These IITians say ‘stop losing sleep over sleep,’ develop smart sleep assistant SleepDoc+
Incubated by IIT-Kharagpur and Qualcomm, mBreath Technologies’ first offering SleepDoc+ determines the sleep quality of the user, analyses and provides insightful data. The product is all set to hit the market by the end of the year.
At a Glance
Startup: mBreath Technologies
Founders: Aurobinda Routray, Laxmi Kant Tiwari and Ritwik Dash
Year it was founded: 2017
Where it is based: Kharagpur, West Bengal
Sector: Health Tech
The problem it solves: The AI-enabled wireless multi-person sleep assistant monitors a person’s health and provides analytics
Funding raised: Raised a seed fund from DST (Department of Science & Technology) by the Government of India. It has also been incubated at STEP, IIT Kharagpur, and recently by Qualcomm.
Most of us are aware that detecting vital health signs is a highly-promising approach for medical surveillance, emergency, and security. But still, nothing much has been done to curb various accidents caused due to sleep deprivation.
To combat the problem surrounding sleep and sleep-related disorders, Laxmi Kant Tiwari set out on developing a smart sleep assistant when he came across an unfortunate incident. A bus carrying several passengers crashed into a bridge and fell into a river, which led to the loss of many lives.
“The investigation later revealed that the bus driver was drowsy, and hadn’t slept for two nights straight. Sadly, my friend’s relatives were one of the victims in this incident,” says Tiwari.
Common situation being neglected?
The incident had a huge impact on Tiwari that led to the idea of inventing a smart sleep assistant. His company mBreath Technologies is a smart home healthcare company, which provides Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based wireless home health monitoring devices for diagnosing and monitoring health status.
mBreath’s SleepDoc+ is an AI-enabled wireless multi-person sleep assistant. It uses ultra-low power FMCW RADAR to detect vital physiological parameters like the respiration rate and heart rate of multiple people simultaneously from a distance of 3-5 meters.
The IoT-based solution determines the sleep quality of the user, and also sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, etc.
The people behind the idea
mBreath’s core team consists of five members. Laxmi Kant (27), an expert in embedded systems, started his research on finding out the solution for a smart sleep sense system. He took the guidance of Aurobinda Routray (50), a technical mentor, having over 20 years of experience in the domain of biomedical engineering and cognitive science in the research labs of IIT Kharagpur.
Laxmi Kant met Ritwik Dash (25) when he went to pursue his PhD in human monitoring systems. The idea of a smart sleep sense system was enough to persuade him to handle the statistical analysis domain, along with the business model for the venture.
“Along the way, we welcomed Alok Mishra (24) and Anurag Kumar (23), who had specialised in technical and graphic designing respectively. Both were interns under Routray,” says Tiwari.
How does SleepDoc+ work?
SleepDoc+ the device integrates itself with SleepDoc+ app via Bluetooth, and provides personalised sleep profile for individuals. The AI algorithms processes the whole set of data collected over a period of time to provide extended health analytics. The analysis indicates a detailed weekly and monthly health assessment to improve the overall lifestyle of a person. The device continuously monitors the user and helps in the early detection and prevention of sleep-related disorders.
After analysing the user’s sleep score based on various parameters for over a period of time, the device suggests them to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle. In case of any parameter variations near to the critical value, it automatically connects the user to the nearby doctor for diagnosis, as per the location.
It also helps the user understand both the quantity of their sleep, i.e., how many hours they slept, and most importantly, the quality of sleep.
The team has recently shifted its technology to Qualcomm, and is five-to-six months away from launching the product in the market.
The team has set the cost for the single person monitoring system at around $129, and that of the multi-person monitoring device at around $199.
Besides, it has also considered the geographical and demographical factors, and built the business model as B2B2C. “The pre-orders for the device will directly be made available through crowdfunding sites, and customers can also purchase it via ecommerce platforms as well as on the company’s website. People can also avail it on a rental basis with a per month subscription charge of $9.99,” says Tiwari.
To access features like free data storage, AI analytics, and auto-connect with the sleep doctors, the company plans to provide subscription-based premium services, with a charge of $3.99 per month.
It has so far raised around Rs 47 lakh by various methods such as winning several accolades and many competitions across the country, which includes a seed fund from DST (Department of Science & Technology) by the Government of India. It has also been incubated at STEP, IIT Kharagpur.
Opportunistic market landscape
According to an Allied Market Research report, The Global Remote Patient Monitoring Market size was $703 million in 2015, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.0 percent to reach $2,130 million by 2022.
Asked if wearable devices create a market challenge for them, Tiwari says: “Sleep is a function of heart rate and respiration rate. This rules out our competition from the wearable category, which provides sleep quality based on heart rate only.”
Other players in the home health monitoring segment and diagnostics segment include Philips, Raybaby, Withings, Abbott Labs, and Resmed among many others.
So what sets them apart?
“What makes us unique is there is no such device in the market that provides multi-person wireless monitoring. Apart from that, with a single product, you can avail the benefits of all medical tests, and get the report the very next day,” he says.
According to a recent media report, a pressing sleep pattern statistics from Fitbit reveals that Indian’s are very poor sleepers in the world, clocking in an average 6.55 hours of sleep per day, which is far lower than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. Developed nations like the USA and the UK have also been witnessing the problem for a while now.
“The lifestyle of people is also changing rapidly, and there is a need to monitor it continuously. Our vision is to provide this smart home health companion to every household, in order to prevent a person from becoming a patient,” says Tiwari.