With new feature, Withings' sleep sensor moves towards sleep apnea space

The breathing disturbance monitoring features are now available to all Withings Sleep owners.
By Dave Muoio
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French consumer health device maker Withings has updated its sleep sensor mat with new capabilities that track breathing disturbances throughout a night’s sleep and could eventually warn users of sleep apnea.

Available through a free update, the feature builds on the Withings Sleep’s primary function of monitoring sleep cycles, heart rate and snoring, and then displaying scores and suggestions to users through the companion Health Mate App.

The breathing disturbances feature uses respiration rate, heart rate, motion and snoring to log any events through the night. These disturbances are chronologically mapped, rated from high to low and accompanied by educational content related to breathing disturbances that may need professional care.

While the company notes that this new feature can be used as a tool to better identify and understand sleep apnea, it also mentioned in the announcement that it will be pursuing a dedicated sleep apnea detection function to the Withings Sleep by the end of the year, pending FDA and CE regulatory approval.

Why it matters

Four in five of the 22 million Americans with sleep apnea are not aware that they have the condition and often attribute it to snoring, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Outside of daytime drowsiness and low energy, the condition can also complicate an individual’s cardiovascular health, diabetes, weight and mental health.

“Despite its prevalence and serious consequences, sleep apnea goes largely undetected as current tests are confined to the clinical and sleep lab environment,” Eric Carreel, president of Withings, said in a statement. “By allowing people to track the intensity of breathing disturbances, we are helping them identify warning signs early. This announcement is very important as it furthers our mission to bring medical grade analytics into the home and is the first step towards the medical certification of sleep apnea detection which we aim for by the end of this year.”

What’s the trend

Along with its sleep sensor mat, Withings (which Carreel purchased back from Nokia last year) also supports sleep tracking through its wearable devices. With that being said, many of its health competitors, both startups like Beddr and larger companies like ResMed, have ongoing sleep apnea projects — a forehead-worn sensor for the former, and an analytics-focused partnership with Verily — not to mention a line of apnea-focused products — for the latter.