We all know how important sleep is, yet due to various pressures and as a result of many health issues, many of us don’t get enough of it on a regular basis. Entire industries are dedicated to sleep aids ranging from medicines and natural remedies to new high-tech options. Now, a new type of option for sleep aid has been released, and it’s simultaneously one of the creepiest and the most intriguing sleep aids on the market. Called “Somnox,” the new device is a cross between a body pillow and an animatronic doll. I can’t decide if I’m repulsed by it or want to cuddle it and give it a name.
Somnox is like a firm stuffed animal with a flexible robotic skeleton and circuit board for a heart. It’s a big kidney shape made of mattress foam designed specifically to be spooned. This cuddle-able shape allows the pillow to best detect its human cuddler’s breathing rate, and match it with its own rhythmic expansion and contraction. This rhythmic ‘breathing’ is supposed to calm and soothe users to sleep. Somnox can also play its own unnatural heartbeat through speakers, or any other sounds or music the user chooses. Of course, there’s a companion mobile app that can be used to track sleep data and control the audio output of the robot.
Somnox was developed by four Netherlands-based robotics engineers. One of the engineers, Julian Jagtenbeg, heightens the creep factor of the pillowbot by referring to its creation in terms of birth, not design:
As four robotics engineers, we wanted to create a soft robot that could solve a personal issue: That of sleep deprivation. This was the moment the Somnox sleep robot was born.
Their Kickstarter page claims that Somnox can help users fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and “reach deeper levels of relaxation.” Its creators claim the creepy bean-bot can “soothe body and mind, helping you feel more relaxed and energized.” The promotional videos show users smiling and cuddling the pillow as if it were a beloved child or some orb-shaped pet reminiscent of a Tribble.
Robots have been appearing in more of our daily experiences lately, so it’s only natural that they would soon end up in our beds (specifically for sleeping, that is.) The Somnox pillow might technically be a robot whose basis for existence is to listen to you breathe, but it’s distinctly pillow-like design and ergonomic shape make it much less intimidating and much more familiar. Could Somnox be the first in a long line of robotic sleep aids? Why not make it human-shaped? While I’m sure this pillow can help many individuals achieve a good night’s sleep, bringing a robot to bed might be too weird for some people. Would you cuddle a robot to help you sleep?