Snoring is the sound that occurs when the airway is partially obstructed. It’s an indicator of poor sleep and could affect the quality of sleep for a partner, who is constantly waking to move the snorer into a different position in an attempt to quell the harsh sounds.
“Often a very small movement or a very gentle push will stop the snoring. The problem is that it is very likely that after a few minutes they will start snoring again and nobody has the patience to continuously overnight just nudge or push their partner very gently to stop their snoring,” said Behrouz Hariri, co-founder of Smart Nora.
The solution is to automate the nudging process, according to Hariri, who has developed a device dubbed Nora. Its job is to listen for snores and give a nudge before either the snorer or the partner wake up.
“Nora is actually listening for volumes of snoring that are below the sensitivity of their partner. So just before snoring is getting loud enough to wake them up, Nora does the gently push or the gentle movement of the pillow and that, in turn, reduces the volume of snoring then both partners can actually have continuous sleep,” Hariri added.
It works like this. A bedside monitor listens for snores. When the snores get loud enough, the monitor wirelessly activates a mini pump that slowly inflates a mat that his placed underneath the pillow. This, in turn, shifts the pillow just enough to stimulate the airway muscles and quiet down the snoring. All this happens without waking up the snorer or his or her partner.
Hariri and his team have been testing their prototype over the past couple of months. He says Nora works well as evidenced by the fact that their test subjects very often refuse to return the prototype after the test is complete. “We have made a limited number of prototypes to test on different users and taking it back from someone after a week or two of sleeping is not an easy task,” he said.
Along with saving relationships, the device could have important health implications. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, snoring or severe sleep apnea is an indicator and in some cases leads to increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, depression and diabetes.
The Nora makers are currently in the middle of a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter where they have raised nearly $375,000 (USD) to date.