Kokoon takes on the sleep process with a pair of smart headphones

kokoon-headphonesThe idea of wearing a pair of headphones to bed does not sound particularly appealing, but British startup Kokoon hopes that you will, undergoing an ambitious effort to develop a device that can monitor your sleep patterns and help you enjoy an optimal night of rest.

The headphones being developed by Kokoon are basically aiming to re-shape the way that we sleep by using mini EEG sensors, placed within the band and earphones, to monitor brain activity and tell users how well they are sleeping, as well as guide them in a better direction. The device makes use of different types of music to put the wearer to sleep (adjusting volume based on the activity it finds) and then wakes them up at the appropriate time (within a time-range suggested by the user). It is billed as “smart” device, learning from the wearer’s data and adjusting in order to help them to achieve optimal sleep. In addition to the hardware, the startup is also developing mobile apps, which would allow users to set the alarm and to change up the music.

It may seem like such a device would eventually get uncomfortable to wear, but Kokoon is actively promoting the design of it, which allows the device to nicely “hug” the person’s head and maintains a steady airflow in order to keep the wearer’s head cool. The device that they are building is battery-powered (can run for reported 25 hours in “sleep” mode and 11 with continuous audio playback), but there is a USB port for charging it up.

It will be awhile, February 2016 at the earliest, before you can get your hands on the device, but the lengthy wait is by design, as Kokoon says that they will not release the device until they have conducted 10,000 hours of comfort and user testing. Backers can currently order a “light” version (missing the app, sensors, or sleep-science part) through Kickstarter for $159 or pick up the full version for $189 (the latter will cost $299 when it goes on sale). The apps will reportedly be free.

Kokoon CTO and co-founder Richard Hall tells me that the team injected some of their own funds into the project and obtained an undisclosed amount of VC funding, but, like other recent hardware startups, they have turned to Kickstarter to generate interest and fund manufacturing. Although the campaign has another 25 days until it is completed, it has proven to be wildly popular, attracting more than $750,000 from from 3,354 backers. This total far exceeds the goal of $100,000 that they set out to raise.

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