Posted by Darrell Etherington (@drizzled) on techcrunch.com
At CES 2014, Withings was showing off the latest product in its lineup of home health tracking connected gadgets, the Aura. The Aura looks vaguely like a submarine’s periscope, but it lives on your nightstand, connects to a sensor pad that goes under your mattress, and provides super sophisticated sleep tracking along with intelligent wake up and sleep sequences to give you your best possible rest.
The Aura is a wake-up like, not unlike other products on the market from companies including Philips, but it uses light combined with sound to help trigger melatonin release, which the company says happens via scientifically sound processes. These are triggered variously to relax you at night, or wake you up in the morning, using different tones from the LED light in the nightstand component, which also doubles as an alarm clock and speaker.
The Aura connects to a pad of sensors via cable, providing power and collecting data from said attachment. This pad picks up “micromovements” according to Withings, which are far more subtle than the kind of tossing and turning detectable by most wrist- and pocket-borne activity trackers, including Withings’ own Pulse. The sensor can detect small movements from under a pillow-top or even a tempurpedic mattress (which are designed to minimize the effect of movement), and up to two can be used to monitor sleep patterns for two people in the same bed. It can detect not only movements, but also breathing cycles and heart rate to arrive at much more sophisticated conclusions about that nature and quality of your sleep. Using this data, it can help the Aura alarm unit start to wake you up more gently when it makes sense, rather than abruptly right at a specific time.
These can be used in combination with Withings’ existing suite of health products to provide a more complete picture through their smartphone app, the company says. It’s aiming to ship the Aura starting in spring, 2014 and the whole kit, including one sensor pad and one nightstand alarm/light will cost $299. That’s steep compared to the Philips wake-up light at $99, but Withings is essentially the first to combine that product with highly sophisticated sleep tracking. Still, you have to be very committed to the self-monitored health movement to make that leap, I’d imagine.