Silent Partner

This is the time of year that “Silent Night” can be heard in nearly every shopping mall and restaurant across the land, but there are people who yearn for a silent night all year long. If your partner snores, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Snoring can be linked with sleep apnea, which can lead to other complications or even death, but some people can sleep soundly while blasting away like a chainsaw. And this can make sleep difficult for a person sharing the same bed.

Silent Partner is a company that is taking an unusual approach to the problem of snoring. Rather than treat the cause of the snoring, it addresses the effect. A small, lightweight device sits across the bridge of your nose, and small adhesive pads hold the small modules to your cheeks. These modules use active noise cancellation — much like the popular Bose headphones — to create sound waves that are opposite to the snoring sounds. Here’s how it works (at least in theory). Imagine someone holding one end of a rope, with the other end attached to a wall. If that person shakes the rope up and down in rhythm, the rope will form waves. Now, if someone else holds the other end of the rope and moves that end up and down, opposite to the first person’s movements, the two sets of waves will cancel each other out, and the rope will remain straight in the middle. The Silent Partner has microphones that listen for the snoring sounds, and then generates the sounds required to counter those sound waves.

It is an interesting concept, but the product is not scheduled to ship until November 2016 so we’ll have to wait a while before we find out how effective it will really be. A lot of people think it’s a great idea; the company’s Indiegogo campaign has raised nearly five times its target of $40,000. One concern about such a product is that it may encourage people to avoid getting checked for sleep apnea, but it could be a boon for domestic tranquility.