By July 3, 2015 Read More →

Sleep-monitoring sheets are another Internet of Things advance

A printed circuit board integrated into a sheet can monitor sleep quality. It’s also part of the Internet of Things. Dreamtime

A printed circuit board integrated into a sheet can monitor sleep quality. It’s also part of the Internet of Things. Dreamtime

Recently, we reported on Luna, smart bed sheets that slip over a mattress. These are fitted with sensors to monitor a sleeping person’s health and provide extra comfort. Now there are others, one such fitted with a motherboard and wireless connection to the ‘Net. No, we haven’t suddenly become interested in your sleep patterns, but this is another manifestation of the fast growing ‘Internet of Things’, which will change your lives. James Hunt reports:

A Mexican researcher, Paulino Vacas Jacques, has designed an electronics motherboard or card that makes bed-sheets smart enough to measure sleep quality and duration.
In order to share the sleep data so obtained, the card contains a radio transmitter that can send data directly to involved doctors. This will help those suffering from sleep disorders and depressions – a very common problem – to be properly understood and treated.

Vacas Jacques believes that this technology could have many applications, including in healthcare and sports. In any case, this is the Internet of Things (IoT) made manifest.

The IoT is essentially millions of devices being made ‘smart’, often in vary simple ways like an embedded chip, and able to communicate wirelessly or over the Internet to other so-enabled devices. Now, this already fast increasing ‘connectedness’ (it’s estimated that there will be around 20 billion such devices by 2020) is already being taken a lot further.

Ultimately, nearly every device and many objects will be made ‘intelligent’ and able to communicate to a vast universe of other devices and objects. They will ‘talk’ to each other and inform individuals, businesses, health professionals, trades, leisure, government departments and policy-makers.

There will be downsides that will need addressing, but the benefits will be huge and epoch-making for many, including electrical contractors and installers, for although vast numbers of IoT devices will be sold through retailers and on-line, and will be fitted or enabled by householders, many will need careful fitting and commissioning by professionals.

Other examples

There are other examples along similar lines already. Beddit’s Sleep Tracker is based on ballistocardiography (BCG). During the night, an ultra-thin force sensor measures a sleeper’s nighttime activity – unobtrusively, without any wearable sensors. An extremely sensitive force sensor measures mechanical forces caused by heartbeat, respiration and movements of the person in bed. Using these three signals, it is possible to analyse that person’s sleep time and quality.

Since the Beddit system uses both the force sensor and the microphone of the user’s mobile device, it recognises the sleeper’s own snoring from his or her partner’s snoring. Note the use of the mobile device or smartphone, and in-built connectivity, making this again an IoT device.

Another is Luna, designed to slip right over the mattress, much like a fitted sheet. It integrates Wi-Fi, a microphone and an array of sensors to monitor temperature, breathing and heart rate, as well as ambient light and humidity. Information collected by the mattress cover is presented through a smartphone app, which then offers insights into how well the user is sleeping at night.

Then there are further examples, such as Google Nest smart thermostats and alarms. Major electrical wholesaler Rexel now has the exclusive UK rights to supply Nest Labs’ Wi-Fi Nest Protect and Learning Thermostat products through WF Senate.

Nest Protect is an advanced smoke and CO alarm, which provides spoken alerts on what and where the problem is. Communicating with other alarms in the system, even when Wi-Fi is unavailable, Nest Protect will also automatically send a message to Nest Thermostat to turn off the boiler, should it sense any CO.

By using a special combination of sensors and algorithms, the Nest Learning Thermostat creates a personalised temperature schedule, which eliminates the need for a separate programmer. Adapting immediately, the device creates a custom temperature, which will automatically turn down when the thermostat senses that the house is empty, dramatically saving energy.

Featuring a free application called Nest app, users can easily retrieve information and control all Nest products whilst on the move – should they want to – from any smart phone or tablet.
Voltimum UK is already looking closely at all relevant aspects of the IoT and what it will mean for all of us – keep your eyes peeled for more….

…and to read more about Luna, WF and Google Nest products, plus Voltimum’s Internet of Things area, please use the three links below.


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