Hello is a San Francisco-based collective that recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Sense, a $99 smart sleep system. Sense consists of three parts: a spherical alarm that sits on your nightstand, a disc-shaped movement-tracker that you stick to your pillowcase, and an app for both Android and iOS devices.
The acoustic mesh-wrapped sphere comes in either cotton (white) or charcoal (dark gray). It can play white noise or other restful sounds to lull you to sleep and sound an alarm when it's time to wake up in the morning. Thanks to its minimalist, button-free design, the alarm is supposed to turn off with a simple hand wave.
The alarm has another intriguing feature -- it's adaptive. If you set your alarm to 7:30 a.m., but Sense senses that you're waking up naturally around 7:15 am instead, it might go ahead and turn on the alarm. It may seem counterintuitive, but Hello thinks it would be better to wake you up when you're already half awake rather than letting you (potentially) fall back into a deeper sleep and risk feeling groggier at your regular 7:30 a.m. wake-up time.
In addition to functioning as a sleep machine and alarm, the Sense sphere also has several built-in environmental sensors. That means that it can keep an eye on ambient light, temperature, humidity, sound, and particulates like dust and pollen in your bedroom. Then, it can use that information to help you better understand the reason behind any sleep disturbances.
Hello calls its movement trackers Sleep Pills. These small accelerometer-and-gyroscope discs are designed to be attached to pillowcases to track movement throughout the night. I'm not sure how well a Sleep Pill would stack up against a particularly restless sleeper, but Hello says they are are pretty tough; they're even waterproof in case they take any accidental trips to the washer.
The Sense app lets you review the quality of your sleep from the previous night by assigning a score on a 100-point scale. Basically, it gathers all of the data collected by the Sense sphere and Sleep Pill and uses it to inform you about your sleep patterns. If the bedroom temperature was particularly high and you had more trouble sleeping than usual, that information should be relayed to the app. If the noise sensor picked up on a sound disturbance at 2 a.m., you should be able to listen to a recording to find out if it was a car backfiring or your partner's snoring (I foresee potential arguments with this feature).
Hello hopes its Sense sleep system will be viewed as a welcome alternative to wearables like Fitbit or Jawbone -- or apps like the $1 Sleep Cycle, which require you to sleep with your phone in the bed. Hello's more minimalist approach doesn't shy away from tech -- it relies heavily on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth -- but it wants overt tech, like bright screens to take a backseat in the bedroom, where relaxation is key.
Sense has secured more than $150,000 as of this writing, far exceeding its original $100,000 goal. A pledge of at least $99 (that's roughly the equivalent of £58/AU$105) will get you a Sense sphere and one Sleep Pill; an additional $15 charge will apply for shipping outside the United States. There are still 29 days remaining on the campaign, so get one soon if you're interested -- Sense preorder prices will increase to $129 once the Kickstarter funding period ends.