Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Sleep-tracking gadgets can help people discover and address needs not served by doctors, says Jo Sollet, a faculty member and researcher in Harvard Medical School’s sleep medicine division and an advisor to Lark, a company that makes a sleep-tracking wristband sold in Apple stores. “Our ordinary health-care system isn’t aware of our sleep needs. These devices allow people to collect information that can help them improve sleep and also educate their doctors.”

The fact that Bam Labs’s device can detect sleep apnea—a temporary cessation in breathing—is one good example, says Sollet. “Apnea is extremely hard to detect because the symptoms reported to the doctor are nonspecific, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and fatigue,” she says.

However, Sollet notes, sleeping with a partner or sharing a bed with pets or children could confuse the sensor.

If the technology appears in more medical settings, such as hospitals, Sollet says, the staff will likely appreciate its being safely hidden away under the mattress. Conventional sensors in hospitals that attach to a patient often become dislodged by medical staff, or by a patient’s movement, leading to false readings and false alarms, she explains. Most alarms—over 80 percent—from sensors in a typical intensive care unit are false alarms, says Sollet.

The Bam Labs design could also allow sophisticated monitoring of sleep and vital signs in natural settings that are currently off limits to medical staff—for example, after a person returns home from the hospital, Sollet says. “What’s nice is that it’s unobtrusive, and doesn’t medicalize a person. They can just sleep as normal, but still be monitored closely,” she says.

4 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Bam Labs

Tagged: Computing, Biomedicine, sleep apnea, monitoring systems, sensor-laden headband

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me