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Withings Aura uses light, sound, and science to help you sleep better (hands-on)

Withings Aura uses light, sound, and science to help you sleep better (hands-on)

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Withings Aura 1024px
Withings Aura 1024px

Withings has a scale, a blood pressure monitor, and an activity bracelet — now it's trying to help us all get a little shut-eye between all that activity. This week at CES it announced the Aura, a $299 device designed to help you fall asleep faster, sleep better, and wake up easier. It comes in two parts, one a small pad that goes underneath your pillow to monitor you while you sleep and one a light that sits on your bedside table. The pad senses your heart rate, movements, and breathing, while the light also scans your room for noise, light, and temperature.

Like plenty of other devices, the Aura collects and shares data with your smartphone, showing you how you slept and what helped or hindered you through the night. But the great-looking, vaguely sci-fi light on your bedside table will also play soothing music to help you fall asleep, and use light and sound to wake you up at the perfect time. Withings says the Aura is constantly adapting to your sleep patterns, even in real time, and will always wake you up at the perfect moment in your sleep cycle — as we've found with devices like the Jawbone Up, which can make waking up in the morning far better.

The Aura will be out this spring for $299, and if you're already using Withings to track your weight, your activity, and maybe even your baby, adding sleep to the mix is a no-brainer.

Withings Aura hands-on images


Update: We just spent some time with the Aura, and it's clear Withings is attempting to dive much deeper into sleep than we've seen consumer-friendly devices attempt before. The small pad uses pressure sensors to determine both your breathing and heart rates, and leverages that data to to provide a wealth of analytics behind just how much time you've spent with your head against the pillow. Much like Basis is now doing, the Aura breaks down sleep cycles: how much time you've spent in light, deep, or the all-important REM sleep.

A sleek, touch-sensitive lava lamp

As for the lamp itself, it's both a sleep aid and a sleek, touch-sensitive lava lamp. The device glows a shade of red to help you get to sleep — Withings says the wavelength of light helps the body generate melatonin — and for waking it shines a glowing blue. Different shades, from purple to yellow, are available at the user's choice. A standalone iPhone app lets users do things like set wake-up times and view their sleep and environmental data, though the information will also be surfaced in the standard Withings app as well for a bigger picture look at your health (Android compatibility is coming down the line, and the device will be able to connect over legacy Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, or Wi-Fi).

In a clever twist, the lamp portion of the device can also play music and serves as a standalone alarm clock even if you aren't using your smartphone. The lamp is sensitive to touch, and you can turn the alarm on or off with a tap, and set the time for your next alarm by sliding your finger up the side of the device. There's a lot of functionality built into the Aura, particularly when you can use it as a replacement for your existing alarm clock, and if helps with getting to sleep as much as Withings claims it could be worth every penny of its $299 price.

Additional reporting by Bryan Bishop.