Withings unveiled the Aura “smart sleep” system on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas.
The maker of the set of communicating bedroom sensors that control a changing-color lamp claims to be able to wake sleepers at the best moment.
One part slides under the mattress to study the dozing owners while another screens their bedroom environment.
It is the first of more than a dozen sleep-related gadgets set to be launched at the event.
However, one expert warned it was too soon to know how much difference such devices could really make to purchasers’ health.
The Aura system consists of three parts:
- A soft padded sensor that is slipped under the mattress. The firm says it is able to record body movements, breathing cycles and heart rates.
- A device that should be placed next to the bed. This includes sensors to study noise levels, room temperature and light levels. In addition it contains a clock, a speaker that plays alarm sounds and a circular LED (light-emitting diode) lamp.
- A smartphone app that controls the system and provides feedback about the sleepers’ night.
The light changes color from blue to yellow and red across the course of the night on the basis of research that different light wavelengths can affect the secretion of hormones.
Studies have suggested that blue light stimulates melanopsin – a pigment found in cells in the eye’s retina, which send nerve impulses to parts of the brain thought to make a person feel alert.
Blue light is also believed to suppress melatonin – a hormone made by the brain’s pineal gland which makes a person feel sleepy when its levels rise in their blood.
By switching from blue to red light – via an intermediary yellow or white stage – this process should be reversed, encouraging a feeling of sleepiness.
Space agency NASA has previously studied the phenomenon and has announced plans to install a light-color changing system of its own into the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016.
Withings’ system is being launched at a cost of $299.
Philips recently announced a competing product at the same price. Its Wake-up Light system mimics the changing conditions created by a sunrise, turning from red to bright yellow over the course of half-an-hour before sounding an alarm. However, it does not monitor the sleepers themselves.
Other sleep-related technologies on show at CES 2014 include:
- Sensible Baby – a sensor put in an infant’s night clothes that tracks their temperature, orientation and movement. It sounds a smartphone app alarm if it detects a problem.
- Sleepow – a pillow that plays tones at slightly different frequencies for each ear, which its maker claims promotes relaxation.
- Basis – one of several new smartwatches that can monitor sleep data, in this case by studying the wearer’s heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature.