After spending your whole day tracking your activity with a smartwatch, it may not necessarily be on your mind to then also gain insights into your sleep. But as the industry has grown, big players such as Fitbit, Polar and Garmin have all begun to prioritise wellness and keeping an eye on your night hours. The end result is a fuller picture of your health, giving users the opportunity to look into how restful their sleep is and how it varies over time.
But it's not perfect. Many people, understandably, don't want to wear a wrist-based device after having it on all day, and many also don't provide you with enough battery life to give you a consistent tracking experience. That's why we've seen dedicated sleep tech startups like Circadia, Rythm and more come to prominence.
Read this: Best sleep trackers and monitors
Now, another company, Circa, is entering the space, looking to bring users sleep tracking smarts from a connected smart alarm clock — one that's currently available to back on Kickstarter from €179 ahead of expected shipping next June. The mission? Keeping you away from the distraction of your smartphone, while replacing any tracking hardware with a sleep sensor placed under your mattress that detects movement and respiration.
"The idea behind Circa is, essentially, that most people use their smartphone as their alarm clock and this usually means you're browsing Facebook and Twitter at night and in the morning, which is not very good for your sleep. So we wanted to make an alternative, an alarm clock that gives you everything you're used to, doesn't distract and also removes some of the privacy concerns by not involving microphones," says Daan Weijers, one of Circa's designers.
"A lot of people currently use sleep cycle apps, which use a microphone and don't actually give you accurate feedback. Of course there's the likes of Fitbit, which itself is very good at sleep tracking with its heart rate metrics, but we feel like we can give comparable results."
At the heart of this, naturally, is the feedback you receive from the system. And instead of providing you with the likes of sleep scores and graphs regarding your night sleep, Circa will instead aim to provide actionable feedback that help establish a routine.
Essential reading: Sleep metrics explained
"What we found through our research is that the best thing to ensure healthy sleep is to maintain a routine and a rhythm," Weijers continued. "It's not one single night that does the trick, so one bad night won't change much. But if you're consistently going to bed at 10pm and getting up at 6am, then that's the best solution.
"And from that, we wanted to focus on getting the user into that routine, through things like notifications preparing you for bed. Also, if you've been aiming to go to bed at 10pm but, in fact, you've been heading to sleep 30-40 minutes later than that, Circa will pop and ask you if you want to get back to that or if you want to schedule a new bed time."
Feeding into this routine and bigger picture is also aided by Circa's ability to interact with smart home devices, with the help of Dutch IoT app Triggi. That means the device is able to talk to Philips Hue and brighten your lights on at a certain time, or even with your Nest thermostat to gradually turn the heat up in the morning. You can also wake up to standard alarm sounds, nature sounds and even your music through Spotify.
While connecting the rest of your smart home to the device is currently the priority, Weijers also didn't rule out the possibility of Circa working with wearables further down the line in order to provide even deeper sleep insights.
And after the team has spent the entirety of 2017 working through various iterations of the device, it's now edging ever closer to its €100,000 goal. If it manages to cross the line in its remaining weeks, the Circa team will use the money to begin the final round of industrial engineering, to get the injection mould ready and then actually create the tooling in order to start production.
Circa certainly brings something different to the sleep tracking space, but is it enough to see you back it?
Well, the alarm clock itself holds strengths in its connectivity and design, and the company's attitude towards privacy is sure to win it some fans. Couple that with the fact the Circa team understands the demands of the manufacturing process and has been involved with launching other connected products, and there's plenty to like here.
The big question, of course, is whether its tracking system is able to provide the accurate results you're looking for. Weijers indicated that the working prototype has been tested extensively, as you would expect, but you may still prefer to explore the different ways in which more established rivals are delving into your sleep. If you're in need of a smart looking connected alarm clock with an emphasis on tracking your sleep a little differently, this could be the device for you.
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