Can big data help you get a good night’s sleep?

An employee of Fullpower Technologies, rigged for a sleep study in the ­company’s lab.

An employee of Fullpower Technologies, rigged for a sleep study in the ­company’s lab. Right: The “head box” transfers input from body ­sensors to a base station that processes the data to ­create a personal polysomnogram. Photographs by Ian Allen for Fortune

Large-scale computing power, combined with input from millions of fitness trackers, could help unlock the mysteries of our national insomnia.

I’m playing tennis with Marissa Mayer, and oddly, the Yahoo YHOO -2.07% CEO is wearing a pearlescent purple gown and sipping from a teacup. Her dress is just long enough to obscure her feet, so she appears to be floating across the baseline. As she strikes the ball, she tips her chin skyward and laughs in slow motion.

Meanwhile, I’m perched in the lotus position atop a manta ray that’s hovering above the ground like some kind of Landspeeder. And I’m panicking. How can I keep my balance and still hit the ball—especially with my shirt collar pulling at my neck the way it is? Can’t swing my racket. I jerk my head left. Then right. I claw at my jawline. The ball has cleared the net, and it’s headed my way. If only. I could. Just. Move. My head.

And poof. She’s gone. I open my eyes in a strange room. It’s pitch dark and completely silent, but I manage to find my bearings. Santa Cruz, Calif. Breathing heavily, I carefully disentangle a gaggle of wires twisted around my neck and roll over to glance at the clock. Just after 3 a.m.

 


 

This scene, I now know, was merely one of 18 REM-sleep interruptions that I experienced between 11:18 p.m. and 6:16 a.m. during one long February night. What a strange setting for the only dream I’ve ever had about a chief executive: in a laboratory, tethered to a byzantine apparatus designed to monitor my brain activity as well as every breath, eye movement, muscle twitch, and heartbeat.

Let me explain. Like you and probably everyone you know, I’ve always been confounded by my sleep routine. Why do I one morning rise ready to tackle the day and the next seem barely able to lift my head? How much rest can I be getting if I wake up sideways with the covers on the floor and my wife in the guest room? Most important, what can I do better? I don’t want a magic pill. I’ve tried those. I know the rules of thumb: less stress, more exercise, better diet, no afternoon caffeine, put down the damn phone. But I’d kill for a personalized formula.

So I subjected myself to a polysomnography test, or PSG, hoping to unravel some of the mysteries of the night. My procedure was administered in the offices of Fullpower Technologies, one floor down from where I had spent most of the evening talking with the company’s founder and CEO, Philippe Kahn.

A French expatriate who grew up in Paris, Kahn, 63, is a Silicon Valley oracle whose track record predates the web. He founded Borland Software (acquired by Micro Focus) MCFUF -1.09% in the mid-1980s, followed by Starfish software (Motorola) and LightSurf Technologies (VeriSign) VRSN -1.53% . In 1997, while anticipating the birth of his daughter, he paired a state-of-the-art Casio CSIOY 0.51% camera with a Motorola Startac and became, he claims, the first person to transmit a digital photo over cellular airwaves. He’s also been a leader in wearable technologies.

Philippe Kahn says Fullpower is “operating a huge sleep experiment unlike anything anyone has ever done.”

Philippe Kahn says Fullpower is “operating a huge sleep experiment unlike anything anyone has ever done.” Photograph by Ian Allen for Fortune

That’s precisely the focus of Fullpower, which licenses its software to other companies. Nearly five dozen framed patents for wearable-related software and devices hang on the wall in the company’s lobby. The oldest dates to 2005, long before tracking steps became such a phenomenon. In the conference room there’s an assembly of chairs and tables around a full-size bed, making obvious Kahn’s latest obsession.

Fullpower built the lab about a decade ago to capture data from sleep patterns. Of course, test subjects don’t typically snooze deeply with wires glued to their skulls, chests, legs, and arms. But almost everyone manages to at least nod off for a while, and the data that subjects generate are valuable and often surprising. “What we found early on is that sometimes you sleep less and feel more refreshed,” Kahn says. “It’s because you woke up in the light part of the sleep cycle.” The insight led him to develop a sleep-cycle alarm that could determine the best time to alert a person within a certain window. “Sometimes it’s better to get up at 10 of seven than at seven,” he says.

Kahn insists that he’s on the cusp of many more such discoveries, and he’s intent on dispelling some of the conventional wisdom that stresses people out. “People say that if you can’t sleep for eight hours without waking up, something’s wrong with you. That’s such a fallacy,” he says. “Before electricity, people used to sleep in two shifts. That’s how I behave. Sleep for four hours, get up and do an hour and a half of work, and then another four.” He’s also skeptical of the notion that a quiet room is the best environment for shut-eye and dismisses the perceived deleterious effects of repeated rousing. “The sign of good sleep hygiene may not be how many times you wake up, but rather how rapidly you fall back to sleep. Sleep should be like hunger. Eat only when you’re hungry and until you’re satisfied.”

Fullpower has oceans of data to back Kahn’s theories. The company provides the sleep-tracking and activity-monitoring software for the Jawbone UP and Nike Fuel NKE -1.09% wearable devices as well as a new line of Swiss-made smartwatches and the forthcoming Simmons Sleeptracker Smartbed. The products transmit a mother lode of information (with users’ consent) to Kahn’s team. He thinks that by combining qualitative lab data and quantitative real-world data with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other analytics technologies, he can unlock the secrets that so many of us walking dead are looking for: a better night’s sleep. “We’re operating a huge sleep experiment, worldwide, unlike anything anyone has ever done,” he says. “We have 250 million nights of sleep in our database, and we’re using all the latest technologies to make sense of it.”

Kahn is not alone. He’s part of a movement of brilliant entrepreneurs, data scientists, engineers, and academics who are looking at demographics, geographies, and lifestyles, and even into our genomes. They’re the beneficiaries of a historic explosion in sleep data, and they’re using many of the same technologies that are busily decoding some of the world’s other great mysteries. Tiny sensors, big data, analytics, and cloud computing can predict machine breakage, pinpoint power outages, and build better supply chains. Why not put them to work to optimize the most valuable complex system of all, the human body?

fullpower-fortune-sleep-study-data

It’s not an exaggeration to say lack of sleep is killing us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it a public health epidemic and estimates that as many as 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Sleep deprivation has been linked to clinical depression, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving causes 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually in the U.S.  There are 84 sleep disorders, and some 100 million people—80% of them undiagnosed—suffer from one of them in particular: Obstructive sleep apnea, generally indicated by snoring, costs the U.S. economy as much as $165 billion a year, according to a Harvard Medical School study. That’s more than asthma, heart failure, stroke, hypertension, or drunk driving. And the study doesn’t account for tangential effects, like loss of intimacy and divorce. BCC Research predicts that the global market for sleep-aid products—everything from specialty mattresses and high-tech pillows to drugs and at-home tests—will hit $76.7 billion by 2019.

The financial upside for anyone who can crack the sleep code is obvious. And so the race is on. “I believe that 15 years from now, if we do this right, we can actually tackle epidemics like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and any number of lifestyle diseases,” says Kahn. “We’re going to help people live longer and better lives.”

Read the entire article at Fullpower.com

Fullpower Launches MotionX for the Apple Watch

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 23rd, 2015)- Fullpower® today announced the launch of the MotionX® Technology Platform for the Apple Watch with MotionX-GPS, the top selling off-road navigation app for the iPhone.

MotionX-GPS with Apple Watch

The MotionX-GPS Apple Watch interface enables users to quickly and conveniently:

  • Start/stop/pause recordings
  • View current speed, recorded distance, and ascent/descent while recording a track
  • View your current location on a map
  • Mark waypoints
  • View progress toward a waypoint destination

MotionX-GPS is immediately available for $0.99 from the App Store on iPhone or at www.AppStore.com/MotionX.

MotionX-GPS with Apple Watch

About Fullpower
Fullpower® provides the leading MotionX patented ecosystem for wearable and IoT sensor-based solutions supporting state-of-the-art sensor arrays. For the “Quantified Self”, Fullpower has developed the MotionX® Technology Platform for advanced wearables and smartwatches that include automatic activity and sleep monitoring. Fullpower drives wearable solutions for market leaders such as Nike, MMT, Alpina, Frederique Constant, Mondaine, Jawbone and others.

MMT Announces the Swiss Horological Smartwatch with Launch Partners Frederique Constant, Alpina and Mondaine, Powered by MotionX®

MMT Horological Smartwatch

MMT: The bridge between Silicon Valley and Swiss watch-making

MMT (Manufacture Modules Technologies) is a new Swiss Joint Venture SARL formed by Fullpower Technologies of Silicon Valley and Union Horlogere Holdings. Its mission is to bring the MotionX Horological Smartwatch Open Platform to the Swiss watch industry. Fullpower will create and manage the schematic design, firmware, smartphone applications, as well as the cloud Infrastructure. MMT will manage the Swiss watch movement development and production as well as licensing and support for the Swiss watch industry. MMT’s headquarters are in Geneva.

“We love working with Philippe Kahn and his team; their approach to technology craftsmanship very much matches our company culture,” said Peter Stas, CEO of MMT and Frederique Constant. “Our intense collaboration and combined strengths have enabled us to realize the exciting Swiss Horological Smartwatch now and will lead to much more to come. The Swiss Horological Smartwatches released today truly show the strength of our partnership.”

“We looked for innovative partners in the Swiss watch industry and Peter’s efforts to develop his own high caliber product was unprecedented,” said Philippe Kahn, CEO and founder of Fullpower-MotionX. “We immediately clicked and went to work to help reinvent the wonderful Swiss watch industry.”

The beautiful Swiss watch that you love to wear is now smart and connected, powered by MotionX®

Continue reading

Automatic Activity Identification Patent Critical For Smartwatches and Activity Trackers Awarded to the Fullpower MotionX Platform

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – (Feb 4, 2015) – Fullpower® today announced it has been awarded another important patent covering key practical aspects of automatic activity identification in wearables with a February 2008 priority date. Automatic activity identification is crucial for most smartwatches and advanced fitness trackers such as the Jawbone UP24™, UP MOVE™, UP3™ and many upcoming smartwatches.

“Smartwatches and advanced activity trackers get turbo-charged by automatic activity identification and early priority date IP is critical,” said Philippe Kahn, CEO of Fullpower. “As the sensing technology leader for smartwatches and activity trackers, our IP portfolio represents a sizable strategic advantage for our partners such as Nike, Jawbone and others.”

These patents are part of an intellectual property portfolio from Fullpower that includes more than 47 issued patents with over 77 patents pending. Broad coverage for the MotionX® Technology Platform and Sleeptracker® technology introduces a new and necessary approach for continuous activity and sleep monitoring and analysis, with applications spanning a variety of smartwatches and activity trackers as well as health and fitness, medical, business, lifestyle and navigation applications. Fullpower’s ongoing innovation translates into continually broadening and deepening of this patent portfolio.

The patent for invention number 8,949,070 relates to gesture and current user activity recognition. This patent supplements the Fullpower patent portfolio for the MotionX Sensor-Fusion technology.

Fullpower US Patent 8949070

 

Important Links:
www.fullpower.com
www.motionx.com

About Fullpower
Fullpower® provides the leading MotionX-365 patented ecosystem for wearable and IoT sensor-based solutions supporting state-of-the-art sensor arrays. For the “Quantified Self”, Fullpower has developed the MotionX® Technology Platform for smartwatches that include automatic activity and sleep monitoring. Fullpower powers market-leading wearable solutions from Nike, Jawbone and others.

Rigging the new Pegasus-MotionX flying machine

Rigging the new Pegasus-MotionX flying machine

Rigging the new Pegasus-MotionX flying machine for the first time outside of our workshop, as the rain stopped just in time. Tomorrow, Sunday, is the first test-sail here in Santa Cruz!

Pegasus-MotionX Carbon Beams in, Aero Trampoline... Another couple days of work and sea trials, foils being faired.... Soon we will be flying!

Pegasus-MotionX Carbon Beams in, Aero Trampoline… Another couple days of work and sea trials, foils being faired…. Soon we will be flying!