At the beginning of this year, Medgadget spoke with Colin Lawlor, CEO of SleepScore Labs about the company’s S+ non-contact sleep monitoring technology. Last month, we again heard from SleepScore Labs about their new SleepScore Max sleep monitoring system, an upgrade to the original S+.
Since then, Medgadget was able to give the SleepScore Max device a try for ourselves. Note that we also had a chance to try out the S+ technology earlier this year, and will be making some comparisons between the original and updated devices from SleepScore Labs.
Before and after trying out the technology, Medgadget again touched base with Colin from SleepScore Labs to learn more about the upgraded SleepScore Max and how things are going with the business. Our interview is shared below with the product review following.
Medgadget: The S+ technology was released less than a year ago. Is the new SleepScore Max the next generation S+ technology or a completely new device?
Colin Lawlor, CEO SleepScore Labs: SleepScore Max is based on the same core measurement technology that goes into the S+. Building on the foundation of the S+, all aspects are completely redesigned and improved from the ground up. This includes a completely new industrial design, a brand new app with a new interface, sleep history, new sleep guide, as well as goals, trends, and correlations to provide a new and improved experience, including personalized recommendations and solutions to enhance sleep.
Medgadget: What drove the development of this second offering from SleepScore Labs?
Lawlor: People are increasingly aware of the impact poor sleep has on overall quality of life. People loved the advice, however, we felt we could help. The development of SleepScore Max was driven by SleepScore Labs’ desire to provide consumers access to the most technologically advanced sleep improvement system and solutions.
Medgadget: What enhancements or new features can we look forward to in the new SleepScore Max technology? What feedback are you hearing from consumers or early adopters?
Lawlor: SleepScore Max is completely non-contact, there’s nothing to wear on your wrist or any strip to put under your mattress. That’s important since there is no point in keeping awake while trying to measure sleep. Second, it goes beyond just tracking to connect you with the most appropriate solutions to help you get the best sleep of your life. Finally, we have the largest collection of sleep data with more than 2.7 million nights of data. Data not only on sleep but also on things which effect it – like temperature, exercise, pillows, mattresses, etc. The more data we collect, the better personalized advice we can provide to users. We plan to regularly release new features and recommendations to help users improve their sleep.
Medgadget: Earlier this year SleepScore described its technology as a “clinical grade device.” Is the SleepScore Max also considered clinical grade? What progress has been made incorporating SleepScore’s technology into clinical use cases?
Lawlor: SleepScore Max isn’t a medical device, however the SleepScore by ResMed technology, which powers SleepScore Max, is extensively validated against Polysomnography (PSG) and Actigraphy — the two clinically accepted standards of measuring sleep, with results published in over 10 scientific, peer-reviewed papers. This development and testing has resulted in the sleep measurement capabilities of the SleepScore by ResMed technology being virtually equivalent to clinical grade devices in key dimensions.
Medgadget: SleepScore Labs is coming up on the completion of its first year of business. What are some important insights or lessons learned from this first year of business that will drive SleepScore’s technology and strategy moving forward?
Lawlor: If you want to change the world of sleep health, you need a team of the best. You need the world’s best experts, the world’s most accurate data, and the world’s best data science to learn from it, along with the world’s best partners and solutions. With Dr. Oz, ResMed, Pegasus Capital Advisors, our expert advisors, and most of all our team – I think we are finally at the starting point.
What’s In the Box?
The contents of the SleepScore Max box are cleanly organized with a sleek, streamlined aesthetic. Inside the box is one of each of the following:
- SleepScore Max device
- USB cable
- Power supply unit
- User manual
- Quick start guide
Everything that comes with the device can be easily repositioned back in the box for transportation or relocation. A couple first impressions were that the USB cable was nice and long, the reason for which shortly became apparent, and the device itself was darker in color and smaller in size than the original S+. The smaller profile and darker color were an improvement on the original S+ device as they allow the SleepScore Max to stand out less blatantly and become a more subtle fixture on the night table.
Setup & Usage
Setup of both the device and the software was straightforward following the four steps on the quick start guide: download the app, power up the device, pair the app to the device, and begin tracking.
Step one, downloading the app, is currently only done in the Apple App Store (this device is only compatible with iOS, though Android is stated to be coming soon). We used an iPhone 6S running iOS 11.1.1 and had no issues setting it up. After about a week of tracking sleep, the phone settings note that the app is currently using about 180 MB of storage space. Login can be done by either registering in the app or signing up through Facebook or Google.
After registering, users are walked through a combination of helpful hints and options, including the ability to link with other sources of health data through a HealthKit integration. Responding to questions organized into seven topics to create a personal profile is what took up the bulk of this process.
Conveniently, the app does give the user the ability to move on without completing the profile during this setup process and provides an estimated completion time for each of the seven subsections. For this testing, the seven sections were completed over two sessions with the app.
Step two, powering up the device, simply involves connecting the USB cable to both the power supply unit and the SleepScore Max device and plugging the two-pronged power supply into a standard wall socket. The device needs to be positioned on a solid surface at arm’s length from the sleep area, with the front face directed at the sleeping individual’s chest. Positioning the bottom of the device above the top level of the mattress is recommended for optimal capture of breathing rate.
A few observations at this point. First, compared to the original S+ device, the SleepScore Max face does not swivel vertically. When previously using the S+, it could be placed on a headboard table above the bed and angled down towards the sleeper. The SleepScore Max’s front face is fixed and therefore must be positioned on a table at the appropriate height to work. Since there was no night table in bedroom where this was tested, one had to be created to simulate the correct setup. Second, the long USB cable allowed the device to be plugged in behind the bed but placed adjacent to it. Finally, the original S+ and SleepScore Max share a three light array on the front to indicate if the device is paired, not paired, or out of range. A subtle improvement is that the LEDs shine a little less brightly on the new SleepScore Max, allowing the user to quickly identify the current connectivity without the LED being annoying.
Step three, pairing the app to the device, requires just a couple taps in the mobile app as long as the mobile device’s Bluetooth signal is active. As expected, once the device is paired, subsequent sleep sessions do not require re-pairing.
Step four, beginning of tracking, takes a little finesse the first time, but is easier in future sleep sessions. As with the S+, the SleepScore Max shows a visual trace of the motion signal within the mobile app. This allows the sleeper to ensure the device is actively capturing movement based on its position. Likely due to the rigid frame and the requirement of horizontal positioning adjacent to the sleeper, seeing movement with the SleepScore Max was a little more challenging than with the original S+. There was some concern that the signal would become stronger or weaker based on if the sleeper rolled closer to or farther from the device throughout the night, though no sleep sessions seemed to have any issues with this in practice. Once the device is positioned and the user taps the Start button on the mobile app, the screen darkens and tracking is initiated.
Some of this user’s favorite aspects of the S+ device were the pre-sleep features, such as the ability to record memos, document key aspects about the previous day related to sleep quality, such as alcohol consumption, and to listen to a variety of controlled tones to help in the process of falling asleep. While the demo version of the SleepScore Max mobile app did not include these features, the following response was provided by Colin when asked whether these features will be part of the official SleepScore Max mobile app:
“The pre-sleep questions are part of the launch version of the app — consumers will receive a nightly notification to fill in pre-sleep questions; but if they miss that, they can still go into the ‘Feed’ section of the app and will see the pre-sleep questions there – this is still a very important part of the process to support sleep improvement recommendations. It’s also important to fill in the profile questions during the initial setup, which will help us better understand the sleep environment and give the user an opportunity to set sleep goals most important to them. Also, everyone’s favorite feature, ‘relax to sleep’ is coming as an update along with additional new features a few weeks after launch.”
After waking up and completing a sleep session, a report on the quality of the previous night’s sleep is generated. The report includes an overall SleepScore, visualized hypnogram, and summary. The SleepScore, which goes up to a maximum of 100, is calculated based on subscores for sleep duration, time to fall asleep, light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, and wake time. Each subscore is weighted by how many total points it can achieve, with sleep duration representing the most heavily weighted category at 40 total points. The breakdown makes it very easy to quickly pinpoint the weakness of a poor SleepScore.
In addition to the SleepScore, a mind and body score are also reported. The hypnogram visualizes the four sleep states (deep, light, REM, and wake) on a timeline throughout the night. Both an overview and a granular breakdown provide a great deal of detail. If it’s clear that the user is awake too often during the night based on the SleepScore, the hypnogram allows the user to better understand when these bouts of wakefulness occur. Finally, the summary quantifies the hypnogram visualization with the specific duration, in hours and minutes, of each sleep state, as well as the total sleep length and how long it took to fall asleep. Light level and temperature are also documented in the summary.
The information and layout of the report are all significant upgrades to the original S+ mobile app. The flow from score to hypnogram to summary follows a logical progression breaking down the overall sleep experience into intuitive, digestible insights. The visualizations also received a facelift and are easier to interpret. A few areas that would benefit from improvement include details related to the mind and body scores and immediate feedback within the report. The former may be addressed in future versions of the mobile app, while the latter is arguably provided on the Sleep Guide screen, which serves as the home page each time a user logs into the mobile app. For example, if a user had a night of particularly poor light sleep, some information about light sleep is provided in the Sleep Guide, though this was not readily apparent until using the system for a couple days. As with all wearables and data trackers, despite providing the system a good deal of personal, specific information about the user, the feedback still felt somewhat generic based on broad sleep trends or deficiencies.
As a self identified poor sleeper, I enjoyed using the SleepScore Max device and found the overall interaction easy to understand and informative. Assuming a re-incorporation of the pre-sleep features, the experience is a definite improvement upon the company’s original offering and represents a conscious effort by SleepScore to better incorporate their systems into both the sleep environment and sleep experience. Having learned quite a bit about what comprises a good night’s sleep, I still use the SleepScore Max device today and continue to derive value from the detailed quantification of my personal sleep experience. That said, understanding the importance of deep sleep and that I need to be getting more of it is only the first step. I look forward to more personalized strategies that will help combat my specific sleep challenges.
Colin previously stated that SleepScore has, “data from 2 million nights across more than 35,000 subjects providing a steady stream of insight to continually refine our algorithms.” This comment highlights the fact that as SleepScore’s user base expands, the opportunity for even more personalized feedback can become a reality. Imagine a user documenting which strategies they are trying to use to improve specific aspects of their sleep quality. SleepScore can quantify the impact of those strategies on each type of sleep state and leverage those insights over a large enough pool of existing users to provide greater, yet more specific feedback to future users. Having experienced SleepScore’s system firsthand, twice, I am excited to see where the technology will go next!
- Easy to setup and use
- Aesthetically pleasing form factor
- Intuitively structured reports
- Detailed insights
- Helpful educational content
- Compatible only with iOS (Android coming soon)
- Limited details on “mind” and “body” scores
- Limited positioning options
- Sometimes more general feedback
Product page: SleepScore Max…
Flashbacks: S+, Setting a New Standard in Consumer and Clinical Sleep Technology: Interview with Colin Lawlor, CEO of SleepScore Labs; SleepScore Labs Releases Its Contact-Free Sleep Monitoring System