By: Binyamin Zirman  | 

I Sense You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

As college students, sleep deprivation is something that we’ve almost become totally accustomed to. My late night study habits (we’re talking 2:00am and 3:00am) and coffee addiction are two examples of my personal sleeping difficulties. While YU, its dual curriculum, and its myriad of extracurricular activities are time consuming and at least partially responsible for many students’ sleep deprivation, this is a problem that plagues college students everywhere. According to research by Brown University, 73 percent of students in a certain experiment were found to have sleep problems. And, these sleep problems for college students aren’t just limited to sleep deprivation. At least 30 percent of college women and 18 percent of college men reported that they suffered from some form of insomnia over the past 3 months. And what are the byproducts of sleep deprivation? The same Brown University study shows that sleep deprivation impairs people’s ability to function normally throughout the day, causing them to pay less attention in class. This explains, in part, why students with sleep deprivation were found to have lower GPAs.

A company that is actively trying to fix this issue of sleep deprivation is EarlySense. EarlySense was founded in 2004 and is based in Ramat Gan, Israel, with U.S. headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts. The CEO of the company is Avner Halperin, and Tim O’Malley is the president. The company is currently developing a consumer-facing product, called myEarlySense, geared toward sleep and wellness monitoring at private homes—a technology that could undoubtedly help the aforementioned sleep deprived college students. With this technology, users place a sensor under their mattress, which collects information on heart rate, respiration, and sleep stages and movement, and then wirelessly transmits the data to a smartphone app. myEarlySense can also be paired with home automation systems, which will give users a whole series of powerful features to take advantage of. For example, if myEarlySense senses that a user is struggling to enter a deep sleep because they are too cold or there is too much light in the room they’re sleeping in, myEarlySense can speak directly with a smart home automation system like Nest to raise the temperature, turn off lights in neighboring rooms, or pull down the shades in the room. This functionality is related to the IoT or Internet of Things, which has gained popularity and received attention in the news recently. In short, IoT is when various electronic devices speak with each other.

This isn’t EarlySense’s first product though. EarlySense has actually served enterprises for many years now, with their products that identify early signs of patient deterioration and motion in hospitals, elderly care facilities and homes. Their flagship product is EverOn, a contact-free early detection patient supervision system that measures, records, displays, and alerts heart and respiration rates, as well as bed entries and exits, patient motion, and quality of sleep- all from under the mattress.

EarlySense’s system empowers the medical staff in unmonitored wards to detect patients’ deterioration by following and analyzing patients' vital signs and motion. This enables the nursing staff to improve clinical outcomes and proactively reduce length of stay in the hospital’s general wards and in ICUs while also decreasing unfortunate events like falls.

It’s not hard to see the utility of this product for general care patients who are usually monitored by nurses only once every four to six hours. With EarlySense, in the event of a change in a patient’s status, the system notifies nurses at a central nursing station and on their mobile devices.

In January of this year, CEO Halperin emphasized to MobiHealthNews that they “see a huge value in our technology in the home consumer space or digital health space. This technology that was invented and proven in… the hospitals and home care institutions; now we’ve proven that that same capability can be brought into the home.”

In June of this year, the company actually announced a new funding round of $25m dollars, which will be used specifically for these consumer products.

EarlySense occupies a unique place in their market. One of their early competitors, Apieron, focused on similar technology to EarlySense, but primarily in the asthma sector. While their initial product sounded promising, they never received FDA approval and have since gone out of business. This lends hope to the idea that perhaps EarlySense can really establish itself as a force in this area. Another one of EarlySense’s competitors is Micronics Microfluidics. In another promising sign for EarlySense, Sony Corporation purchased Micronics in 2011 for an undisclosed sum, showing that their might be some lucrative M&A potential for EarlySense if they choose to go that route.

Part of what makes EarlySense so unique is that their products and research can affect users in a vast number of areas. Their products can obviously be used in hospitals and wellness centers, but can also change the lives of millions of consumers in their homes, in nonmedical settings. It can improve their sleep, and consequently their productivity and physical and mental health. To see that EarlySense is life changing is by no means an understatement.