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The verdict is in: We all need better sleep. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than 60 million Americans suffer from sleep problems that negatively impact everything from mood and mental clarity to job performance and dietary choices.
But, as is so often the case today, technology is creating solutions — and disrupting an entrenched industry.
That’s the story of the Eight Smart Mattress, which made its marketplace debut late last year. It taps into the customizable power of data and the Internet of Things to help people get better sleep. It was also designed to be a supremely comfortable sleeping surface based on quantitative data from thousands of Eight’s earliest adopters.
It seems Eight is getting it right; according to the online sleep product review site Sleep Sherpa’s assessment of the Eight Smart Mattress, “This is how a well-designed mattress should feel.”
The Problem: Inadequate Sleep
Matteo Franceschetti, a serial entrepreneur in New York City, is the man behind the mattress. He said the initial spark came from his own difficulties sleeping. With a background in launching successful startups, he saw an opportunity for innovation.
"There were no real products to track your sleep in a seamless way,” Franceschetti said, explaining that people need consistent metrics about their personal sleep patterns in order to make real and measurable improvements on their quality of sleep. So in 2014, he teamed up with fellow entrepreneur Massimo Andreasi Bassi, who has a background in big data, and together they founded Eight.
It would become the first tech/mattress startup, a true “sleep innovation company,” according to Eight’s literature. And in a marketplace flooded with mattress startups, Eight really does seem to offer something innovative. By using real data to design products for better sleep, Eight is positioned to revolutionize not just the mattress industry but perhaps also the way we think about our whole sleep experience.
Solution No. 1: A Technological Foundation
The company’s first product was the Sleep Tracker, a “smart” mattress cover that uses sensors and heating elements to monitor quality of sleep and regulate the bed and bedroom environment in order to enable optimal rest.
Data is collected, analyzed and delivered via the Eight mobile app, enabling users to distinguish their sleep patterns over given periods and to create a personalized “sleep profile” that’ll help them optimize their nighttime rest. This data can be shared with platforms like Apple’s Health Kit and Google Fit to build a more comprehensive health profile.
“We are able to track your sleep, your heart rate [and] your respiratory rate with no effort,” said Franceschetti, who is now CEO of Eight. “So you just go to bed as you did last night — you have to do nothing.”
The Sleep Tracker was a success, selling more than 6,000 units through crowd-funding and preorders, according to a Techcrunch article published last March. That helped Eight secure the financing it needed to create its next big thing.
Solution No. 2: A Smart Mattress
While they designed the Sleep Tracker to cover any mattress, Franceschetti and Bassi quickly realized they could offer people more than just new data gleaned from sleeping on an old mattress.
So they studied more than 1.8 million hours of data collected from Sleep Trackers and set about developing and designing the Eight Smart Mattress, which is now their primary product. It’s built with a whopping four types of foam that are strategically layered to provide consistent support and optimum comfort, temperature, weight distribution, pressure relief, breathability and firmness for restful sleep.
The Eight Smart Mattress is topped with the Sleep Tracker, making it a fully integrated piece of sleep technology that’s unique among today’s many mattress offerings.
In addition to the sleep tracking capabilities, the mattress provides couples with two sets of controls and separate heating zones for each side of the bed. When synced with other connected devices, it becomes the heart of a “smart bedroom,” wherein lights can be switched off and on, room temperature adjusted, and alarms fine-tuned to ensure optimal rest. These capabilities aren’t just fancy extras, though — they’re part of a comprehensive product whose specific purpose is to simplify and enhance all aspects of the sleep routine.
For instance, “In the thirty-minute window [before the alarm], Eight picks the moment of lightest sleep to wake you up,” Franceschetti said, “so you don’t wake up groggy.”
The Eight Smart Mattress can even shut off lights and lock doors elsewhere in a home upon sensing the occupants dozing off, providing sleep-conducive peace of mind. Hours later, the mattress can automatically start coffee brewing as soon as they awake.
Eight is just getting started. The company is using all of the anonymized sleep data from its users to constantly improve its entire range of sleep products and accessories.
“We’re on a 10-, 15-year journey,” Franceschetti said. “This is just the first of multiple products that we are going to launch to help you sleep better.”
"What a difference a good mattress makes! I sleep much deeper (over 25% of my sleep is now REM sleep), the aches and pains in the hips are completely gone, so is my shoulder pain (I can only sleep on the side)."
- H. Logan, Eight Customer
"When you lay on the mattress it has a very consistent feel throughout and you don't get the sense that you are hitting a particular layer. This is how a well designed mattress should feel."
"The sinkage and hug mesh well with the levels of support and pressure relief. The mattress creates a nice combination feel between responsiveness and memory foam hug."