Finally, a Reason You Might Actually Want a Smartwatch

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 5 2014 7:17 PM

Apple's Smartwatch May Help You Sleep Better

466569819-stray-dog-sleeps-on-a-footpath-at-rosa-khutor-mountain_1
By hiring a sleep expert, Apple may be hinting at some of the features and functions the company is working on for its smartwatch.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

For all the rumors about Apple's smartwatch, no one outside Cupertino knows yet exactly what the company is going for. One of its new hires, according to reporting by 9To5Mac, is providing some clues, though. Roy J.E.M Raymann is a researcher from Philips who studies sleep. Specifically, he looks at how sensors, wearables, and other non-medical methods can help people improve their sleep habits and wake up more rested.

Apple wouldn't be the first to incorporate sleep-monitoring tools into a mobile or wearable device. Sleep trackers are already a staple of mobile apps like SleepCycle, fitness wearables like FitBit, and even bed sensors like Beddit. Yet for all the iOS apps that take advantage of the accelerometers and gyroscopes in iDevices to collect various sorts of biometric data, Apple has yet to release a native product that does fitness or lifestyle tracking. The company's expected smartwatch, often called iWatch for lack of better name rumors, could fill that hole by monitoring vital signs or things like hydration level.

Advertisement

Tech companies have yet to convince consumers that they need a smartwatch for things like checking email or text messages, which they can already do on a smartphone. But the success of the FitBit and Nike's Fuelband suggests there's a real market for wearables that unobtrusively monitor your activity while you go about other tasks, like running or snoozing. A wristband is a lot easier to sleep with than a phone. 

The possibilites for Raymann's role go beyond just clocking our hours spent unconscious. An ideal sleep app might involve suggesting optimal wakeup times based on your sleep cycle, recommendations for sleeping while traveling, and more. Apple has been doing a lot of hiring in the realms of biometric sensing and wearable devices lately, but the prospect of better night's rest may be the long-awaited Apple watch's most compelling use case yet. 

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?