Sleep monitoring related offerings started surfacing in the consumer market couple of years ago. More recently EASYWAKEme, another European startup, has thrown it’s hat in the ring.

While reviewing Zeo and aXbo last year, I found myself wondering what was the need for having a bedside clock hardware, since most of that computing could be done in a smartphone. Seems like the crop of solutions  that followed (e.g. WakeMate, Lark, Zeo Mobile) thought of the same. EASYWAKEme follows the pattern: wearable sensor (on wrist) that monitors movement as a proxy for sleep phase, provides intelligent wake-up alarm and longitudinal insight into your sleeping habits. Their ‘how it works‘ page explains it well.

Quick market analysis shows that price is going to be a very important factor since there is a wide range right now and consumers will tend to favor the cheapest. EASYWAKEme (£118), aXbo (starts at €179), SleepTracker ($149) are at the more expensive end compared to competitors like Lark (starts at $99), Zeo (mobile is $99), FitBit ($99), Jawbone Up ($99). WakeMate has already started the downward spiral at $59.

Activity sensors like FitBit, and more recently Jawbone Up are also chomping at the bit to include sleep monitoring as their value proposition. Cheaper solutions that are just smartphone apps are competition too. I actually bought the $0.99 SleepCycle iphone app out of curiosity (it had >20,000 reviews, most were positive) and ended up forgetting about it after a week. I now put it in the same category as placebo: it’ll work only if you already believe it does.

So the real question is whether body movement tracking and analysis is really a dependable way for extrapolating sleep phases. I still believe (based on scientific persuasion like this, and this) that it is. The ultimate hope is that these low-cost innovations can make their way back to help with serious issues like sleep disorders and psychiatric disorders. Current solutions like polysomnography are too cumbersome to be done outside of a clinical setting.

Disclosure: The generous folks at EASYWAKEme offered to send me a review unit, so I’ll be testing that hypothesis over the next few weeks. Look out for an update to this review in near future.

July 2012 Update: Used the unit several nights. Not scoring high on usability, mostly because of underlying BlackBerry OS inelegance. Overall, the concept seems to work. I woke up fresh most of the mornings I used it. Some gory details below:

  • Alarm setup is a pain due to BB limitations. Very tricky to use the trackball to setup wake time. Can’t see the cursor lot of times. Aarrgh..
  • If I don’t exit the app after pressing sleep, the BB stays on. More than once it ran out of juice by the morning.
  • Buggy..even when on “silent” mode, the alarm tone still came on after 3 minutes
  • There is no way to shut the alarm immediately on BB! Had to run out with it to avoid waking up my wife. Why can’t i shut the BB alarm with one keystroke or with the button on EASYWAKEme device?
  • The device vibrations don’t stop until I hold the button down long enough to shut it off. Not sure if that is intentional design. But quite irritating in the morning…
  • The BB’s final step of putting app in “sleep” mode is not intuitive or written well in manual. Also, that should be a button right next to the place where you set the alarm, and not a menu option.
  • I would have liked it if shutting off the device or just pressing its button in some way shut off alarm on BB. Without that, the user is forced to hunt down their BB in morning to shut the damn alarm.
  • Battery lasted only 2 days during my trial.