The wearable is worn across a user's chest and signals when to turn over using vibrations.

Philips unveils connected sleep apnea wearable NightBalance

By Laura Lovett
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Royal Philips’ new sleep apnea product is ditching the traditional CPAP mask. Dubbed NightBalance, the system instead relies on a soft wearable device that is worn across the user’s chest when they go to sleep. 

The device gives off a vibration alerting the user when they should change sleep positions. The tool is wireless and connected to a companion app, which monitors use. It also give both patients and providers access to data through its cloud-based system.

This new launch comes a little over a year after the Dutch tech giant acquired the startup NightBalance, which was working on a wearable for sleep apnea. Before the acquisition, NightBalance, also a Dutch company, scored $13.2 million

WHY IT MATTERS 

Sleep apnea is a common condition, which impacts around 18 million American adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Some lifestyle interventions such as weight loss, cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking can help the severity of the condition. It is linked to hypertension, heart disease and memory problems, according to the foundation. 

THE LARGER TREND 

This isn’t Philip’s first go-round in the sleep space. More than six years ago the company included wireless connectivity in its CPAP machines. This came with the news of its companion app SleepMapper. A 2014 study found that the product boosted CPAP adherence by 22%.

Another big name in connected sleep apnea technology is ResMed. Last year this company teamed up with Alphabet subsidiary Verily to form a new venture focused on developing sleep apnea treatments and connected health products. 

More consumer-focused companies are also starting to enter the sleep apnea care space. For example, Withingsa French company best known for its smart watches and scales, 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. 

ON THE RECORD 

“We are always looking to evolve our solutions to help people living with sleep apnea take control of their health,” Mark D’Angelo, sleep OSA business leader at Philips, said in a statement. “The right sleep therapy varies person-to-person, and for those who suffer from positional obstructive sleep apnea, it can be defeating when traditional therapies don’t meet their specific needs. With Philips NightBalance, positional obstructive sleep apnea patients now have a non-invasive and comfortable treatment option that can be successful, resulting in long term therapy adherence.”