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Hands on: Intelclinic Neuro:on

Banish your alarm clock forever with Neuro:on, a gentler way to wake up

Who doesn’t want a better night’s sleep? The Neuro:on, once it’s finished, has the potential to give us exactly that, with the added bonus of never needing to set a noisy alarm ever again.

Everyone hates alarm clocks. But we’ve all got to wake up for something in the morning, and leaving the time to chance just isn’t possible. What if there was a way to get back to nature and wake up with the sunrise, just like we would have done before the alarm clock was even invented?

The Neuro:on is a smart sleep mask that provides exactly this function, along with a host of other features designed to ensure our nights are suitably restful, and properly prepare us for the day ahead. Originally launched as a Kickstarter project in 2014, the mask is nearing the final stages of development, and we’ve taken a look at one of the final prototypes.

At the front of the mask is a removable “brain” where all the clever stuff happens.

At the moment, the mask itself looks like a bulkier version of one you’d find already adorning faces at night, but it’ll be slimmed down and made more comfortable before it goes on sale. Not that it’s uncomfortable now, but it is rather rudimentary. At the front of the mask is a removable “brain” where all the clever stuff happens. It’s made of plastic with various bumps and sensors on it now, but the production model will be smooth, flat, and covered in silicone. Initially available in only a few colors, personalization options will be sold later on in the year.

Using a combination of sensors including an EEG, an accelerometer, and a temperature sensor, the mask monitors every aspect of your sleep. We’ve seen intelligent alarm systems before, which wake you up during a light stage of sleep to help you feel more refreshed, but it still involves something noisy, or an annoying vibration. The Neuro:on is different: It creates an artificial dawn.

A series of lights flash for milliseconds at a time as you approach the time to wake up, gently bringing the body out of sleep, completely negating the need for an actual alarm clock. I was skeptical this would be enough to wake someone up, but trying on the mask with my eyes closed, the lights are easily bright enough to be seen, and as the “dawn” gets closer, I could imagine how it would be a relaxing way to wake up. There is a vibrate alert too, just in case.

Neuroon-sleep-mask-2

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It goes beyond being a simple alarm-clock replacement too. It’s designed to ensure you get the best sleep in the amount of time you have available, and can manipulate your sleep patterns using light therapy, or combat jet-lag in a convenient way using light therapy. It’s even possible to change the way you sleep entirely, and could help switch your body clock to unconventional patterns, such as short, set blocks of time over an extended period. The data can pinpoint sleep disorders, and the company is working on a medically approved version, although the consumer model won’t be sold as such.

The technology and data collected by the mask syncs with Bluetooth to your smartphone in the morning, and doesn’t need to be connected overnight. It’s powered by a small battery that should be good for around five days use, based on eight hours of sleep each night, and is recharged using a micro USB connection. The mask itself can be washed in a machine, and the material is hypoallergenic.

If there’s a downside to the Neuro:on, it’ll be getting used to wearing it in bed. It’s a blackout mask, and even the model I tried — which didn’t fit me well — made everything very, very dark. I’m not sure how I’d feel about being closed off from the world so completely. Additionally, unless sleep masks are something you use regularly now, a period of adjustment will certainly be needed at first.

Neuro:on plans to have the first units go into production around May this year, ready for shipping to Kickstarter backers and those who pre-order over the course of the summer, starting in June. It’s priced at $300, and can be ordered and shipped worldwide via the company’s website.

Highs

  • No more alarm clocks
  • Get the best sleep in the time available
  • Sensible battery life

Lows

  • Design still needs to be finalized
  • It’s quite expensive