Withings, the company behind the connected scale that is responsible for all those tweets sharing people’s weight, is adding to its line of connected health monitoring products with the Aura sleep tracking device. The Aura not only tracks sleep but also actively tries to promote better sleep with light and sound. It also could replace your bedside table lamp and perhaps your alarm clock freeing up valuable space for your Kindle.
The $299 package gets you a sensor pad that slips under your mattress as well as a bedside lamp and speaker combo. The sleep sensor tracks your body movements, breathing cycles and heart rate while the bedside device screens your bedroom environment for noise pollution, room temperature and light levels.
The idea here is that the bedside component will offer pre-programmed sound and light options to help you fall asleep and wake up, while also helping build optimal sleep routines based on data the device collects. There are plenty of devices like this on the market today, from programmable Hue light bulbs that gently wake you up to the Fitbit or sleep-tracking apps that track your Zs. However, as the failure of the much-lauded Zeo Sleep Monitor shows, this is a market where consumers not only have to buy into the device, but also into the idea that they should be tracking their sleep.
So while, like the Zeo, the Aura could take the guesswork or the sense of futility out of the tracking by offering solutions to poor sleep, the consumer market may not think it needs such a device. Especially given the other alternatives embedded in exiting trackers. The emphasis will have to be on better data through the mattress pad and the programs to offer improved sleep.
It’s one thing to the see that your sleep quality is terrible, but it’s another to figure out how to improve it. Of course, if you have a spouse who snores, or a small child that’s responsible for your poor sleep, then I’m not sure this device will help all that much. And if you want to share your Aura with a spouse, you’d need a second mattress pad sensor. We’ll have to wait until Spring to find out, as that’s when this device will be available.
Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom. Om Malik, founder of Gigaom, is also a venture partner at True.