Although technically not a wearable in the sense that it isn’t worn on your person, the Sense sleep tracker from San Francisco-based start-up Hello is so personal that it may as well be.
Truth be told, founder and CEO James Proud specifically designed it to not be a wearable. “It felt so unnatural to be worrying about putting something on, charging it, remembering to press buttons…we believe that technology needs to disappear,” he explains in the company’s Kickstarter video. “It didn’t make sense to us that we’d been told to put something on just as we get into bed.”
Sense comes in the form of a sleek geometric sphere and monitors room temperature, ambient light, humidity, and noise. It contains a sensor capable of detecting sleep-disrupting particles such as pollen, and turns green when it senses that the room meets all the factors for an optimal sleeping environment. Currently retailing at $129, it also harbors a speaker and a microphone capable of discerning between, say, your snoring partner and a car alarm down the street.
Here’s where the “wearable part” comes in: A little pillow clip-on aptly named the “Sleep Pill” tracks nighttime tossing and turning with a built in accelerometer and gyroscope, transmitting data to the orb via Bluetooth Low Energy. Sense will know when to wake you up “at the right time” based on your sleep pattern. The sound logic here is as follows: “If you want to be up at 9:30, but you’re already half awake at 9:15, then your alarm should know to go off then, not wait for you to fall deeper into sleep.”
The Sphere in turn relates data to a companion smartphone app, which is used to deliver a daily sleep score. Proud notes the idea here is that “by monitoring your environment and recognizing your sleeping patterns, Sense is able to provide you with detailed insights that allow you to better understand your sleep,” which in turn allows you to “make more effective decisions about your routine, and sleep better as a result.”
Aside from functionality, Sense stands out in its unique aesthetically pleasing design. You’d think style would be an obvious feature in an activity tracker, but history has shown this to not always be the case. Sense however has managed to marry design and function to birth a pretty little egg.
“The bedroom is a highly personal space, and people take great care in choosing what they bring into it,” says Proud. “In creating something meant to be placed in on a nightstand, it was important to us that it should be something beautiful — almost like a piece of art — that people would enjoy having there anyway.”
Another unique feature of Hello is the impressive list of external investors involved, including Facebook, Spotify, Paypal, and Xiaomi executives, who helped raised $10.5 million on top of the $2.5 million in Kickstarter funds. While companies like Jawbone and Fitbit have sleep sensors in some of their devices, these have limited functionality and are reportedly inconsistent in their readings.
Sense aims to overcome this boundary, and fairly seamlessly at that. “Everything with Sense is designed to fade away,” says Proud. “You should simply be able to just… sleep.”