FitTech Insider

How can your device help us relax, Stefanie Broes?

Providing support through breathing exercises is the intention of the startup moonbird. Stefanie Broes and her brother Michael invented a small device to help with stress, anxiety, and sleeping problems by guiding and improving people’s respiration.

Are you suffering from stress, anxiety, or sleeping disorders? If yes you are not alone – around 40 percent of the population is struggling with one of these issues. Living during a global pandemic, the importance of mental health has become even more relevant.

According to Stefanie Broes, co-founder of the startup moonbird, more and more people are looking for ways to work on their mental well-being through awareness methods like breathing techniques. „Scientific research has increasingly demonstrated the beneficial effects of breathing exercises on your body: to lower your blood pressure, your heart rate and triggering the natural relaxation response of your body“, she explains. While multiple apps offer an auditive or visual guide for breathing exercises, not all people find it easy to begin, follow them, and doing the exercise correctly, says Stefanie, who started moonbird with her brother Michael Broes. Intending to make the method easier to start with and without the need for a smartphone, the company works with the sense of touch. „We wanted to make mindfulness and breathing techniques ductile and very intuitive, which is why we developed a physical tool.“

Breathing device Moonbird: How does it work?

The moonbird is a little device, that, while you hold it in your hand, swells and shrinks like a balloon. With these given motions and rhythm you should match your breath during your exercises. Additionally, the moonbird has a little black eye on its surface – a heartbeat sensor, that’s measuring during your exercise and showing you the biofeedback afterward in the moonbird app. Due to this data, the device is able to evaluate your optimal breathing rate and to help you find the perfect exercises for your needs and tempo.

About Stefanie Broes
Stefanie and her brother Michael: „What we are setting up is, that the Belgian athletes would use a moonbird during the upcoming Olympics.“ (@moonbird)

Stefanie Broes is the founder of of Belgium-based (Keerbergen) Moonbird, a physical product that helps people to breathe and calm down consciously. She studied biomedical sciences and has a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences. “Conscious breathing reduces stress”, she says.

Target groups: athletes, children, people with pain

The moonbird was developed in collaboration with physicians and end-users, which helped the company to optimize the product for the target group: people with anxiety, stress, and sleeping disorders. What they see now is, that the audience is actually bigger than they thought. According to Stefanie, also people with different related problems are using a moonbird: children with focusing problems, people with physical pain, depression, or autism. Another unexpected target group seems to be athletes. „They proactively using moonbirds to focus themselves before a competition.“, Stefanie explains. Athletes present also a group moonbird wants to address more in the future. Therefore they are figuring out a project for the Olympic Games. „What we are setting up is, that the Belgian athletes would use a moonbird during the upcoming Olympics.“

Moonbird's journey: How it mastered the chip crisis

In general, according to Stefanie, the moonbird company, which was founded one and a half years ago, managed to almost completely follow their plan. „The most surprising thing is that we were right in the beginning.“, Stefanie laughs. But there were also challenges to encounter, with Covid19 causing the biggest problem of all. The overconsumption of electronic goods and the simultaneously production-stop in China lead to a shortage of chip components globally – the „chip-crisis“ as Stefanie calls it. Despite the short-term lack of the resource, production was only delayed by a few weeks, which, considering the current circumstances, is remarkable.

Moonbird's USP: "Something that you hold, you can feel it, it breathes for you"

Regarding the consequences of the pandemic, the topic of mental health also takes center stage – and the market is responding to it. For Stefanie, this means on one side, that there is a problem growing. On the other, she is happy about the fact, that people are looking for solutions. „Mental wellbeing is all about people, it’s all about social interaction, which is probably also what we are kind of missing right now, right?“, says Stefanie, „We as human beings need this sense of touch, most technologies forget about.“ With the moonbird the company is trying to fill this gap. „In Dutch we say a “houvast” – it’s something that you hold, you can feel it, it breathes for you, it supports you. And I think that’s quite nice to see that our technology adds that“, Stefanie explains.

The moonbird is a little device, that, while you hold it in your hand, swells and shrinks like a balloon. (

Moonbird and the market: Stefanie highlights Headspace

Being very positive about the market growing, Stefanie highlights Headspace as one of her favorite companies out, a successful meditation platform and app. „I think they did a tremendous job in making something quite religious and spiritual to something attractive, fun, and engaging. They created this world almost, you want to be part of it.“ Regarding Headspace as kind of a role model, Stefanie also hopes to create with moonbird a brand, which makes mental well-being more attractive. „I still think that there are some leadership roles to be taken in that space. We need these companies that say mental health is something that should be part of your daily life.“

Moonbird's vision: Creating more awareness around breathing

In order to grow to a leading company in the market, moonbird wants to add more products to its portfolio. With new outcomes, they also want to differentiate breathing exercises from other awareness techniques. According to Stefanie a lot of people think all these things are the same, but that’s not the truth. „With breathing, you voluntarily change the rage of your breath and with that, you trigger effects in your body, it’s very physiologically. This is different from meditating, where you are just paying attention to your breath, which is something very cognitive.“ The vision of moonbird is to create more awareness around breathing and everything related to it. “We want to show people, how important your breath is to check in with yourself, but also to steer how you feel and to lower your stress, to just feel better.“

Stefanie herself needs her moonbird primarily for falling asleep, as she tends to start worrying at night. „Due to this problem, I’m doing breathing exercises. But without my moonbird, the worries take over my mind within seconds again, while doing the exercise with my moonbird, I immediately come back to my breath, if something pops up in my mind.“ While worrying at night is the number one reason why you are not falling asleep, the moonbird could be the solution for many restless nights - especially in an uncertain time like the one we live in right now.