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MIT Researcher Creates Sleep-Tracking Bedsheets

Blame the influx of sleep trackers on the uptick in screen time before bed. Studies have shown that blue-light emitting devices, like laptops and smartphones can disrupt sleep cycles, leading to an overload of apps, mattress pads and watch-like gizmos promising to improve shuteye-quality.

But most sleep tracking apps come with a fatal “Princess and the Pea”-like flaw: they’re intrusive, which can negatively impact the very thing they’re designed to enrich.

Paulino Vacas Jacques, an independent researcher at M.I.T., claims he’s come up with a solution that doesn’t get in the way of a good night’s rest.

The scientist has designed what he calls a “motherboard” for the medical industry, a card loaded with sensors capable of tracking sleep quality that can be embedded into linen sheets or bedspreads, which then sends the collected data to doctors or specialists via radio frequencies.

“In particular, the technology would be aimed at people who suffer from depression and are under medical treatment, because it will be an effective tool to know how many hours of sleep the patient is getting,” Jacques said in a press release. And since the sensor is built into the bedding, it doesn’t interfere with the patient’s sleep cycle.

Now he’s hoping his smart textiles will pique the interest of companies in other arenas that can benefit from non-invasive trackers, like sports. “The technology-based invention is for individual use and allows us to develop a series of products based on it,” he said, noting that he’s already installed the technology into a dozen other products, with support from Mexico’s Innovation Park De La Salle. “If a company is interested in the system it can be particularized specifically to the area where it is desired to be used.”