A solid night's sleep isn't always achievable for everyone – the estimated 50 to 70 million American adults with sleep disorder will vouch for that. And research has suggested that our increasing tendency to stare into LED screens isn't helping our cause, with the blue light emitted by our devices impacting our body's natural melatonin production. British inventor Richard Mills says he has come up with a way to counter some of the inherent difficulties in winding down. His SleepCogni bedside device places a small rectangular frame over the head of the user, designed to entice them into relaxation mode with gentle sequences of light, sound and even vibration.
SleepCogni looks much like a lamp, with a solid base housing a USB port for charging and a thin, adjustable arm stretching out over the bed with embedded speakers and LED lights on the end. This rectangular unit takes its cue from a handheld trigger, which features a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, grip force and temperature sensor.
The first thing SleepCogni does is establish the user's resting heart rate, based on the first night of use. From there, the system devises a strategy to bring the heart rate down to the target of 50 beats per minute, based not just on your physiological state, but the temperature, noise and light levels of the bedroom. The lights overhead first blink at a random frequency and color, but then become slower and dimmer in different non-stimulating colors, changing from green, to amber and then red.
The electrostatic speakers emit music and landscapes of differing tempo, timbre and pitch also intended to bring down the user's heart rate. The speakers are spread evenly around the rectangular frame, designed to create a more immersive audio experience.
Using light and sound to keep our body clocks in check is something we have seen pursued in many products, including controllable fans, soothing earplugs and bulbs that mimic natural sunlight. Where SleepCogni is claimed to offer something more is with gentle vibrations delivered through the trigger, which like the light and sound components, reduces in intensity and length the more that you relax.
By targeting three of our senses and easing off over time, SleepCogni is aimed at offering the sleep-troubled positive feedback when they're on the path to solid night's rest. The makers claim the device has been tested in a small pilot study at Sheffield Hallam University, where 50 percent of subjects reported an increase in quality of sleep and 40 percent reported an increase in sleep duration.
Once you've dozed off, the arm automatically retracts to the upright position. It can also be configured through the companion smartphone app to pounce back into action at a certain time in the morning, waking the user with light that brightens over a 30-minute period to mimic a natural sunrise. This option is also available in reverse, with a sunset function that replaces the normal sleep cues at night.
Mills has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds for commercial production of SleepCogni. Early pledges of £99 (US$150) are available, with shipping slated for June 2016 if the campaign runs as planned.
You can check out the pitch video below.