Late last year we took a look at the revolutionary Beddit Sleep Tracker and Wellness Coach and loved the non-wearable concept.
In February Beddit introduced a cloud based web portal to enable groups to gather and compare their sleep data.
To put it to the test, the members of my family have each been using a Beddit Sleep Tracker and via the new Family portal, collectively shared our sleep data for the past few months.
Read on for our experiences.
The Beddit Sleep tracking hardware is essentially a small ribbon which is attached to your mattress via double sided tape. The hardware pairs itself wirelessly via bluetooth to a modern smart phone which in turn records your data. In tandem, a smartphone and the Beddit Sleep Tracker hardware monitor your heart rate, respiration and (with the help of the smart phone microphone), even your nightly snoring patterns!
Not only are each of these data sets easily viewed on your smartphone but the Beddit Sleep Tracker and Wellness Coach also aggregates your nightly sleep into an easy to understand "Sleep Score." The higher the score, the better your overall sleep habits were for that night.
While we will look at the Family portal in more detail below, if you are new to the Beddit Sleep Tracking concept, you may want to read our previously posted Beddit hardware review.
Our Family Experience
To get started, we first had to round up some hardware - While Beddit kindly supplied us with an additional Beddit device to include all three family members in our testing, we had to organise three smartphones/tablets. Luckily we had an iPad 3, iPad Mini and an iPhone 5 on hand to do the Beddit's heavy lifting. While a great many families will have such hardware lying around these days, we still hope Beddit will eventually make their hardware monitors work independently and thus avoiding the requirement of having a smart device for each actual sleeper.
Our test family is made up of two adults and a ten year old boy. To esnure our data was accurately recorded and shared via the new Beddit Family web portal, it was a requirement that each member create their own dedicated Beddit account.
The Family setup process was easy and the rudimentary graphic avatars Beddit provides are a great way to quickly and easily differentiate between users. While I set up all three accounts, the process was simple enough that any half-tech savvy 10 year old could accomplish.
While the sleep data on its own isn't overly sensitive (in a personal security sense), it is important to note that sleep data is only shared with members of your group as selected by you. To this end, at any time, you can easily add or delete a member from your group and at no stage is your data made public.
Both adults and child found the Family portal easy to use and informative. While the data on the smartphone application for each individual user was more detailed, the ability to compare and contrast everyone's data made for interesting reading - even to a ten year old!
As parents, we were able to analyse the sleep data easily and on occasion correlate disrupted sleep to poor behaviour as well as remind us of our own less than ideal sleep habits. Especially worth noting was that in being able to view his sleep score each morning, our child actively aimed to increase his overall sleep score. This gamification of healthy sleep actually encouraged our child to actively work on improving his sleep habits.
Also worth noting is that as we found in our original review, the data collected by the Beddit hardware appeared to be relatively accurate and throughout out testing found no real anomalies to indicate otherwise.
The data on the Beddit Family portal itself was cleanly laid out and the design really made comparing data between group (family) members easy. Like the companion iOS App, the sleep data on the Beddit Family web portal was presented in colourful graphs, which included detailed nightly charts and a 14 day data median. Each member could quickly view their own data, and as it says on the tin, easily compare their sleep habits with those of the rest of the family.
Potential and Improvements
Besides than our pining for the Beddit's hardware to become independent from needed a required smart device, we had few complaints. The Beddit Family web portal, like the Beddit smartphone application, was really quite intuitive to use and presented sleep data in a very user friendly way.
Also, other than a bluetooth pairing issue we encountered early on, the only notable hiccup we came across was with our 10 year old's Beddit iOS app advice. While we found the incident quite funny, it may upset some folk to have their ten year old to be advised that "Your bed is only for sleep and sex."
Other than being mildly inappropriate, this problem does highlight Beddit's lack of dedicated child analysis. Despite the child friendly data displays, the recommended sleep amounts are arguably a tad low for growing children and obviously the advice isn't especially tailored to age. While especially vigilant parents can simply remove the Sleeping Coach Tips from appearing in the IOS app (and presumably other smart device versions), the overall child friendliness is really just a question of relatively minor software tweaks.
As Beddit enters the "family" arena, we hope this becomes a priority as children are invariably a large component of the family dynamic.
And on this point, while we have overly emphasised the Family tag in this review, Beddit are unashamedly aiming the Beddit Family at other non family groups of people also. As a family we found the data interesting and helpful but it should be noted that groups of friends, coworkers or sporting teams in particular, might find this data especially useful in a professional sense.
We know the warnings in the documentation tell us the Beddit is not a medical device but it does provide health data which to parents (in this case in particular) was helpful, useful and informative.
While gamification is not a new concept, the gamification of sleep really made an impression on our ten year old - He consistently tried to beat his sleep score and always wanted to share it with us every morning. Other than a tanglible big day the following day, I can think of no other real way to encourage children to effectively get a better night's sleep!
While the application of the Beddit hardware and Beddit Family portal are obviously going to be huge to sporting teams trying to manage and stabilise performance, for our family, the Beddit Family proved to be a great (and relatively unintrusive) parenting tool.
Again, we stress that the Beddit system is not a diagnostic medical tool, although hasten to add that using the data collected to correlate lack of sleep to poor behaviour or identifying consistently restless sleep could be the first step parents take in identifying more acute problems.
The Beddit Family is essentially a free upgrade to current Beddit users and really just improves and adds to the overall experience. As Beddit continues to improve both its hardware, software and Family portal features, the way we all look at sleep will undoubtedly change for the better.
The Beddit Family portal is accessible for free to all Beddit users at http://family.beddit.com.