If you go to a sleep clinic for a polysomnogram, prepare to be covered in equipment, from the electrodes on on your head, chest, limbs, and fingers to belts around your chest and stomach. The sensors and other devices measure brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, duration of breaths, and blood pressure. That fitness tracker on your wrist, alternatively, is just using an accelerometer to measure movement.
Obviously no one wants to be covered in sensors on a nightly basis, but to make sleep tracking a little more accurate, some device makers are looking at getting equipment off your body and onto your bed. The idea of weaving sensors into a mattress pad to track breathing and heart rate isn’t new, admits Jake Boshernitzan, co-founder of Sleepra, but that’s just one of the product’s functions, he tells Digital Trends.
Competitors like Luna also track sleep, but Boshernitzan’s company has two patents on technology that basically lets you turn your existing mattress into a sort of touchpad. “Our magic touch is our IP regarding gestures,” he says.
“What spawned the idea for us was originally connecting to smart home in a better way, free you from screens,” Boshernitzan further explains. The idea is to let you control all your devices — connected thermostats, lights, and locks — from the comfort of your bed, without having to illuminate your whole room with the glow of your smartphone. Tap the bed twice to turn out the lights, or draw an “L” to lock the door.
Sleepra’s pad is a 24-inch equilateral triangle; it won’t take over your whole bed and at two millimeters thick shouldn’t be too noticeable. It lives between your sheets and mattress and plugs into the wall. Three built-in accelerometers work a bit like GPS satellites, triangulating the movement. “In our case, it’s not location data but intensity data,” Boshernitzan says. If you tap three times in the right corner, that accelerometer will get the strongest signal, and the other two will get weaker ones, helping to decipher between gestures. To ensure your nighttime fidgets don’t lead to you mistakenly ratcheting up the thermostat at night, a “pre-gesture” is required to awaken the Sleepra. Each pre-gesture is unique, so if your partner has one, too, you aren’t setting off each others’ pads. You get make up your own gestures, too, letting you tailor the easiest ones to the functions you’ll use most frequently.
Both the sleep tracking and gesture control work through Wi-Fi, though you can choose not to have your biometric data sync with your account. Boshernitzan says the company understands users’ privacy concerns and doesn’t share your data.
Startup accelerator Seed Sumo selected Sleepra for its program this year, and now the company plans to launch an Indiegogo campaign for the pad in June. The price is not yet finalized, but Boshernitzan expects it to be between $150 and $200. Everyone who signs up for the company’s newsletter will get an email the day before the campaign launches, allowing them a chance to purchase a pad for half the price and 100 people will receive a free Sleepra. While the company hopes to ship the Sleepra six to eight months after funding ends, there are still a few kinks to work out; it wants a more robust iOS and Android app, and the gesture-recognition tech needs a little work. It can recognize a “V” shape but still has some difficulty with curves.
You can pair the Sleepra with your Nest, WeMo, or other smart-home devices via IFTTT. “Our goal is to integrate with as many smart-home APIs as possible, says Boshernitzan, “to make the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can do from bed.”