Apple's next move in health monitoring and improvement may be sleep monitoring hardware

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple is interested in improving its Beddit product line and helping its customers get healthier by sleeping better at night by monitoring their movements throughout their slumber, but without the bulk of existing medical monitoring systems, by considering the use of piezo sensors laid on top of a bed.

The Beddit 3 sleep-tracking sensor strip
The Beddit 3 sleep-tracking sensor strip


Apple is known for offering wellness-related features in its products, but the vast majority are meant for use while the user is awake and active, such as with the Apple Watch or the iPhone's Health app. Outside of limited sleep tracking through Apple's Bedtime function for iOS, there is little Apple itself actually offers to users for tracking during sleep.

Apple does own the sleep tracking company Beddit, acquired last year, which does offer a band that lies on top of the bed for monitoring a number of elements, such as heart rate, respiration, room temperature, and time spent sleeping. Even so, it appears the existing system can be improved according to one recently-filed patent application.

Filed on May 22 and published November 22, the application for a "multi-element piezo sensor for in-bed physiological measurements" aims to go further by keeping track of the user's movements throughout a sleep cycle. While other sensors could be used to monitor other elements, the core of the idea is the use of a piezo film on the bed's surface, which can be used to measure the person's contact points with the bed and, using multiple film layers, pressure exerted.

Examples of thin strip and full-bed versions of Apple's sleep sensor
Examples of thin strip and full-bed versions of Apple's sleep sensor


Two versions of the idea are offered, with the first mimicking the Beddit sensor, in being a thin strip that crosses the bed roughly where the chest of the user is positioned.

A second involves a larger array of sensors that covers the entire bed in a grid, with sensors divided up into separate cells. While larger overall, the larger number of monitored sections can allow for other elements to be sensed, such as the way the body lies on the bed, and if there are any particularly heavy spots where there is more pressure on the bed than typical.

According to the filing, the piezo film could be corrugated to have "peaks and valleys" to create localized regions that are more sensitive to force. The disturbances of these areas, namely the flattening or compressing of each fold, could offer more data than a flatter film layer.

It is unclear if the patent was influenced by Apple's ownership of Beddit, but the chest-height sensor concept is already employed in the Beddit 3 sensor system. It is unknown if that particular product already uses a piezo film, but an addition of the element may offer more data for the iOS companion app to work from.

This is not the only patent or application Apple has made in relation to sleep tracking, One patent granted in June and refined in a separate application in November describes how the use of devices could force an alarm system to change when it rings, to allow users a full night's sleep.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,461member
    For most of us, exercising, an improved diet, not eating before bed, and not having electronics flashing their lights and sounds in our bedroom will resolve the vast majority of sleep-related issues, but I love hard data and there are always the outliers, so bring it on, Apple.

    I even removed the last remaining light from my bedroom by replacing the digital alarm clock with an Echo Dot. Sure, the Dot has lights on it, but they only light up when you activate it.

    PS: Until Apple comes out with a solution I prefer this app for my Watch to monitor my sleep quality and habits.

    edited November 2018 StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    I may be stating the obvious here...but for good mental health, a good night's sleep is imperative.

    Then diet, then exercise, where exercise helps to sleep better! :) 

    I applaud Apple for their emphasis on health and fitness. My daughter's a doctor and she says 95% of the patients are in her hospital are there b/c of bad life-style choices, essentially from a horrendous diet!

    Anyway on that lovely note...Happy Thanksgiving everyone. :)

    Best.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,461member
    I may be stating the obvious here...but for good mental health, a good night's sleep is imperative.
    Just imagine the people that have to sleep on the street, in a car, or are just in a very chaotic household. If you can't get a decent night's sleep then having a productive day is going to considerably more difficult. I assume that has to be a very difficult cycle to break. I think we all can really how bad we can feel physically, our worsen mood, and our lowered cognitive abilities after even a single night of not sleeping or sleeping well.
    edited November 2018 bonobobauxiochasmchristopher126
  • Reply 4 of 12
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,555member
    No television, and no reading at least half an hour before bed. Does the trick for me.

    Oh, and skipping that slab of cheese before turning in also helps.
    anton zuykov
  • Reply 5 of 12
    GabyGaby Posts: 41member
    They recently asked me for specific feedback as related to potential sleep tracking features that I would find useful, so it seems they are starting to focus quite deeply now in this area which I’m glad about, and frankly it’s about time too!
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrachasmpatchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 12
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,949member
    Soli said:
    I may be stating the obvious here...but for good mental health, a good night's sleep is imperative.
    Just imagine the people that have to sleep on the street, in a car, or are just in a very chaotic household. If you can't get a decent night's sleep then having a productive day is going to considerably more difficult. I assume that has to be a very difficult cycle to break.
    <sarcasm>But isn't it poor life choices which led them there in the first place?</sarcasm>

    Trying to get people to think a bit more deeply (or care) aside, I am very interested in this area of technology.  It'll be interesting to see what sorts of changes one can make once they get the data about how they sleep.
    Soliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    This project might be best when it is used to generate data you can take to your Doctor, or a trained Sleep Doctor. Restless Sleep Syndrome (RLS) will be one area that Apple's program captures for medical reviews.  Untreated Sleep Apnea is another issue that is going to impact the data, probably in a big way.  I can easily see Apple running trials in multiple sleep centers to generate comparative data that can be used in FDA reviews.  In that case Sleep Apnea and RLS will be the two areas impacting the most.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    Really, it's an overkill. I use AutoSleep and wear my watch overnight and it is more than enough to monitor how well you sleep. Monitoring the movements and heart rate together are much better predictors and way more cost effective than any other methods. More than that, you're wasting money and asking for smoething that you don't really need. I had Beddit and while it was helpful, it was purely psychological and ignores the obvious fact that your heart rate often concides with your breathing pattern. If your heart rate is high, it is likely that it means you're not getting enough oxygen which is also a sign you're likely having apnea. Or it may be that you have arrythmia. Also, when you're moving a lot, your watch picks it up. It's ultra sensitve and will know. And the more you move, the less sound your sleep will be. AI will pick it up and know what conditions you are likely to have and can be verified with doctors.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Not sure I want my wife checking the bed activity while she’s at work.
    lostkiwijony0
  • Reply 10 of 12
    We typically think of sleep as (merely) a way to "rest" a tired mind and body and, if we don't get enough then we are tired the next day.  And, while that is true, it is insufficient:   Sleep is as necessary for life as is food and drink.  In fact, sleep deprivation has been used to torture prisoners and weaken them.

    So, sleep is not only important, it is vital.

    But I can see where this technology could have an equally valuable benefit:   Bed Sore prevention.   Anybody who has seen a stage 4 bed sore is not likely to forget it:  a hole big enough and deep enough to see bone -- and it hardly ever heals.  VERY nasty.   Bed sores are generally formed when unrelieved pressure between a surface and a bone squeezes the blood out of the tissue between it and the bone -- causing that tissue to die.  And a stage 1 can form in less than an hour.

    Nurses are trained to change a debilitated patient's position at regular intervals to prevent bed sores.

    But the article points out the technology can detect:  "...if there are any particularly heavy spots where there is more pressure on the bed than typical."

    That leads me to believe that this technology could be used to detect potential bedsores before they form -- which would be a great aid to hospitals, nursing facilities and even home based caregivers of weak, debilitated patients.

    Go for it Apple!

    watto_cobrachristopher126patchythepiratejony0
  • Reply 11 of 12
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,226member
    I'd sleep better if AAPL hadn't just lost 50 points.
    GeorgeBMac
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