Reported by Gun-hyung Park, The Chosun Ilbo / May 23, 2017
"We’ll help you sleep.”
Global IT (information technology) giants such as Apple, Google, and Samsung Electronics and startups (initial start-ups) are swarming into the sleep tech market. These companies are introducing devices and high-tech new technologies which combine IoT and sensors to induce deep sleep and enable people to wake up refreshed and reinvigorated. Earlier this year, the ‘CES’ (Consumer Electronics Show) held in Las Vegas also launched an unprecedented sleep tech exhibition hall.
The global market for drugs, sleeping supplies and aids for treating sleep disorders is estimated to reach 35 billion dollars per year. Cha Doo-won, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Planning and Evaluation, said, "sleep tech is likely to emerge as a key pillar of the rapidly growing healthcare industry."
◇ Advanced technology to induce deep sleep and waking up.
Earlier this year, Apple acquired a Finnish startup ‘Bedit’. Bedit is a company that develops a film-type sleep tracker and app that measures and monitors people's heart rate, snoring, and depth of their sleep. Apple is expected to apply Bedit's technology to its products such as iPhone and Apple Watch. Business Insider claims the acquisition of Bedit is Apple's winning move, which uses healthcare as its next-generation growth engine and its leading-edge technology is also expected to increase sales of Apple Watch.
Additionally, Google is also jumping into the sleep market industry through developing sleep tech technology at its biotechnology subsidiary, ‘Verily’, and its smart home subsidiary, ‘Nest.’. Verily tracks people's exercise and sleep patterns through various sensors. When data obtained from Verily’s technology is entered into Nest's smart home device, it analyzes sleep conditions with sensors that are installed in the bed and then adjusts temperature, humidity, and noise, accordingly, in the home. Samsung Electronics has also developed a similar technology called 'Sleep Sense'. Specifically, Sleep Sense, an IoT device installed beneath the bed, is connected to home appliances such as TVs and air conditioners via the Internet. An official from Samsung Electronics said, "When a user falls asleep, the device turns the TV off and based on indoor temperature, can also turn the air conditioner on or off." The official has further stated that, "the release date is still being adjusted.” Last month Fitbit, a company specializing in smart bands, also released a new product called "Alta HR" that can track sleep conditions at various stages.
◇Unique Products released one after another.
Startups are also releasing products that apply unique ideas and technologies. British startup, ‘Shhhh’ has applied technology, used by NASA to keep beverage temperatures constant in space to the bed. When the body temperature of a sleeping person rises, the mattress absorbs heat and lowers the body temperature. ‘Sleep Shepherd Blue’s’ hairband, developed in the U.S., analyzes the user's brain waves to emit electromagnetic waves that induce sleep or waking up. There is also a sleep tech device that reproduces nature in the bedroom. Furthermore, the smart pillow ‘Sunrise,’ developed by Mode Modern in the U.S., contains light emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce various colors. When a user falls asleep, the pillow emits a comfortable green light, and when the user wakes up, the pillow slowly emits a red light, emulating the sun rising.
HoneyNaps, a Korean startup, joint with GE, launched a sleep tech device for newborns at the end of last year. This product incorporates four sensors, and when attached near a child’s bed, it monitors their sleep condition and can tell whether a child vomits when sleeping. There is also a function that warns parents of their child waking up.
"In the 1990s, no one was interested in their sleep patterns or mannerisms, but now everyone admits that good sleep improves work efficiency and confidence," the British Guardian said. Further adding that, "global companies are confident that jumping into sleep tech is money."