The latest attempt to use technology to improve our health takes the form of a bean-shaped pillow-like robot.
Named Somnox, the Kickstarter gadget was designed as a safer alternative to fighting insomnia than taking potentially addictive medication. The soft, lima-bean-shaped robot contains a mechanism that simulates breathing patterns and helps people slow theirs. With its slow and steady motion and soothing sound effects, Somnox was born to make people relax and fall asleep. All the user needs to do is put the cuddly creation up against their body as if they were holding a stuffed animal, and voilà, instant REM.
So how does it work, and will it actually help you sleep? Well, its creators claim people who hold the nylon robot against their bodies will start to sync their breathing to its motions. With slower breathing patterns and soothing sound effects, people will supposedly start feeling comfortable and relaxed. It also purports to help sleepers wake up more naturally with gentle motions and sounds and offers a 30-day guarantee. According to the startup, 90 percent of the 80 test sleepers who used the product fell asleep faster, 70 percent said they slept better, and 60 percent reported feeling more energized.
If those numbers hold true, Somnox could be a safe solution to a severe disorder. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates 30 to 35 percent of U.S. adults suffer from some form of insomnia. An eye-opening 10 percent of Americans have a chronic form of the disorder and 4 percent use prescribed sleep aids, which frequently come with a list of troubling side effects. An Oxford study found that insomnia costs Americans $63 billion in lost productivity each year. The need for a solution is made clear by the success of Somnox’s Kickstarter campaign, which, after just 10 days, has raised more than $150,000 from 342 backers.
Unfortunately, this robotic pillow isn’t cheap. The least expensive Kickstarter option today is a “Black Friday” special at 400 euros, or about $477. That’s a ton of money for a pillow that doesn’t have any reviews or testimonials aside from those posted on its own campaign page. It is, however, less expensive than the bougiest pillow I could find: a $10,233 king-sized pillow made of Grade A Iceland Eiderdown—so there’s that.
That said, if it does work, you can’t put a price on a good night’s rest.