Amazon is reportedly working on a new Alexa-enabled bedside device that does more than soothe you to sleep with white noise or wake you up with an alarm. The device could assess how well you’re actually sleeping.
Business Insider reported this week that the small device that it has exclusively learned about will be used to detect and track sleep apnea.
According to people familiar with the project, contactless technology will be used to monitor the sleeping disorder using “millimeter-wave radar to track sleeping and breathing patterns of individual users and detect subtleties in their movements that could come from stoppages of breathing associated with sleep apnea.”
Sleep apnea occurs in about 3% of normal weight individuals but affects over 20% of obese people, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep. The condition causes people to repeatedly stop breathing while they sleep, and can result in high blood pressure, depression, difficulty concentrating, headaches and other harmful effects. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that the disorder affects 22 million Americans.
Business Insider reported that the project is internally code-named “Brahms,” calling it a likely reference to the German composer Johannes Brahms, who wrote “Lullaby” and is suspected to have suffered from sleep apnea.
Citing people familiar with the project, the report said the device “will likely be able to connect to other devices and send notifications through a separate app” and that a prototype “looks like a standing hexagonal pad connected to a metal wire base.”
Amazon declined to speak to Business Insider about its findings and told GeekWire it does not comment on rumors and speculation.
The tech giant’s recent moves in the health tech space have included the release of the new Halo health band, which is designed to measure such things as body composition, tone of voice, activity patterns and also sleep. Reports on that device have raised security concerns about what data the bracelet is collecting.
Amazon is not alone in taking on how well we sleep. A University of Washington student took home the $25,000 prize in the Dempsey Startup Competition in May for his innovative solution to sleep apnea, which relies on something like a high tech night guard that triggers a response in users so they naturally move their jaw position.