At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 this past week, a Warsaw-based startup called IQ Intelclinic was showing off an intelligent sleeping mask that uses sensors to monitor the wearers’ sleep cycles, including REM and non-REM sleep, in order to determine if you’re getting quality Zzz’s at night. The mask uses small electrodes pressed to your head surrounded by cushy material called viscoelastic foam for comfort, and then pairs with an accompanying mobile application so you can view data regarding your sleeping and waking behaviors, and identify possible problems like sleep apnea.
“There are three electrodes which measure your brainwaves, eye movement and muscle tension,” explains co-founder Kamil Adamczyk, who’s now completing medical school in Poland. He says the mask’s electronics send a signal to an amplifier, analyze the signal using various artificial intelligence methods, then send the signal over Bluetooth to the users’ smartphone.” IQ Intelclinic’s other co-founder, Krzysztof Chojnowski, has a PhD in electronics, which is how the company is able to make their own electrodes for use in the mask.
The company has been working on the technology since March 2013, after the founders met while attending university. Adamczyk says he was inspired to build something like this because, as a medical student, he wasn’t getting enough sleep. “We decided to create a device for people to help them sleep less, but much more efficiently” he says. These days, he says he sleeps only three hours a night then takes short naps during the day.
Since the device works with an app that can identify when you’re in REM and non-REM sleep, it lets you configure settings so your alarm only wakes you after you complete a full sleep cycle. To do so, users turn a dial in the app’s settings to get them a “buffer” of sorts around the exact alarm time. Then, instead of waking you at a pre-determined time like alarms do today, it wakes you after you’ve completed your sleep cycle.
You can also configure the device to account for other sleep disturbances like jet lag, or use it for power naps or poliphasic sleep, like Adamczyk does.
The prototypes on display in TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley were charged using a battery, but the company will launch a Kickstarter campaign for a device that charges via microUSB instead. IQ Intelclinic has $65,000 (USD) from local angels, and hopes to raise $100,000 through crowdfunding in order to start shipping. The device, which they’re calling the “Zizz,” will sell for $225, though early backers will be able to buy in for $180. Says Adamczyk, the company eventually wants to be able to detect serious sleep disturbances as well as other things, like seizures, for example. But this would require FDA approval, which they don’t have at this time, given how early they are into development.
You can learn more on the company’s website here, or sign up to back the device.