Sleep tracking seems to be getting hotter every day with many companies jumping in with their own sleep tracking methods. Some use wrist-worn devices and others head masks that cover your eyes. Now, the Paris-based company Withings is looking to offer a new way to track those sleeping hours with the Aura.
The Aura uses a pad under the mattress to detect body movement, breathing cycles and heart rate, something that the company says will be a much better indicator to measure sleep patterns. What’s new about the Aura is that the tracking pad under the mattress (which is the real novelty) connects to a bedside led light that changes light color and intensity to help you wake up & fall asleep – using the data from the mattress pad to fit your body state.
In an interesting move, the bedside light will also track noise pollution, room temperature, and light levels. These indicators may be helpful to understand one’s sleep routines but can also play a bigger role in crowdsourcing new worldwide data maps from the crowds, similar to what Netatmo did by aggregating data from its home weather stations to create the biggest crowdsourced weather map.
While there is no real innovation behind the Aura, it appears to be a clean execution of all things sleep tracking. The idea that light color and intensity will affect the release of hormones responsible of our sleep/alertness cycles is well known, and backed up by science, but no other company had connected the light with the sleep tracking device itself – Philips also had a “sunrise lamp” to ease wake up but only based on waking up time. Overall I think the Aura is very well designed and I would love to have one in my room. It connects many ideas around sleep tracking into one good looking product, and the cool thing about the Aura is that it’s not just about measuring yourself, it’s about acting on your data to improve your daily routine. Given Withings data openness, this will also fit well with any Quantified Self setup, which is a huge plus.
At this moment, I think only tech geeks and OCDs use these kind of tech to monitor themselves, but maybe 2014 will bring sleep tracking to the crowds – Withings announcing the Aura at CES might be an indication of that. I just wonder until when we are going to look at these objects with a sense of naivety and say “oh look, sleep tracking – so cool!” before companies start selling our sleep patterns for others to exploit that information, there is much you can learn from someone’s personal life by knowing how they sleep.
The Aura will be released in Spring 2014 and will sell at 299€, plus the free mobile app (iOS and Android). If you’re looking forward to buy one, leave your e-mail on their website to get notified.