Wearable technology solutions clearly have many compelling applications when it comes to fitness, health, and medical applications. But as the old saying goes, “Give a kid a hammer, and the whole world looks like a nail.” It is possible that some product developers are using “wearable” as a hammer, and trying to force fit that attribute to products that may not need it. As an example of another way of viewing a problem, consider the Sense from Hello. It is a two-piece sleep monitor system, but you don’t wear either piece. The control module plugs into a power outlet in your room, and the sensor puck (the “Sleep Pill”) clips to the pillowcase on your pillow.
The system senses and analyzes the ambient environment while you’re in bed: light, sound, temperature, and humidity. It even measures invisible airborne particles, such as dust or pollen, which can affect sleep for some individuals how have allergies. It can even sense and store information about loud sounds or flashes of light that might disturb your sleep. The Sleep Pill contains an accelerometer and gyroscope so that it can detect your movements while you sleep. The Sleep Pill communicates with the base unit using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and runs for a year on a replaceable coin battery. If you share your bed, your partner can have a Sleep Pill as well, and the two devices will communicate separately with a single base unit.
The software analyzes your sleep behavior, and provides a score from 1 to 100. The base unit can also serve as an alarm clock. If you program it to wake you at 7:30 AM, for example, and the system detects that you’re starting to wake at 7:15, it will wake you up then rather than wait and possibly let you fall back into a deeper sleep.
Hello has launched the Sense system with a Kickstarter campaign. The company set an initial goal of $100,000, and at the time this was written, more than $1.3 million had been pledged with three weeks remaining in the campaign. Backers can get a Sense for $99; the pre-order price will be $129.
This is a case where a mobile-but-not-wearable solution makes good sense. Most people sleep in their bed, so there’s no need to have the device follow you around (as is the case with a fitness tracker). It is more convenient to simply “set it and forget it” in your bedroom where it is always ready for when you go to bed. Wearable Health Tech products are certainly going to revolutionize fitness, health, and medical applications, but they are not necessarily the best choice for every situation.