Gadgets & Apps


Now, if you're not already out of bed, maybe this will help you.





SAMUEL L. JACKSON: (as Mr. Senor Love Daddy) Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Up you wake. Up you wake. Up you wake. This is Mr. Senor Love Daddy. Your voice...


INSKEEP: Samuel Jackson in the movie, "Do the Right Thing," with quite a wake-up call. Maybe Renee and I should try that. But if you still feel sluggish and drowsy after you're up, do not blame us, because it could be the quality of your sleep.

New technology devices are available now, all claiming to help improve your sleep and your health.

Rich Jaroslovsky has been reviewing them for Bloomberg News. He's a technology columnist there, and he talked with Renee about those technologies.


Welcome to the program. And I'm going to start by saying: Are you like everybody else? I mean, do you have sleep problems?

RICH JAROSLOVSKY: I think I am. In my case, I can get to sleep, but I never get enough sleep. And I think millions of Americans feel the same way.

MONTAGNE: So let's talk about these new devices. What are they supposed to do? What magic are they supposed to deliver?

JAROSLOVSKY: Well, they take advantage of all the technology that already surrounds us, whether it's our smartphones or our personal computers. And what they're trying to do is measure how well we sleep and how long we sleep - the idea being that if it's something that we can track, we can improve by adopting healthier habits.

MONTAGNE: I have a couple of these devices sitting here with me on the table. And one of them is called Sleep Tracker, and it looks like a big watch. It looks like almost an underwater watch. And what it promises to do is to help you wake up at the ideal moment in your sleep cycle.

JAROSLOVSKY: Exactly. The idea is if you wake up from a deep sleep, you're going to feel groggy. So what you do with these devices is that you give them a time that you say I want to wake up by, you know, 6:45, for example. And because they're monitoring your sleep cycles while you're asleep, they will look for a time in the window - 15 minutes or 20 minutes before that set alarm time - where you're in a light sleep phase, where you are more likely to wake up refreshed.

MONTAGNE: Right. So you have to put a device, though, on your wrist. There's another one here you put on your forehead, sort of like a sweat band, with something stuck to it on the front. Tell us about this one.

JAROSLOVSKY: This is the Zeo. And what you're seeing here, there's a device that's about the size of a money clip, and the sensor is in that. And it's attached to this headband that you put on, which makes you look pretty ridiculous.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, this will keep your partner up all night.


JAROSLOVSKY: Well, it's a - it's certainly - I don't know that you want to look in the mirror when you're wearing this one. And you wear it over your forehead. So it's detecting things like the electrical impulses in your brain, your eye movements, and it's capturing all this data. And then it will wirelessly transmit it to your phone, where there's a free app that Zeo provides that will allow you to track what kind of sleep, whether it's REM sleep, how much deep sleep you've had, how many times you awaken during the night. And all those things go into calculating the quality of your sleep.

And the idea is if you can track it and quantify it, you can improve it.

MONTAGNE: Now, none of these technologies are very streamlined, and certainly none of them are invisible. What, though, might they tell us about what we might see down the road?

JAROSLOVSKY: The really significant thing about these things is what they arguer for the future. They are all part of a trend called Connected Health and another trend called Wearable Technology. So you can imagine when one of these things might be shrunk down to the size of a button on your pajamas that is wirelessly communicating with a mobile device that's plugged in next to the bed, providing you with much better data and much more data, and allowing you to share that data wirelessly with a doctor or a health care provider. So you can kind of see where this is all going. But the fact is we're right now at such an early, early stage, that some of these things can be a little bit clunky. You've really got to be dedicated if you're going to wear a headband to bed every night.

MONTAGNE: Rich Jaroslovsky is technology columnist for Bloomberg News and a regular guest on our program. Thank you very much.


Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from