What’s up with all the wearable sleep technology?

By Wuefab - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40715636

“FitBit Charge HR” By Wuefab – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

It’s touted as “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary,” but what exactly is wearable consumer sleep technology?

Here’s a look inside this burgeoning field of consumer products.

Please note: As a matter of policy, SleepyHeadCENTRAL does not endorse any products mentioned in this curation. SHC also encourages consumers to be skeptical of claims made by any consumer technology product manufacturer and to fully understand how a product works and whether the purpose of the product has any real practical application to their lives.

The brave new world of wearables

The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showcased a brand-new “sleep technology” wing featuring a multitude of new products meant to help people sleep better by various means.

One of the most popular facets of consumer sleep technology is the wearable device, which is meant to give the user information that can help them to better identify any problems they might be having with sleep (or to confirm they are getting enough sleep).

You might be more familiar with other kinds of wearable devices, such as the hearing aid. Writer Abhishek Budholiya, in an article for Tech Guru Daily (February 1, 2017) carves out the history of wearable medical equipment and how new developments in sleep tracking are part of the larger trend shaped by connective medical IoT (the Internet of Things).

Wearables, defined

These can include wristbands, watches, rings, forehead pads, headbands, earbuds, earphones, eyewear, eye masks, helmets, sleeves, fingertip probes, sleepwear, and waist belts. Literally anything you can attach to your body that serves to measure some particular metric is considered a wearable.

How do they work?

It depends entirely upon the wearable, how it is worn, and the end goal. To answer this question is far beyond the scope of this blog as these gadgets all claim various kinds of technology to perform various kinds of tasks.

Suffice it to say, by whatever means, these devices purport to measure certain kinds of data (such as pulse, body temperature, respiratory patterns, brain waves, or muscle movements).  Goals can include measuring quantity of sleep, quality of sleep, snoring, and/or REM patterns.

But do wearables work?

Maybe the question is not “do they work?” but “how do they help?” or “what is the point?”

Reasons for optimism

As with any brand-new technology, there will be gimmicks, lack of precision, hardware and software bugs, and lots of questions about why people would need to use these devices.

What usually happens with new technology is that the best of the crop emerges because it can stand up to consumer use over time and provide inherent value by filling an unmet need. This will happen with sleep tracking wearables, as well.

Even if you don’t have a sleep disorder, a sleep wearable may still be useful to you if it can provide you with a generalized data analysis about your sleep habits that could help you improve upon your own bedtime best practices.

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About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

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