With millions of Americans suffering from some kind of sleep disorder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described sleep deprivation as a public health epidemic. Somnox is the latest attempt to address the problem using technology, this time in the form of a robotic pillow that is claimed to improve sleep by helping regulate breathing and playing sleep-inducing sounds.
Despite being labeled as a sleep robot, Somnox is more like a mechanical peanut-shaped pillow designed to be spooned. Its big sleep-aiding feature is its claimed ability to adjust your breathing patterns. By mildly expanding and contracting in a calming rhythm, the maker's of the product claim a person will slowly, and subconsciously, adjust their own breathing to mirror that of the Somnox.
As well as adjusting your breathing patterns, Somnox has a built-in speaker with an accompanying app programmed to play sounds selected to help soothe one into sleep. The system is loaded with pre-set heartbeat sounds, lullabies and guided meditations, but you can also upload your own personal playlist to help you get to sleep.
There have been a variety of hi-tech sleep aids in recent years that play with sound in an attempt to keep you asleep longer and deeper. SleepCogni uses gentle waves of light and sound to calm you and put you to sleep, while the Dreem vibrates your skull with sound waves to improve your sleep once you've drifted off.
The audio features of the Somnox at least have strong anecdotal backing. On the other hand, the breathing rhythm claims are slightly less convincing, although the company does point to several studies backing its claims that link better sleep with a slow breathing rhythm.
Ultimately, these kinds of sleep aids are sure to help some, even if it is only at the same rate of a placebo. The company suggests its own recent testing, which obviously doesn't carry as much weight as independent testing, found that after spending the night with the Somnox, 90 percent of users fell asleep faster and 70 percent felt they had a better rest.
Made from soft polyurethane mattress foam with a nylon shell and washable outer cover, Somnox weighs 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) and measures 35.5 x 20.3 x 12.7 cm (14 x 8 x 5 in). It is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, with the price set at €449 (US$527). Shipping is scheduled to start in July 2018 if all goes to plan, but the company claims to already be all set to move the product into manufacturing.
Take a look at the Somnox in the video below.
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