We’ve already seen a number of sleep monitors in the IoT space, so why is Sense creating such a sensation? The answer appears to be Sense’s unique emphasis on monitoring not only the user’s sleep, but the sleep environment -- and feeding that data back to the user so they can improve their sleep.
Sense is actually two components. The base unit is a tennis ball-sized sphere with a cutaway pattern of intersecting lines through which it can glow with subtle colors from internal LEDs. Inside are sensors to track noise, light, temperature, humidity, and even dust and other particles in the air at night.
The other component is the Sleep Pill, a small lozenge that attaches to the user’s pillow. With an accelerometer and gyroscope, it monitors the user’s movement patterns and can tell the difference between sleeping soundly, thrashing about, and stretching into a morning yawn. Data from the Sleep Pill is sent to Sense over Bluetooth LE and ANT, another low-energy communication protocol. (It’s worth noting that in response to feedback, Hello is redesigning the Sleep Pill to use a replaceable coin battery.)
All the data is then uploaded to cloud servers over WiFi, where it is processed and made accessible to the user through a smartphone app. By showing correlations, like a disruption in sleep quality that occurred after a loud noise at 3am, or a really deep sleep whenever you opt for AC instead of letting hot, sticky summer air in through the window, Sense can help you understand the environmental factors impacting your sleep and take steps to improve them.
Another neat feature is the “smart alarm,” which uses data from the Sleep Pill to attempt to wake the user up a few minutes early if it detects a pattern of light sleep as the alarm time approaches. If the timing doesn’t work out, the alarm will sound as scheduled.
Some people have raised concerns about data privacy, especially since Sense is using US-based Amazon servers for cloud storage and processing. Sleep is a rather intimate and personal part of our lives, after all. Hello has responded with an update explaining the details of the encryption and other security features, and highlighting the advantages of not having to sync the device directly with a smartphone, which makes it easier for the user to access their data from anywhere. Users can also access the raw data directly through the API and other tools.
Sense’s Kickstarter runs through August 22. Check out the video below to learn more.
Author: Ted Burnham