“There are multiple pillars of wellness,” says Raphael Auphan, product manager at Withings. “One is exercise, the other is nutrition, and the third one is sleep.” In the wearable wellness-device market, that third pillar is so far the least examined. Withings was early to fitness tracking; the French company released a smart scale in 2009 that could sync weight to an app via Wi-Fi. Its new Aura alarmclock system goes on sale this spring, and represents a big move beyond tallying up figures (steps, pounds, hours slept) to actually offering help. It’s designed to appeal to the very laziest among us: Slip a fabric-covered sensor under the mattress and open an app, and the Aura gets to work.
That sensor measures movements, so over time the Aura learns the optimal time to rouse a user from sleep (within a dictated window). Even more futuristic is its use of colored light to hack our alertness: At night, the orb glows a deep, comforting orange, like a setting sun; in the morning, it slowly turns on a blue light that Harvard scientists say can suppress melatonin. “You don’t have to do anything or wear anything,” Auphan says. “It’s like a small electronic friend on the bedside table.”