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Sleep, bed sensors and the Internet of Caring Things

How retro: Bed sensors come into the mainstream.  These days, we seem to be really obsessed with tracking our sleep. Or rather, tech firms like Samsung want to track our sleep with their tech. SLEEPSense will give you a sleep score (Yay!) and even turn off the TV if you've fallen asleep while watching. That's why they invested in EarlySense, an Israeli company, and made an effort to learn ways to improve sleep quality. But this isn't really new:  tech trying to improve sleep has been around the wearables market for a while, along with white noise generators and the like. BamLabs, for example, was noted (or notable) at least four years ago with its bed sensor offering.

Trade shows love this stuff. Never one to miss a perceived trend, CES featured an $8000 smart bed in 2014. How about that 2013 InteliPillow with its ‘whisper-quiet pump’?  Or the crazy Zeo headband from 2012 (out of business). Or that Starry Night bed from 2008 (so CES)? Have any of these products improved our sleep? Not so far, according to the latest sleep quality study – pain is a significant factor in limiting sleep, but even among the healthy, getting enough sleep is an issue – and smartphones have really wrecked our nights, and maybe our days too.

Back to SleepSense, the Internet of Things thing.  So many IoT gadgets in search of a useful purpose – perhaps encouraged by a research report in 2014, noting the $97 million sleep-related tracker market was 'ripe' for a consumer-facing technology.  So that market saw many sleepy wearables, including Fitbit (never mind that lawsuit), Microsoft Band (has to be started up manually at night) and the no-contact Withings Aura (never mind all that whining on Amazon about whether it worked).  Perhaps Samsung saw that there was a void, perhaps some more room in the bedroom, for something under the mattress that you don’t have to wear, that will quietly watch you without glowing in the dark.

Wouldn’t this v3.0 tech be great for caregivers of seniors?  In fact bed-exit alarm technology or bed departure tech has been used in the senior market for quite a few years, marketed by a variety of players, some gone now, but wait, there’s research describing it published as recently as last week.  But don’t tell the tech companies like Samsung. They are no doubt searching for a mass-market hit, a young person's market, in their Internet of Things push. They haven’t yet glommed onto the potential of the Internet of Caring Things -- where bed exit technology could be really useful.


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