I've long been interested in anti-snoring techniques and technology, because I suffer from sleep apnea. I've been using a CPAP machine for a year now, and I've found it very helpful. However, this Japanese invention creeps me out! Japan Trends reports:
This week saw the 19th International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held at Tokyo Big Sight displaying the world’s most advanced, innovative and sometimes plain bizarre robots.
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Dr Kabe from Wasaeda Univeristy’s Kabe Lab in the Faculty of Human Science demonstrated a number of different concepts that all centered around providing care or comfort with the aid of technology. One such idea was the “Jukusui-kun” (Deep Sleep), a robotic pillow like device in the shape of a polar bear that looks at helping the more than 2 million patients who suffer “Sleep Apnea Syndrome” in Japan (those who suffer breathing difficulties while sleeping ... chronic snorers!).
Dr Kabe’s Jukusuri-Kun works through the person asleep wearing a similarly cute pulse-oxygen meter attached to the hand which sends readings of the amount of oxygen in the blood to a terminal running a program with the persons vital statistics pre-programmed in. To eliminate the intrusion of wires preventing a good sleep the team also developed a cordless technology which uses the human bodies natural conductive properties to communicate with a conductive sheet that lies under the bed sheet. The pillow itself also houses a microphone which analyses the decibel level of the snorer. When the oxygen level decreases in the patient resulting in the snore level increasing it triggers the bear-pillow’s hand to move towards the sleepers face. Gently brushing the face causes the person to then turn from lying on their back to moving onto their side, a more conducive postion for a sound, snoreless nights sleep.
There's more at the link. Here's a video clip of the 'device' in operation.
A robotic polar bear that tickles your face? I want to say "Now I've heard everything!", but I know that's not true, because it won't be long before someone's over-fertile imagination comes up with something to top this! Personally, I can only say that the thought of an apex predator tickling my face - even in robotic, playful form - is not calculated to lull me into peaceful sleep!