The Zen of Electronic Product Design and Wellness

When you think of a hardware startup, chances are your first thought isn’t about a meditation training device. Yet in our very noisy, stressful world, meditation is becoming a pervasive and effective way to reduce stress and improve overall mental wellness. In this article, you’ll learn about how Core Wellness Co-founder, Sarah McDevitt, left Microsoft to launch Core Wellness and develop the Core personal meditation trainer.

Judy Warner: Please briefly share about your professional background and what inspired the development of Core Wellness.

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Sarah McDevitt, Co-Founder of Core Wellness

Sara McDevitt: At a transitional point in my life, I left my career at Microsoft to pursue a graduate degree at Stanford, where I worked closely with high school students. I saw stress and anxiety getting in the way of their goals in school, and knew the same problem weighs on adults, myself included. This led to researching the science behind mindfulness and stress reduction as a method to help people be the best version of themselves. Shortly thereafter I met my co-founder Brian and we started working on a way to make meditation more tangible, approachable, and modern.

Warner: Please explain what the device does, and what health benefits it has.

McDevitt: The benefits of meditation span from improved attention and memory to better sleep, pain reduction, and more. Meditation apps are becoming increasingly popular, but many people have a difficult time sticking with it, as there is no way to track your progress. Core is a handheld meditation trainer that guides you with a soothing pulse. Meanwhile, it measures your heart rhythm via ECG, and with this data, we can analyze changes in your stress levels during a session as well as over time to create an experience tailored to you.

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Core device charges easily for use at home or away

Warner: What type of PCB(s) are inside the device and whom on your team, or the Bolt team, helped develop the functionality and design?

McDevitt: We have three different PCBs in the product, two of which are 4-layer medium density boards.  Through the development process of this product we have iterated on each of these boards three times for bug fixes and feature requests. We also use non-form-factor boards to make development easier.

The development of any highly integrated experience, like Core, requires lots of collaboration with cross-functional teams and because of that, it is hard to say who hasn’t contributed to the final design. The entire engineering team at Bolt has helped us bring Core to life, as well as mechanical engineering and industrial design outside the company. Some of the individuals who worked on the boards are: Jim Paris, Carsten Jensen, and Avery Louie from Bolt, and Brian Bolze and Bashir Ziady from our team.

Warner: Our mutual friends at the startup accelerator Bolt have helped you turn Core from idea to reality. How specifically have they helped you along the way?

McDevitt: Bolt has been incredible. Tyler and his team have brought to bear world-class engineering talent with decades of experience to help with engineering and design at one of the most critical stages of an early hardware startup. Specifically, they have helped with: ID, ME, EE, sourcing, planning, and strategy.

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Core fingertip touchpad gives pulses gently and measures heart rate through a custom app.

Warner: What steps have you taken to get your product to market thus far?

McDevitt: Last year, we produced a batch of several hundred Core and quickly sold out. We used final production methods for parts but did assembly in-house in order to test and identify design-for-assembly improvements and critical quality points. Now, we are in the process of scaling production with a contract manufacturing partner; we’ve been privately working with influencers including professional athletes and artists in preparation for launch. Our team is growing quickly, so we encourage your readers to check out our jobs page for openings.

Warner: When do you expect the next batch to be ready for market?

McDevitt: Stay tuned throughout the summer and fall for some big announcements. More Core is coming soon! You can sign up here to be the first to hear updates on availability, events, and more.

Warner: Sarah, what impact do you hope your device will have on your customers and the user community you are building?

We believe that training the mind is as important as training the body, not only for the 1 in 5 people diagnosed with a mental health condition but for everyone. This certainly is important to each of us on our team. We are here to help our customers be the best version of themselves and to build a community where individuals support each other not only in mental wellness but also in the other pillars of their life. Core is the first product experience we’re launching for our community.

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Core personal meditation trainer in use at home

Warner: Finally, what myths exist about meditation currently, and how will you address these?

McDevitt: We hear people express doubt that they are too fidgety, too “Type A”, or that they “can’t turn their brain off” to meditate. At Core, we believe everyone is capable of and would benefit from meditation. It isn’t about emptying your mind completely or stopping all thought, but rather noticing your thoughts without judgment and bringing your mind back to a point of focus.

Another myth is that meditation is a magic bullet. Like all skills in life, meditation requires consistency and a bit of work. The benefits are oftentimes life-changing, but they come over time with a dedication to the habit.

Warner: We wish you great success with Core, Sarah and look forward to what is to come from Core Wellness. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your unique story and vision.

McDevitt: Absolutely, Judy and thank you for allowing me to share it with you and the Altium community.

About the Author

Judy Warner


Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing.

She has been a writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters.

In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and immediately launched Altium’s OnTrack Newsletter.
She led the launch of AltiumLive: Annual PCB Design Summit, a new and annual Altium User Conference.

Judy's passion is to provide resources, support and to advocate for PCB Designers around the world.

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