There’s a new sleep tracker on the market, and this one prides itself that it is not a wearable. Beddit is a Finnish company that is applying the not-widely-known technology of ballistocardiography to track a person’s breathing rhythm and sleep quality, among other features. With a little over a day left in its Indiegogo campaign, Beddit has already raised an impressive $400,000, or 5 times its (in retrospect) modest goal of $80,000. We had the opportunity to speak with Beddit’s Co-founder and CEO, Lasse Leppäkorpi, about the technology, its use cases, and why he believes Beddit will succeed where other sleep trackers have failed.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: How did the idea for Beddit come to be?
Lasse Leppäkorpi: I was a research scientist doing my postgraduate studies at the Helsinki University of Technology and my research subject was ballistocardiography (BCG). This is the underlying scientific method in all our products, apps and services. Beddit was a spin-off from this study. We were originally targeting to patient monitoring for hospital use and developed very accurate and reliable technology for measuring heart rate and respiration rhythm (vitals monitoring) with the sensors placed in hospital beds. Then we started to cooperate with one of the world-leading sleep scientists Prof. M.D. Markku Partinen (formerly president of world association of sleep medicine) who actually found us and saw the potential for our technology in sleep monitoring for at home use, especially for long term monitoring of sleep. We also started to work with one local luxury consumer bedding company who first introduced a smart bed product with our sensors integrated to their bed and our web application working as an interface for the consumers and for professionals like doctors, personal trainers, physiotherapists, researchers, etc. Then we developed our existing Beddit Pro stand-alone product that can be installed to any bed but still more directed for professional use. Now as the latest step we wanted to grow faster and enter the consumer market with this new affordable Beddit with mobile app including an integrated coaching engine (published at Indiegogo for pre-order). This will be launched (start shipping) in November.
Medgadget: What makes Beddit different from other sleep monitoring solutions?
Leppäkorpi: The user experience! The most important thing is that the user does not need to wear any sensors while sleeping (like with most of the sleep trackers) or sleep with the phone on the bed (like with sleep tracking apps using mobile device’s integrated sensors). We get more objective results as the measurement method itself does not disturb sleep. It is totally unnoticeable and automatic for the user. The user does not need to change or charge any batteries or do any manual data syncing etc. We also analyze the sleep comprehensively using sophisticated and proven algorithms. We don’t analyze only sleep but also more overall wellness like heart rate, stress and also sleeping environment like noise. We can also detect snoring and separate this from other noise. We also have this integrated coaching engine in the application that provides personalized coaching on what the user can try to do for better sleep, recovery, wellness and performance. Personalized coaching is based on the user profile and objective measurements and fine-tuned with the wellness diary and mood tracking.
Medgadget: Can you describe the technology underlying Beddit?
Leppäkorpi: The sensor in the bed is essentially a very sensitive force sensor. We use the method called ballistocardiography (BCG). This means measuring and analyzing the forces originating from body functions like cardiac contraction (heart beating) and chest wall movements (respiration). Of course we first analyze the forces originating from the whole body movements (restlessness and actigraphy), then we can further measure and analyze these heart beating and breathing functions when the person is not moving otherwise (sleeping or lying still). Accurate heart rate and respiration measurements are based on our sophisticated machine learning algorithms that adapt to the user. We take this even further using even more complex algorithms combining information about heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV), respiration rhythm and actigraphy to evaluate if the person is sleeping or awake and also assess the sleep quality. We add measurements using mobile device’s sensors like noise measurement and snoring analysis as well as ambient light measurement to add sleeping environment to the analysis. At the last stage we summarize this all into a single sleep score for the user with the detailed breakdown of results and also show the timeline of nightly events. The results are shown with the context and comparison to the recommendations and own goal. Then we add input from the user in user profile and wellness diary with daily mood tracking to fine-tune the personalized coaching.
Medgadget: Do you plan on seeking any regulatory approval or being used clinically?
Leppäkorpi: Not for this new consumer product and app. We want to keep this as a consumer’s personal wellness product for crowds. We already have requests that even as a consumer product there are medical professionals who are interested in using this product with their patients to mainly help their patients to increase awareness of their sleep and life-style (preventive aid) but not for diagnostics or for treatment. We do have a separate product on the market called Beddit Pro used by medical professionals and personal trainers etc. to provide sleep monitoring services for their clients. Consumers can also use this device and the related web app. For this device we have all the clinical studies done and data collected for medical approvals and further claims added soon but this is currently for European markets and we are not actively marketing this product in USA yet. We need to carefully focus our resources and see what the best timing is to get this also FDA approved and start marketing it in USA.
Medgadget: Why do you believe you’ll succeed where companies like Zeo didn’t?
Leppäkorpi: With Zeo the main issue was the inconvenient way of doing the measurement. It is not comfortable to sleep with a headband pressing your head and leaving red marks to your forehead that you hoped would disappear by noon. With this type of product it is quite difficult to jump over the gap between enthusiastic early adapters like QS biohackers and top athletes etc. and reach the crowds. We obviously have overcome this issue and offer a great user experience. I also think that we have better timing and the market is ready for Beddit. The whole personal health and wellness market with all the wearable activity trackers and different kind of sensors and smart watches is now booming and Zeo did their part in opening the market and increasing the awareness of the importance of sleep. Exercising and nutrition are too emphasized as compared to the third element; sleep and recovery. People are now starting to understand that without proper recovery exercising does not have any performance improving effect and without proper sleep the correct nutrition is not helping too much as our metabolism and the extraction of the hormones regulating the appetite are strongly affected by the sleep. I also think that despite the hard science behind the Beddit we can provide an entertaining and engaging app with also the social sharing aspect. Managing one’s own sleep, wellness and stress does not need to be inconvenient or boring.