There are lots of devices out there that track your sleep, but there's now a product that's meant to both track and improve your sleep.
It's a "smart pillow" called Chrona, and it launched on Kickstarter on Thursday. Chrona is a thin memory foam pillow that sits on top of your regular pillow and tracks your sleep with a built-in accelerometer. The pillow wirelessly syncs with your smartphone via an app. Its creators are looking to raise $50,000 through Kickstarter.
The most interesting aspect of the pillow is its speaker system. Yes, this pillow has speakers, and they're actually supposed to help you get better-quality rest. They emit "slow, low-frequency noises that are relaxing," Chrona's co-founder and vice president, Ben Bronsther, told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. These low-frequency sounds are intended to lull you into a deeper sleep.
There has been some research showing that slow, low-frequency sounds may be good for sleep. Chrona is in the process of completing its own study on the effects of low-frequency sounds on sleep, funded by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Before the pillow went into production, Chrona also surveyed over 1,000 people about what they wanted from such a product, and found that they wanted to get as much sleep as possible without waking up groggy. In other words, respondents said they don't want to be woken up before they have to be awake.
This is where so-called "smart alarm" clocks and apps fall short, according to Bronsther. Many smart alarms are designed to rouse you when you're at your lightest sleep state; but in doing so they may wake you up way before your alarm is set to go off, robbing you of up to 45 minutes of precious sleep, Bronsther told HuffPost.
Thus, Chrona's speakers were also designed to help you transition back to consciousness in the morning. Fifteen to 20 minutes before your alarm time, the pillow will emit fast, high-frequency noises to move you into a lighter state of sleep, without necessarily waking you up. You'll still want an alarm for the final wake-up.
People who share a bed needn't worry about Chrona disrupting their partner's rest. "Even if your partner does not have Chrona and you have one, the sounds are so low in volume that they probably won't hear it," Bronsther said. But even if your bedmate's ears are particularly keen, the noises might help improve their sleep too, he added.
One of Chrona's current drawbacks is that your smartphone needs to be nearby in order for it to work, which means you have to keep your phone in your bedroom, which can be problematic for sleep. Chrona's working on changing that in later models, Bronsther told HuffPost. For now, you can keep your phone across the room so you're not tempted to look at it before bed or in the middle of the night.
Chrona's suggested retail price will be $170, but you'll be able to get early bird units from $80 to $120 through the Kickstarter.
"If you consider sleep to be a scarce resource, then this is absolutely the product for you," Bronsther said.