We spend around one-third of our life sleeping, and as we all know, the quality of our sleep directly affects how we feel and function the following day. Those of us looking for a better night’s sleep often start by searching for a “better” pillow, but what does that mean? We have all heard companies claim to have the most comfortable pillow, but how many of us have heard of a smart pillow to help improve our sleep quality? Enter ZEEQ by REM-Fit, based in Wheeling, Illinois, whose smart pillow, ZEEQ, is packed with a set of interesting smart features, including sleep tracking, snore alarm, and audio streaming, all designed to enhance our night’s sleep. In fact, the people behind ZEEQ dubbed it, “The world’s smartest pillow.” We at Medgadget were given the opportunity to test ZEEQ over several weeks to see if smarter pillows make for better pillows after all.
Design and Comfort
ZEEQ looks just like a regular pillow from the outside, with a small remote attached to one side. It is slightly heavier than a traditional pillow, weighing around seven pounds, due to the various electric components housed within the pillow. ZEEQ has a smooth foam outer layer and is filled with shredded foam inside, which makes it slightly lumpy. However, the pillow is actually quite comfortable, and I was very pleased that I could not feel any of the multiple electronic components buried inside the pillow. The pillow arrives on the firmer side, but one can easily change the pillow height and density by taking out or redistributing the shredded foam filling based on user preference. Also, ZEEQ comes with an extra bag of shredded foam to add as needed, which I actually used to reinforce the pillow after several weeks of use.
In general, the pillow appears to be made of high-quality materials with excellent attention to details. It has a washable, hypoallergenic and temperature regulated pillowcase that keeps the pillow cool and comfortable. Also included is a plain white, polyester pillowcase with a pocket stitched in for the remote. However, I was not the biggest fan of the fabric, as I found it quite noisy whenever I rolled over, and I replaced it with my regular cotton pillowcase after a few days. The pillow’s battery holds a charge for about two weeks, and it is easily recharged with the provided USB cable.
Smartphone Application and Set-up
To start using ZEEQ, you first have to download the free ZEEQ app on your iOS or Android smartphone. After entering your demographics into the app, you connect the pillow to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Initially, I was unable to get my app to track my sleep due to connectivity issues. However, the technical support team at REM-Fit were readily available and very helpful. They gave me clear instructions on how to correctly connect my phone, which solved this problem. Since then, I have not had any major connectivity issues.
To get ZEEQ to start tracking your sleep, you can open your app before you go to bed and hit the start sleep button, or if you do not wish to use your phone before bed, you have two other options. You can either use the Auto Sleep setting, where you select a four-hour window where ZEEQ will start your sleep session automatically as long as you get into bed during this selected time frame. Or, you can use the small remote attached to the pillow to start your sleep session by hitting the start/stop button 5 times. If you opt to use the app on your smartphone to start your sleep session, an optional quick survey asking about different aspects of your day that could affect your sleep is available to answer, which may give users insight into what lifestyle choices may be affecting their sleep. I did find the app to run a little slow at times, but overall, it was straightforward and easy to use.
Regardless of how you start you sleep session, you always need to hit the stop sleep button on your app as soon as you get up the next day. Upon ending your sleep session, the pillow transfers the collected overnight data to your smartphone for analysis. The ZEEQ app then provides you with a numeric sleep score on how well you slept, your average snoring level, and multiple graphs that illustrate your movements and when and how loudly you snored overnight.
What sets ZEEQ apart from your traditional pillow is its compilation of sensors and electrical components, which allows it to offer the user a wide variety of features. Below I will discuss each of ZEEQ’s smart features in detail.
One of the most advertised features of ZEEQ is its ability to track and help you stop snoring. The pillow is equipped with a decibel-tuned microphone, which, theoretically, will continuously listen to you while you sleep to detect any snoring. Also, by activating the snore alarm, ZEEQ can take a more active role by gently vibrating to encourage you to change positions whenever your snoring reaches a preset level. The snore alarm does work in that it does push you to change your position. And, at least in my experience, a gentle vibration of your pillow is likely preferred to your sleeping partner having to elbow you to stop snoring.
As I explained earlier, on your ZEEQ app you can see your average snoring score of the night, the highest snoring (sound) decibel you reached, and when you supposedly snored. However, the concern I have with the snore monitor/alarm was that ZEEQ’s indicated snoring episodes often coincide with when I first go to bed, turn around while sleeping, or if my wife got up during the night, suggesting it is detecting all sounds as snoring. This became a bigger issue for me when I increased my snore alarm sensitivity, and the pillow would start vibrating every time I changed my sleeping position. Thus, I believe ZEEQ is currently unable to sort out the source of a sound and distinguish between you actually snoring or your cat meowing in the middle of the night. I wish it would record the detected “snoring” so that you could listen to it and verify if it was snoring or some other noise that might be compromising your sleep.
Motion Monitor and Partner-friendly Alarm:
The pillow has a gyroscope to track your movement throughout the night, and ZEEQ will give you a numeric sleep score based on how well you slept. However, I question the accuracy of the sleep score, as my score seemed to be fixed around 90 even on nights when I felt I did not sleep well. It is unclear what parameters are utilized to determine the sleep score, but it seems somewhat limited compared to other sleep tracking devices.
ZEEQ offers a smart, partner-friendly alarm, where the pillow will wake you up during your lightest sleep stage using vibration only. This feature is helpful if you do not want to wake your partner with your alarm. The vibration is definitely strong enough to wake you up and it does make a little bit of noise, but my wife reports that she never heard or woke up to it.
Eight wireless speakers are carefully positioned inside the pillow. These speakers can be utilized to listen to your choice of music or an audiobook while you fall asleep. It is easy to stream your audio selection through simply clicking on the music tab in the ZEEQ drop-down menu. You have the choice to listen to iTunes, Spotify, or select another audio source. The positioning of the speakers and the sound quality allows you to hear your audio clearly while your sleep partner hardly hears a thing. You can control the volume level and skip songs using the pillow remote, and you can set a music timer to stop your audio, so it does not play all night long.
Smart Home Compatibility:
ZEEQ is also compatible with other smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo, which is an interesting feature. Unfortunately, I was not able to test this feature since I do not own any smart home devices.
Transforming a pillow into a smart one is not an easy feat. REM-Fit’s ZEEQ succeeded in offering several exciting smart features to improve one’s sleep quality. However, there is room for improvement when it comes to its snore monitor/alarm and app speed. So, does a smart pillow really make for a better pillow? I think it comes down to whether or not you feel like you would benefit from all of the smart features ZEEQ offers. ZEEQ is ideal for those with a history of snoring and who enjoy listening to audio while falling asleep. It is a comfortable pillow, but comfort alone may not justify its $200 price tag.