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Lark's silent alarm wakes you, not your bunkmate

Using mobile and sensor technology, one entrepreneur wants to help you sleep better with a "Silent Un-alarm Clock" that you wear on your wrist.


Alarm clocks are so primitive. At the appointed time, your device shrieks to life, rudely startling you awake--along with whoever is next to you.

Entrepreneur Julia Hu wants to bring modern sleep science into your bedroom with Lark, a vibrating, silent alarm buzzer you wear on your wrist. The device doesn't just buzz at the appropriate hour, though. It also beams data over Bluetooth to an iPhone app about how well you're sleeping, based on how much your arm moves. An Android version is coming soon.

The device will be sold in Apple stores starting June 14, and its available now on Lark's Web site for $129, plus an additional $60 to get the feature that shows you a seven-day personal sleep assessment based on the data the wristband collects. The sleep analysis is based on algorithms developed with the help of Harvard University sleep expert Dr. Jo Solet and professional sleep coach Cheri Mah.

"Sleep is the under-appreciated third pillar of health next to a healthy diet and regular exercise," Hu said.

In my own trial of the "Silent Un-alarm Clock" a few nights ago, Lark told me I got 6 hours and 28 minutes of sleep. It also said that it took me 32 minutes to go to sleep and that I woke up 5 times--none of which I remember. Yet apparently this level of nighttime activity is pretty good. It was worth an 8.9 out of 10 on the Lark scale of sleep efficiency.

In 2009, the sleep aid market was $25 billion, but it's expected to grow to $33 billion in the next three years: a large chunk of the market goes to pillows and mattress sales, followed by sleep laboratory costs, according to BCC Research. Half of all of the sleeping pills sold globally are sold in the United States, according to A Global Strategic Business Report.

Related links
• Zeo Personal Sleep Coach provides bedside brain-wave analysis
• Home gadget to study your sleep patterns
• All that tech is hurting your sleep, researchers say

Lark isn't the only company taking sleep research out of the lab and commercializing it, however. NYX Devices has developed the Somnus Sleep Shirt, a smart nightshirt that measures breathing patterns. NeuroVigil has iBrain, which provides at-home sleep monitoring for EEG data collection.

Lark seems easier to put on and use than both the NYX shirt and the NeuoVigil cap, and the price is right, too. If you're not getting a good night's sleep, the price and ease of use of this product might make it worthwhile to try before investing in more expensive, time-consuming, or potentially addictive alternative solutions.