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An Inexpensive, Smartwatch-Based Sleep Monitor

15 October 2018

Researchers from Lancaster University in England and Northwest University in China have developed technology that uses data gathered from smartwatches to help determine sleep problems.

Your smartwatch could soon help you diagnose sleep problems at home.Your smartwatch could soon help you diagnose sleep problems at home.

The algorithm, named SleepGuard, uses the sensors already placed in smartwatches to gather data about sleep patterns. SleepGuard provides data on users' sleep quality and provides tips and advice on how they can improve their sleep.

The technology tracks non-biomedical factors, including body movements, sounds related to sleep disorders and ambient lighting, that can indicate poor sleep.

During testing, 15 participants used the SleepGuard technology to track their sleeping. The results showed that the system is able to estimate the user’s sleep quality with the same accuracy as expensive sleep monitors. While its data may lack the depth of more expensive solutions, SleepGuard can gather the information behind poor sleep quality and pinpoint problems.

Dr. Zheng Wang, senior lecturer at Lancaster University and co-author of the research, said, "Sleep quality has been shown to depend on a wide range of factors, such as ambient light, noisiness as well as breathing patterns, sleeping postures and bedtime routines. Without details of the sleeping environment and the individual's postures and movements across sleeping stages, the root cause of poor sleep cannot be captured and therefore addressed.”

Dr. Petteri Nurmi, lecturer from Lancaster University and co-author of the work, said, "Our project aims to unlock the full potential of off-the-shelf consumer smartwatches, taking advantage of their sophisticated suite of sensors to gain a fuller understanding of a wearer's sleep patterns."

Smartwatches contain several sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, orientation sensor and microphone. These are used by SleepGuard to gather information about sounds surrounding the sleeper and identify hand and body movements during sleep.

The paper on the new sleep system was published in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies journal.

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