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Fitbit's new Alta HR to bring features that will help you sleep better

Why it matters to you

The Alta HR will be the first Fitbit device that is able to tell you which stage of sleep you currently are in.

A year after releasing the Fitbit Alta, Fitbit is ready to make your fitness wristband smarter at analyzing your sleep. Debuting with the upcoming Fitbit Alta HR are two new features to give you even more insight into your daily activities: Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights.

With the new Sleep Insights feature, your Fitbit uses machine learning to coalesce all of your Fitbit data, along with the more than 3 billion nights of sleep Fitbit has tracked since 2012, into personalized recommendations on how improving your sleep can improve you health. If you usually sleep six hours during weekdays, but average nine hours over the weekend, your Fitbit Alta HR may suggest to you that you are not getting enough sleep during the week.

More: If you’ve thought about buying a Fitbit, now is a good time

For the new Sleep Stages feature, your Fitbit will accurately estimate how long you have spent in light, deep, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is powered by Fitbit’s most requested feature, PurePulse, the continuous automatic heart rate tracking found in the Fitbit Charge 2.

Both features will be available this spring, and not just on the Alta HR. Through an update on the iOS, Android, and Windows Fitbit app, the sleep stages feature will also work on the Blaze and Charge 2 devices. The Sleep Insights feature will be available on all Fitbit devices that track sleep via the Fitbit app.

Machine learning has gained popularity in recent years since IBM Watson’s Jeopardy dominance in 2011, but Fitbit has been working the technology into its fitness trackers for even longer. Shelton Yuen, Fitbit’s vice president of research, told Digital Trends popular Fitbit features such as automatically recognizing when someone is asleep requires machine learning

In order for your Fitbit to think for itself, it needs to have a relatively large knowledge base, and Fitbit’s billions of nights of sleep data put it in a rare position to leverage machine learning. “You have to get to a critical point, where you have enough data where you can make conclusions, before you can really start to reach things like a Sleep Insights feature,” Yuen said.

The Alta HR’s slim design housing the PurePulse heart rate tracking required Fitbit to think smaller. Yuen said Fitbit started working on the Alta HR roughly 18 months ago. Around the same time, Fitbit was working on a one-of-a-kind chip able to reduce the amount of components and space needed inside the Fitbit to operate PurePulse in such a slim design.

The Fitbit Alta HR will retail at $150 when it is released in April. You can pre-order one today at Fitbit’s official website.