Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor

Fitbit files patent for multi-person sleep tracking device

Fitbit has recently filed an interesting sleep tracking patent. Titled “Sleep Monitoring System with Optional Alarm Functionality,” it describes a device unlike anything in the company’s existing arsenal.

The patent

The 78 page patent goes under the number 11,642,077. Its USPTO filing details a sleep monitoring system that includes carriers configured to place above or under a fitted sheet / bed mattress. The carriers are designed to position under or over one or more people lying on the bed. This differs from traditional sleep monitoring systems, which are designed for single individuals.

The system includes two types of sensors distributed across the carriers. The design of these aims to generate sleep data for a sleeper, encompassing various physiological metrics. The system’s processors and computer-readable storage devices extract and analyze this sensor data, enabling them to provide comprehensive insights into the sleep quality of the sleeper.

Fitbit patent
Source: US Patent Office

The patent documentation does not explicitly mention the specific types of sensors used in the Fitbit sleep tracking device. We hypothesize that one of these is likely to have something to do with radio waves. We’ve already seen a few devices with this technology, the most recent being Amazon Halo Rise. It works similar to the echo location system used by bats, detecting your sleep levels without touching you or the sleeping surface.

We’ve also seen a few companies coming out with their solutions for sensors lying under the mattress. For example, there is the Withings Sleep Monitor which is probably best in class. This mat is placed under the bed covers and provides a sleep quality assessment, tracks heart rate, detects snoring, and offers additional features. The sleep breathing disturbance data is plotted over time and displayed, along with other relevant data, in the Withings Health Mate app.

Innovative wake up alarm

In addition to its sleep monitoring capabilities, the Fitbit patent also describes an innovative wake-up alarm. The system incorporates alarms positioned on the carriers, spaced apart along an axis parallel to the width of the bed. The system’s processors can activate these alarms in response to independent signals, providing a personalized wake-up experience.

Why this is important

In the realm of sleep tracking technology, Fitbit faces stiff competition from several tech giants. Despite a slow start, Apple, with its Apple Watch, has been making strides in sleep tracking. It now offers features like sleep duration tracking, sleep goals, and wind-down routines. Companies such as Garmin, and Samsung are also investing heavily in sleep tracking technology, along with others like Xiaomi, Mobvoi, Zepp Health and Huawei.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Fitbit’s patented sleep monitoring system offers several advantages over traditional smartwatch sleep tracking. Firstly, it’s designed to facilitate simultaneous sleep data collection for multiple people, such as two individuals sharing a bed. No smart devices on the market can currently do this.

Secondly, the system’s use of multiple sensors distributed across a bed has the potential to provide a more comprehensive and accurate data collection. Smartwatches rely on a single point of contact with the user’s wrist, which may not provide a complete picture of the user’s sleep patterns.

Lastly, the comfort factor cannot be overlooked. Some people find wearing a watch to bed uncomfortable, which can adversely affect their sleep quality. Fitbit’s system, placed under or over the mattress, provides a non-intrusive alternative. While the patent is promising, it’s important to recognise it for what it is – it’s just a patent for now.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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