Kids/Babies Sleep

Monbaby is a wireless window into your wee one’s world

The Premise. Baby monitors haven’t changed much for decades, partially because they haven’t had to serve any other purposes. But what if a baby monitor could report on a child’s sleeping patterns and whether or not they were safe in their crib?

The Product. The Monbaby sleep analyzer is a small button that can be clipped onto any article of clothing and monitors how much a child is moving during sleep, whether or not they have woken up, and even if they’ve fallen. This data is sent to the companion iPhone app, which reports all of this information as well as whether a child has rolled onto their stomach or back, and can provide customizable alerts depending on certain variables. It can provide this data for users of any age, but in the early stages of the technology, it is being tailored specifically for newborn children.

The Pitch. Monbaby inventor Arturas Vaitaitis shares his inspiration behind the sleep analyzer and discusses his professional background, also asking for feedback on what else this tiny device could do. While every child will react differently, the baby in the video seems content enough, not even noticing the Monbaby clipped onto its clothes. The device has been featured at CES, the IWC Bluetooth competition, and won a prize at the Munich Wearable Technologies conference. Vaitaitis is looking for $10,000 to create an infrastructure that can store the data recorded by the sleep analyzer.

The Perks. Getting a Monbaby sleep analyzer button with the companion app takes a pledge of $79. Custom colored models are available in blue, pink, gray, and red for $169. The basic model will ship in October with the colored buttons arriving the following month.

The Potential. There’s a lot of untapped potential in the baby monitor market, and something like this could also provide valuable data for doctors to look at when considering a child’s development. Not only is it safe and non-intrusive for sleeping babies, but having one of these could even help parents get a little extra sleep themselves, and that alone would probably be reason enough to pick one up.

Connected Objects Sleep

DreamNet opens lucid dreaming to analysis, app variety, collective unconsciousness

The Premise. The idea of lucid dreaming — in which one is aware that one is dreaming and wakes to remember the tale — has been around for a long period of time. Up until recent years, however, it’s been the kind of thing that people have had to take on entirely themselves. For many, lucid dreaming is difficult enough as it is, and it can take years to learn even just the basics. As today’s technology is pushing just about every industry in the world in a new direction, it should stand to reason why lucid dreaming is heading in a new direction.

The Product. DreamNet offers a new way for people to embrace lucid dreaming. The sleep mask-like device is a programmable headband that allows users to create their very own personal lucid dreaming experience. When synced with a smartphone or tablet, the software associated with DreamNet takes a sophisticated approach. It lets you choose a specific point in your sleep schedule to trigger an alarm, which alerts you that you have entered into a dream. It utilizes an EEG to monitor brain waves, which you can even go back and analyze in the morning, Perhaps the most fascinating thing about DreamNet is that, true to the product’s name, it is trying to build a network of dreamers. that share data in order to create more effective analysis.

The Pitch. Synapse, the team behind DreamNet, has created an effective campaign for those who want the nitty-gritty on the headband’s components, choice of processor and software origins even if a lot of it reads like hard-to-follow inside baseball. Much praise is offered to researcher Bill Murphy, the narrator of the video.

The Perks. DreamNet has a unique pricing structure. For those who are willing to submit at least four of their sleep sessions to the company for research purposes, the product can be had for just $140. Otherwise, the entry point for DreamNet is $150 for early adopters, and is due to ship in June 2014.

The Potential. Lucid dreaming products are all over the place. The smartphone-optional Aurora, a similar product to DreamNet, raised more than double its funding goal on Kickstarter. What sets DreamNet aside from the competition, however, is that it offers a state-of-the-art way to not only trigger the headband’s alarm at a specific point in time, to track what’s going on when you sleep and to contribute ultimately to the state of lucid dreaming research.

Sensors/IoT Sleep

Aurora headband offers the sleep experience of your lucid dreams

The Premise: There’s been a lot of interest in lucid dreaming for many years, and technology has made it more approachable. The ability to control one’s dreams is certainly enticing, especially for those who are looking to learn more about themselves.

The Product. Aurora is just the latest in a string of devices meant specifically to make lucid dreaming easier and more accessible. The way in which the Aurora works is quite simple, really. As one begins to go into REM sleep, eye movements change rapidly. The device (a high-tech eye mask) is able to pick up on this, after which it emits customizable lights and sounds. In theory, once you experience this “reminder” that you are actually dreaming, you’ll be able to train yourself to control the results of the dream. The USB-rechargeable Aurora can communicate with your smartphone and can also time your wakeup so that you feel more relaxed, a premise of the Lark device that launched on Kickstarter last year.

The Pitch. The pitch video makes a very good case for what the product is capable of. A nice production value, a great explanation of what Aurora does and plenty of attractive imagery makes the product look quite enticing. Developer iWinks describes how the companion app maps a typical sleep cycle and introduces a stretch goal of $300,000 at which point Aurora’s algorithms will be baked into the mask itself, making the smartphone optional.

The Perks. The Aurora is due to appear with a pretty quick turnaround, scheduled for March 2014. At $175, it is quite a pricey device, although you can certainly find pricier alternatives. Most of the reward tiers from there include incentives for developer access.

The Potential. Given the low maintenance associated with the device, its perfect for those who ascribe to the “set it and forget it” ideals that come along with so many of today’s products,  That said, it’s difficult to avoid comparing the device to 2012’s Remee, another Kickstarter-funded sleep mask meant to help make lucid dreaming easier, and LUCI. Since the Remee is only $80, shelling out the extra $100 or so may be difficult for some folks, if not unnecessary.

Cell Phone Accessories Wearables

Look out, Google Glass. Vigo is here to outdork you

The Premise. Nerd alert! Did you ever want to be able to track your level of energy and have it recorded into an app and then use that data to plan your day? Probably not. But if you’ve ever nodded off or yawned at an inappropriate time, it might be helpful to get some early feedback on your advancing state of drowsiness.

The Product. An “energy monitor” for the human body, Vigo goes in your ear and extends to your eye. If you wear two at the same time you might look like Geordi La Forge from Star Trek. The Vigo measures the amount of times you blink and your head position, inputs the information into an algorithm, and then alerts you when you are getting drowsy. It can notify you in a number of ways, including an LED, vibration or a “pump up” song.

The Pitch. The Vigo video takes you through the story of its creation at UPenn by a trio of students who wanted to get a better grip on their consciousness and the campaign page goes into some interesting detail about information literally contained in the blink of an eye. The Vigo, which resembles a Bluetooth headset that’s undergone a growth spurt, looks just as awkward as the Google Glass, and you can’t even use it to watch porn.

The Perks. Vigo may not offer much of the functionality of Google Glass, but it stands to cost a lot less. After selling out an early bird special on Vigo for $59, backers can pick them up for $79, a discount from the $119 they’re expected to ship for when they’re available next May. But of course the real perk is having an awkward distraction over your temple that will break your fall once your sleeping head falls into your plate.

The Potential. Surely, there are professions where having a good handle on your level of alertness is critical — truck drivers, for one. But that job offers exactly the kind of solitary work environment where the Vigo wouldn’t be more distracting than a droopy eye or head jerk. Skip the headgear and just make sure you get an energy shot in time.