First Look

Kokoon headphones monitor your brain waves to induce deep sleep

kokoons in the morning
Credit: Kokoon

A light sleeper's biggest nightmare is hearing a car alarm going off in the middle of the night. If you have problems going to sleep (and staying asleep), these wireless noise-canceling headphones might offer a new, innovative solution.

The Kokoon headphones are the first to incorporate electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors to detect the electrical activity in your brain throughout your nightly sleeping ritual. It uses this information to determine which sleeping phase you’re experiencing and then functions accordingly.

“We’re the first consumer device using EEG, the gold standard way of measuring sleep. It’s what sleep clinics and academics use,” said Kokoon CEO Tim Antos during a demo.

When you first plop your head down on the pillow, the headphones play relaxing soundscapes that slowly fade when it senses you’ve fallen asleep. When you reach R.E.M. deep sleep, the headphones automatically turn on ambient white noise in conjunction with noise-canceling technology to mask outside noise disturbances. Finally, the headphones also determine the best period in your natural sleep cycle to wake you up at your preset alarm time.

The impact on you: Because you wear them on your head, the Kokoon sensors can more precisely determine when you drift off to dreamland and what exactly is going on in your brain while you sleep. This could be much more effective than activity-tracking apps that simply sense how often your bed moves during the night. You can view the sleep data the headphones collect on Kokoon’s free Android and iOS app. You can use the same app to select a soundscape and set a wake-up alarm.

app at festival 2 Kokoon

“Falling asleep is really personal,” Antos said. “We wanted to open the door to trying different techniques and to give you the ability to learn what actually works.”

As much as they may help solve sleeping issues, the Kokoon headphones are not special sleep-only devices. They can also be used as regular Bluetooth headphones. The makers have partnered with Onkyo to ensure that the audio quality component is up to snuff.

Kokoon first launched on Kickstarter on May 11 and quickly reached its fundraising goal of $100,000 in 36 hours. So far, the makers have raised almost $440,000 towards making a better night’s sleep a reality. The retail price is $319 but you can order them now for $189 on Kickstarter. According to Antos, the plan is to start shipping these headphones to Kickstarter backers in February 2016 and to hit the general market later that year.

train 2400x1600 Kokoon
Kokoon

Designed for maximum comfort during sleep

Going to bed wearing headphones might sound counterintuitive to falling and staying asleep, which is why the makers of Kokoon have gone through more than 200 prototypes to get the ergonomic design just right.

They’ve placed all the EEG sensors on the headband to make the ear cups as low-profile as possible, and they included cool gel cushioning to relieve pressure on the ears and to avoid trapping heat and sweat. 

In addition, the makers are using a portion of their Kickstarter funds to conduct 10,000 additional hours of user-comfort testing. The headphones have also been designed to fold up inside a small rectangular case so that travelers’ can store them easily and take them anywhere they go.

old early protypes Kokoon

Unlocking the possibilities of the sleeping brain

Even though Kokoon’s core proposition is using audio techniques to help light sleepers fall and stay asleep, the makers believe that their headphones can also be used to get a better sense of how sleep and sound affects the brain.

As part of their Kickstarter campaign, they are offering a developer package that includes access to Kokoon’s API and SDK for anyone interested in creating apps or programs to explore the benefits of sleep-hacking meditation, sleep learning and polyphasic sleeping (sleeping several times a day), as well as for anyone looking to create music that reacts to your brainwaves or that can stimulate lucid dreaming.

“Because it’s a connected device, there are a lot of exciting possibilities for triggering other things and waking up in different ways,” Antos said. Imagine the coffeemaker turning on as soon as your brain tells you it’s time for a hot cup of joe in the morning.

This story, "Kokoon headphones monitor your brain waves to induce deep sleep" was originally published by TechHive.

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