If you've ever slept with a bad snorer, you know the pain. Best case scenario: the frustration of it is eventually enough to make you pass out with exhaustion.
On Kickstarter now for $59, the Snore Circle from VVFLY Electronics is a potential cure for your - or your partners' - snoring problems. Snore Circle is a smart wearable sleeping mask that comes with a little module that uses sound detection and bone conduction to identify when you're snoring.
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Once you do that, it sends out little vibrations in an effort to trick your brain into tightening your throat muscles. See, snoring happens when the tissues in your throat are relaxed. When air travels through your mouth and throat, it hits these relaxed tissues and causes them to vibrate. If your throat muscles are tightened, contracting these tissues, snoring should subside.
Johnson Luo, founder of VVFLY, tells Wareable that the vibrations on the Snore Circle actually adjust to your snoring level. There are 36 different levels of vibrations and the Snore Circle will keep increasing the strength of the vibration if you keep snoring. Once you stop, it stops.
However, Luo also says the company has tuned the vibrations so that they don't get so strong that people just end up waking up. They're enough to alter your throat muscles, but not enough to wake you up from your slumber.
In addition to stopping your snoring, Snore Circle also keeps track of your sleep and snoring levels. You can open up the companion app and check out how you've been sleeping, and you can also see the intensity of your snoring, the decibel level of your snoring and how it either gets better or worse as you use the Snore Circle.
This is actually the fourth generation of the Snore Circle. Previous versions, Luo said, were hit with some usability problems that made them difficult for customers to use. The new Snore Circle, which adopts an entirely new form factor, is much more comfortable.
"So the first generation has a problem because that is the first product we designed, which is put on the ear and we didn't realize it's easy to drop [out of your ear while you sleep]," Luo says. The second generation added a hook that locked into a person's ear, but it caused a little pain. They then added a silicone gel to try to make it more comfortable, but people still felt it was uncomfortable. Enter the new sleep mask version of the Snore Circle.
As for detecting sleep quality, Luo says the Snore Circle contains a motion detector in addition to sound detection and bone conduction. This motion detector pairs with the other sensors and feeds data into an algorithm that figures out sleep quality. However, Luo admits that this isn't the most accurate way of detecting sleep phase.
"In the future generation, we will put the EEG on the head to detect people's brain wave to identify people's sleep phase," Luo says. "If the people sleep in the light phase, we will [work on features] to get [people] more relaxed and get into deeper sleep."
One of those features to get people better relaxed to sleep is music, as Luo pointed out there are some people who have trouble falling asleep in dark, quiet environments and often need some noise to soothe them to sleep.
Before you sleep on this question, consider this: Snore Circle is a product that is already in its fourth iteration. Thus, Luo points out that the company already has experience delivering products, specifically pointing out that it's shipped tens of thousands of previous-generation Snore Circles in Europe.
Luo is confident the company will be able to deliver enough product to backers, and the company is also fairly confident people will like Snore Circle. It's offering a full money-back guarantee.
"We have 30 days refund guarantee. If the people who feel not satisfied with product within 30 days, they can just send us an email and say I want a refund and that's it, we can refund."
Snore Circle kind of feels too good to be true. It's aiming to take on a problem that - if fixed - would make nights much, much easier for a whole lot of couples. At the same time, it's relatively affordable at only $59, which makes it one of the more affordable crowdfunding wearable bets out there. If you're desperate to solve your snoring crises, this might be an answer worth exploring.