AI lullabies, sensor sheets: The future of sleep is here - Hindustan Times
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AI lullabies, sensor sheets: The future of sleep is here

ByNatasha Rego
Apr 23, 2022 01:05 PM IST

Could artificial intelligence have the answers to our disrupted sleep? New tech is using AI, sensors and sound in attempts to monitor and guide sleep.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, or at least we’re supposed to. But as stress levels rise and screens shine on for longer, sleep cycles are breaking, faltering, and changing. Technology, a primary antagonist in this tale, is now also being seen as an antidote. After the pillow menus, white noise machines and sleep apps, new technologies are using artificial intelligence, sensors and sound in attempts to monitor and guide sleep.

Who’s listening as you sleep? A still from Howl’s Moving Castle. (Studio Ghibli) PREMIUM
Who’s listening as you sleep? A still from Howl’s Moving Castle. (Studio Ghibli)

Hush little baby

AI Lullaby by German software company Endel uses patented artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create soundscapes that aim to reduce stress and improve sleep. The sounds vary based on data points linked to each user, and feature original music and vocalisation by Canadian musician Grimes, who worked on the app after the birth of her first child, X Æ A-Xii, because she wanted something creative to play as her baby slept.

The Endel soundscapes use the pentatonic scale (five notes per octave), which is considered to have soothing properties and is often heard in ancient intonations and chants.

Endel’s algorithm stitches the stems or sonic building blocks created by Grimes (in which she is humming) together with the soundscapes. Which elements appear and how the sounds change, the company says, are decided by the AI program based on data about the user’s location, weather, temperature, time of day, as well as aspects such as heart rate (if the app has been paired with a remote-health-monitoring one).

The collaboration with Grimes is the first in a series planned with other artists.

Available on the Endel app; free sample available on ailullaby.endel.io

Sensor-ed

As the user sleeps on it, the Dozee sensor sheet, a flat mat inserted under a mattress in the area of the user’s chest, collects data on cardiac and respiratory activity and body movement from major and micro vibrations in the mattress. It then uses this data to estimate oxygen saturation, sleep stages and stress recovery. As with the more advanced remote-health-monitoring apps, Dozee analyses user data to arrive at customised thresholds rather than using generic averages. The device was developed by Indian health technology start-up Turtle Shell.

Available on Amazon for 7,499

Sounds about right

SleepHub is a bedside sleeping aid developed by the research company Cambridge Sleep Sciences. It uses patented sound technology to mirror brain waves during sleep. It does this through the use of binaural tones broadcast via two speakers (binaural tones are a third sound created as two tones, of different frequencies, each enter a different ear).

Repeated use is key, say the makers. It can help the brain return to a healthy sleeping pattern, which may have been forgotten owing to a stressful lifestyle.

At the base are simple, soothing sounds that draw on trains, wind, ocean waves, rain, white noise and pink noise. SleepHub underpins these with monaural and binaural beats in very low frequencies, the soundscape changing at different stages of the sleep cycle.

The device has four modes; an eight-hour soundtrack for deep sleep; easy sleep, for a reduced night period; a mode to help one fall asleep; and a power nap mode of different brief durations.

Available at sleephub.com for £479 (about 47,000)

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