Google has some great news for individuals living with sleep apnea. Verily Life Sciences, the health and life sciences division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is now throwing Google’s massive budget and resources towards the development of a new public company concerned solely with the study of sleep apnea and other sleep breathing disorders. The goal of this new company is to develop new robust treatments for sleep apnea and help better diagnose the millions of people living with sleep apnea without knowing it. Can Google revolutionize the sleep apnea treatment world just as it has the internet?

Let’s hope so. While CPAP machines remain the most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea, many people find that CPAP masks are too uncomfortable or awkward to sleep in, resulting in them neglecting their treatment and often ending up in the hospital due to sleep apnea-related complications. Aside from individuals who have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, there remains an estimated additional 17.5 million Americans who are living with sleep apnea and don’t know it yet. That’s what Verily wants to change.

Verily is partnering with health providers and CPAP manufacturer ResMed in order to find ways of better diagnosing sleep apnea before it causes more serious health complications. In an interview with CNBC, Verily’s chief medical officer Jessica Mega says that the company’s first priority is to educate the public about the prevalence and dangers of sleep apnea, then begin working towards treatment paradigms.  “The most important piece is really understanding and raising awareness around what a big problem this is,” said. “And then it’s to identify people earlier and in the long-run really help this group.”

Google isn’t the first major Silicon Valley tech firm to jump into the sleep products and services market. Apple has been rolling out sleep trackers and sensors over the past year, and even Facebook seems to have been getting more and more interested in how its users sleep. Could sleep science be the next big tech boom?

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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