By Guy Meger
We’ve all had mornings where we get out of bed bleary-eyed from a late night of celebrating, studying, fretting children, or just plain insomnia. New studies have found that the fatigue, forgetfulness, and poor concentration are not only caused by the amount of sleep we get or don’t get, but are also influenced by the quality of our sleep. Many of us wake up not feeling refreshed or recharged because we are simply not sleeping well.
Much of our general wellness can be assessed based on information collected during sleep. Heart and breathing rates, as well as our movements during sleep, especially when tracked over a period of time, can tell us a great deal about how healthy we are.
EarlySense brought to market contact-free medical solutions for hospitals. We are now developing wellness and sleep monitoring sensors that go under bed mattresses for home applications and working closely with IBM researchers in Haifa, Israel, to discover the potential of wellness* sensing in large populations and over long periods of time.
The contact-free home application sensor automatically detects, monitors, and records heart rates, breathing rates, motion and sleep activity as soon as a person gets into bed. The data collected by the sensor is wirelessly sent to smart phones and tablets, where it can be further analyzed.
Data collected from large populations, over long periods of time, even years, provides a powerful database of comparative knowledge. IBM’s new Big Data analytics solution assesses the data generated by the wellness sensor and provides an insightful, deeper understanding of what all of this information means. For example: heart rates or breathing patterns may indicate potential risks. They can also help us to better understand how our sleep patterns may influence our behavior and wellness status.
The future of wellness tech
Combining EarlySense and IBM technologies holds incredible potential for businesses in the wellness market. Many companies want to help their employees improve their level of health; healthcare providers need to identify high-risk cases for further monitoring; parents can track their children’s sleep patterns; and adults can watch over their elderly parents who need care. And many of us just want to evaluate restlessness and stress levels to better understand how to get a good night sleep, perform better during the day, and live healthier, happier lives.
For example, say “John” is a healthy 45 year-old manager in high-tech. He exercises regularly, doesn’t smoke, and maintains a nutritious diet. But he’s still worried about his health because a number of people in his family suffered from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in their sleep. Over the last couple of days John has felt some weakness and hasn’t been sleeping well. By having a system that collects vital signs, movement, and sleep data, and analyzes it on-the-spot, “John” can gain new insight into his existing symptoms.
The system will compare his data from the night before with his data patterns from previous nights. It will also provide an analysis of his data in comparison with the patterns of a large population. Perhaps the analytics might provide statistical evidence that other people in the area are having trouble sleeping over the last couple of nights. This might be due to changes in the weather, sensitivities to changes in the level of air pollution, or even an increase in pollen for those who suffer from allergies.
The system will also present appropriate recommendations from its knowledge base. These suggestions are collected based on statistically-proven interventions, and might be anything from avoiding exercising outside during specific hours of the day to something more proactive like studying techniques to improve breathing. It might even suggest that “John” consult his doctor.
The IBM-EarlySense solution will be demonstrated at the upcoming Information On Demand (IOD) 2013 event in Las Vegas from November 3 to 7. At the event, the “Sleep Well, Live Well” demo will be one of a number of IBM Research innovations being showcased at the Big Data analytics booth #316. It presents a platform that combines the scale and robustness of IBM Big Insights, Streams, Netezza and Cognos, with IBM Research wellness accelerators and EarlySense’s proven sensing technology.
As part of the demo, visitors will be invited to check their own heart rate, breathing rate, motion and “sleeping” patterns, see how their current conditions are routed to a centralized monitor for possible intervention and treatment, compare their conditions with respect to statistics collected during the IOD conference, and more.
Come and “take a nap” at our booth and check how well you are!
*The EarlySense wellness system is not intended for medical use