Sleep tracker startup Hello raises $10.5 million

By Brian Dolan
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SenseFresh off its $2.4 million crowdfunding campaigning for sleep tracking, bedside orb, Sense, San Francisco-based startup Hello has announced $10.5 million in backing from a group of angel investors. The Wall Street Journal reports the investors include former PayPal head David Marcus, Facebook executive Dan Rose, former Facebook designer Aaron Sittig, Spotify advisor Shakil Khan, and Hugo Barra, a Xiaomi executive.

Hello's founder James Proud is a Thiel Fellow who dropped out of college in 2010 -- some of his startup's investors have obvious ties to Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook and many other tech companies.

The Sense device is a small orb-shaped device that sits on a bedside table and tracks the noise, light, humidity, and temperature in the user's bedroom. The device turns green when it senses the room is at an appropriate temperature, light level and noise level. Sense pings a user's app if it finds their room is not a proper atmosphere for sleeping yet. The system also includes a small clip, called Sleep Pill, that attaches to the user's pillow. After a night of sleep, the Sense app shows user's sleeping patterns detected by the Pill clip as well as environmental data tracked by the bedside device.

Hello's team of 20 includes former Foxconn and Garmin employees. The company's original plan -- back in late 2012 -- was to develop a new wearable device, but it scrapped those plans to focus initially on sleep tracking. Late 2012 also happens to be when longtime, high-profile sleep tracking company Zeo began to winding down its operations.

At this year's CES event in January and in the weeks to follow, a number of wearable device companies offered up new sleep tracking devices or sleep-related features for their existing wares. Basis added sleep tracking features to its wristworn device. Withings revealed a new bedside sleep tracking device. And Apple reportedly added a sleep expert to its rumored iWatch team.