AI pillows draw much attention in South Korea

2023.03.09 12:22:01 | 2023.03.09 12:23:27

Pure-Lex anti-snoring pillow [Photo provided by Pure-Lex]이미지 확대

Pure-Lex anti-snoring pillow [Photo provided by Pure-Lex]



The so-called “sleep tech” market, a combination of sleep and technology to improve a person’s sleeping pattern, is growing in popularity and anti-snoring, sleep apnea pillows fitted with artificial intelligence technology are emerging as a “blue chips.”

There are currently three startups that have introduced pillow products incorporating AI technology - Pure-Lex, 10minds Co. and Maetel, according to the industry on Wednesday. Expectations are high that these companies will be competitive on the global stage as foreign countries are also looking closely at their technologies.

Pure-Lex, a South Korean startup engaged in healthcare business, started selling in October a pillow that’s linked to a palm-sized device fitted with AI software that deep-learns breathing data during sleep. If a user, who has snoring or sleep apnea symptoms, sleeps with the device near the pillow, it adjusts its height and size with an airbag and turns the user’s head to the side to secure an airway.

According to Global Market Insights Inc., a global market research and consulting service provider, the global sleep tech market, which was worth $11 billion in 2019, is expected to grow to $32.1 billion by 2026.

Pure-Lex and 10minds products have AI software devices on the external of their pillows, while Maetel products have them inside. A sensor detects not only the sound of snoring but also when breathing temporary stops due to sleep apnea as the AI software deep-learns the breathing data of a sleeping person.

“The ‘Smart Motion Snoring Pillow PU-5000‘ is fitted with four types of sensors to accurately measure the pulse, movement and pressure of sleepers,” said Kim Kyung-soo, chief executive officer of Pure-Lex. “We are continuously upgrading the software so that the performance will continue to improve.”

[Photo provided by 10minds]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by 10minds]



According to Pure-Lex, clinical tests show that the pillow, reduced the snoring intensity and sound of sleepers by 71 percent and reduced the frequency of sleep apnea by more than 50 percent. As the company has joined hands with U.S. tech company Nvidia Corp. to advance the software, the performance of pillows scheduled to be released within this year is expected to improve further.

“We are pushing to connect with Nvidia’s AI platform for more accurate analysis,” Kim said. “We are going through the clinical tests of these pillows to obtain the first medical device certification in South Korea.”

10minds’ “Motion Pillow” is also attracting attention for its high performance and quality. Motion Pillow, launched in 2021, won the CES Innovation Award three times at the U.S. International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that year, in 2022 and this year. This pillow consists of an AI motion system that analyzes snoring and activates an airbag; an acoustic sensor that receives snoring sounds; and a pressure sensor that detects the position of the head. An app has also been added to manage sleep data.

“Users can monitor their sleep not only through sleep data but also through weekly, monthly and annual data,” said an official from 10minds.

According to 10minds, a user test, conducted with a leading domestic sleep research institute to prove the pillow’s performance, shows that 93.7 percent of that tested the product experienced snoring reduction, and the reduction rate confirmed through sleep polysomnography was 44.4 percent on average.

Maetel’s “ZEREMA,” first released in 2021, is also receiving much attention. ZEREMA can raise and lower its height by up to 15 centimeters with an air cushion both automatically and manually. The height can be adjusted in up to six steps until the head gets tilted. When the snoring stops, it returns to the original set height. Some observers, however, raised concerns about electromagnetic waves that might come from the AI processor inside the pillow.

By Kim Si-gyun and Yoon Yeon-hae

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]