Getting a good night’s sleep is difficult for many people. Insufficient sleep is a public health problem according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates between 50 and 70 million people in the U.S. have sleep or wakefulness disorder. There are many personal health tech devices designed to improve sleep, such as the Emfit QS that is placed under the mattress and the Thim smart ring. So far, however, no one has tried to coordinate wearables with smart home control systems. Panasonic recently showed a design concept that would bridge wearable health tech and smart home control.
Panasonic and Parson’s The New School collaborated on a sleep-related health tech product they presented in prototype form at SXSW 2017. Sleepwise is a two-piece system that consists of a table top base unit and a wearable module. The wearable rests and recharges in the base unit when it is not being worn. The base unit has sensors for sound, room temperature, air quality, and humidity. The soft silicon-coated wearable module attaches to your pajamas or inside the bedding. The wearable’s sensors track body temperature and movement. Any time the wearable is removed from the base unit the system’s active sleep monitoring begins automatically. All sensor data from both pieces transmits to a Sleepwise smartphone app. The app, in turn, manages Internet of Things devices or systems in your home that can affect your sleep. Typical systems include lighting, heating and cooling, humidifiers, and fans. The Sleepwise concept is that by monitoring how you sleep, the system will learn your biorhythms. With that information, Sleepwise can adjust your home’s environment to help you go to sleep and wake up comfortably every day.
Sleepwise is still a design concept and prototype. Panasonic has made no announcements about further development. The success and usefulness of such a product depends on a large enough market with smart home controls. Smart home technology adoption is proceeding but at a slow pace. In April 2016 The Economist reported there were smart home system installations and devices in 6 percent of U.S. homes. That statistic did not count smartphones, televisions, and computers. Voice assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home may speed smart home device adoption with their respective growing interconnectivity across smart home brands. It’s not inconceivable today that someone could design a system that can bridge personal wearables with smart home controls such as envisioned with Sleepwise. The pieces are already in place. The data Sleepwise would collect is already available in existing health tech products. Systems that use IFTTT (If This Then That) recipes to connect and control most smart home devices are also already on the market. So all it takes now is for both markets to be large enough to make it worthwhile for a company such as Panasonic to build products that bridge them.