sleep troubles.
I also doubt that my week with the Sona was enough to have any lasting impact on my behavior. I imagine that with software improvements (such as adding alerts to remind the wearer to meditate) and a simpler setup process, Caeden could help keep people at peace. But right now, other than being a truly gorgeous fitness and heart rate tracker, the Sona has too few benefits to live up to its claim. That said, at its $150 preorder price, it's still a worthy alternative to the bland-looking Fitbit Charge HR or similarly staid activity bands.