A few weeks ago we had an opportunity to review the new Nightingale smart home sleep system from Cambridge Sound Management, a Massachusetts firm. At its core it’s a sound and noise generator that works to distract your brain from the environmental sounds coming from all around you. Similar devices have existed in the past, but the Nightingale brings the technology into the age of digital wellness, home automation, and personalization, plus the proprietary “sound blankets” developed by Cambridge Sound Management are backed up by some serious research.
The research the company points to was conducted by the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and has shown that the Nightingale “reduced sleep onset latency by 38% compared to normal environmental noise in a group of healthy subjects.” This is pretty impressive, but we’d like to see a study involving more than eight subjects and it would be helpful to know whether the technology can help people with certain sleep disorders. Our review focuses on the design, usability, and overall experience with the Nightingale.
Nightingale’s two sound generating devices are clean and stylish. They fit into a standard double socket wall outlet nice and snug, without any wobbling. The sockets are also reproduced on the front of each device, so you can still use any existing devices that you may have had plugged into the outlet. The perimeter of each unit features LED illumination, so you can also use it as a night light or to give your bedroom a bit of a romantic mood. The only other thing that the units feature is the reset button on the side, but hopefully you won’t need to use it.
The Nightingale, of course, comes with its own app that’s used to control which sounds to produce, set a schedule, manipulate the lights, and make it a part of your smart connected home. The app is fairly well designed, but the multitude of options and selections can be a bit overwhelming. Not to say that it’s hard to use, but at first it may seem intimidating when all you want is to hear what kinds of sounds it can make.
It’s best to have the devices plugged in on the sides of your bed, but the company claims the Nightingale should perform just fine even when other objects are in the way, as the produced sounds will still be able to permeate the room. In our testing we had the outlets perfectly positioned to the left and right of the bed.
After plugging in the devices and installing the app, we had no problem connecting them to Bluetooth initially, but did experience disconnections at later times. Connecting to the home’s WiFi proved a lot more difficult. It took us about half a dozen tries before the two devices finally established a WiFi connection. To note, Cambridge Sound Management recently released a firmware update to the system that they say should resolve these issues. It’s also important to note that WiFi connectivity is only necessary to program the system, remotely control it, and tie it to Amazon’s Alexa and other services. Additionally, the Nightingale works with IFTTT, allowing it to be easily tied to other services and devices.
We spent a couple weeks sleeping with and without having the Nightingale working and tried a number of the sound options. There are a few nature sounds, such as a lake with chirping crickets, but more interesting and intriguing are noise-like sound blankets that create a drastically different sound environment. While some, such as the tinnitus sound blanket, are sharp and penetrating, others seem to somehow deaden the room, making it seem strangely quieter. While we only had a couple of people trying the system, the sound blankets seemed to have a slightly different effect on each one of us, so there’s a potential for a couple’s disagreement here!
The lights can be programmed to come on and go off on a schedule, and their intensity and color choices of white, green, red, and blue are pretty neat.
Overall, the Nightingale was easy to use, and we got acquainted with the app pretty quickly. We would have hoped to have a greater variety of environmental sounds to choose from and to have an option of combining them to create one’s own unique audio environment.
Once we were able to pick the sound options we were comfortable sleeping with and that quieted the surrounding environment, sleeping with the system became unnoticeable. We enjoyed how, once it was programmed to our favorite settings, we did not have to deal with the system any longer.
The lights would come on around dusk and go off around the time we go to bed, and then the sound would come on and turn off around wake up time. We became comfortable with the Nightingale and have been happy to use it over the past few weeks. As such, we’d recommend it for people trying to find something new and interesting that may help with their sleep.
It’s a bit expensive at $299 for the set, but it’s an intriguing and pretty high-tech system that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Here’s a promo video for the Nightingale from Cambridge Sound Management:
Product page: Nightingale…