This ‘smart pillow’ uses low-frequency sound waves to help you sleep better

Ever used a sleep tracker before? The idea is pretty straightforward. By using sensors to collect data on your sleeping patterns, you can begin to pinpoint things that might be affecting the quality of your rest. Then, armed with this knowledge, you can make little lifestyle adjustments to improve your sleep, and wake up feeling more energized and alert.

While that technology has benefited many, St. Louis-based startup Ultradia thinks it has a better approach. Rather than merely tracking your sleeping habits and putting the onus on you to optimize them, the company has created a clever new device called Chrona that does all the optimization for you. In addition to tracking your sleep patterns, Chrona uses a novel application of technology to boost the quality of your sleep — no lifestyle changes required.

Here’s the theory behind the device. Like Fitbit and other wearable trackers, Chrona tracks sleep based on motion. But instead of being attached to your wrist, Chrona is placed in your pillowcase, where it measures the movements of your head and torso. Based on these movements, it can reliably tell where you are in your sleep cycle.

chronaWhen Chrona detects that you’re in a deep sleep, it uses a set of small speakers to send out low-frequency sound waves. Apparently, these waves complement and enhance those created by your brain. Sounds in this delta-frequency range synchronize and enhance deep sleep, which studies have shown to be beneficial for memory and cognition.

As rosy-fingered dawn approaches, Chrona can switch to playing higher-frequency sounds to help you enter a lighter state of sleep before your alarm plays in the morning. When you’re relaxed with your eyes closed, your brain expresses its highest activity in the alpha-frequency range (such as during meditation). Chrona’s “Perfect Wake-Up” feature uses sound in that same frequency range to prepare your mind to wake up.

It sounds crazy, but apparently all of this is backed up by legitimate research. It is indeed possible to increase the magnitude of the brainwaves produced during deep sleep (slow wave sleep) through acoustic stimulation.

Ultradia has produced a handful of working prototypes, and has recently turned to Kickstarter to bring Chrona to production. If you back the project now, you can lock down one of the first models for a pledge of 100 bucks. If the project meets its funding goal and everything goes smoothly, Ultradia expects to begin shipping sometime around December.

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