Last week a part of our business team was in Japan for the CES Unveiled Tokyo.
It was the first edition of CES in Tokyo. As there were only 10 exhibitors, including the NeuroOn by Intelclinic, the event was an exclusive opportunity to approach the Japanese market. The event gathered about 1000 visitors at Grand Hyatt Tokyo.
The event began with presentations that pointed out that the 2015 will be the year of IoT. We are happy that the NeuroOn launch will be a part of this year.
On the photos you can see our booth. We came with w few prototypes of the NeuroOn, and Gary Shapiro, the President of CEA (association organizing the CES) took the chance to try on the NeuroOn! Moreover, our guest could see their brainwaves on the monitor thanks to the NeuroOn.
The purpose of our trip was to get to know the Japanese culture, and create a long-term strategy for the NeuroOn in Japan, as it is one of our focus markets. We realized that the Japanese market is demanding, and we need to prepare better for the launch there. We already have a Japanese version of our website. You can change the language in the upper right corner. There will be also Japanese versions of our apps, and special packaging for the region.
Our stay in Japan was full of inspirational business ideas, that we have already started to turn into action.
Also, we would like express our gratitude to all the companies and media for showing interest and support.
When Ola, Janusz, and Kamil were in Tokyo, the development team kept working on the NeuroOn. The Hardware and Software Teams collaborated to activate and test the newest PCBs we received form the factory. Some members of our team tested them also at night.
We have received a number of mock ups and prototypes, and now we now that the silicon PCB box is the best and final decision.
There are two issues related to placement of the new silicon PCB box, that we have to cope with.
The first one is the length of flex strings between the 3 parts of the PCB box. The proper length is needed to define the final shape of the sensor strip, and vice versa.
The other one is making the soft foam and the PCB box stick to the forehead and collect signals of good quality. Together with our design studio we are creating and testing different solutions for the back (and possibly the additional front) strap. All the time we keep the user’s comfort in mind. Our experience from CES in Las Vegas and Tokyo showed that softer foam is crucial for your comfort. And thanks to the adjustments we are making now, the NeuroOn will provide high quality of signal and user experience.
As we mentioned in the previous update we have already prepared a detailed timeline of the work of our team. Now we are consulting with our subcontractors in order to receive their time estimates. As soon as we gather all the information, we will post the final timeline of the NeuroOn. Please, be patient. The process is very complex. The NeuroOn uses innovative technology that requires unique technologies to be produced. We are talking with factories and analyzing their possibilities. We will make the final decision in the next few weeks.
We are coming with a long awaited update – with pictures of the latest NeuroOn prototypes we’ve just got in the office!
When it comes to this week’s activities, we are making adjustments to the latest PCB box, and simultaneously prototyping a compatible mask that is adapted to mass production. Thanks to a Gantt chart that we are giving final touches to, we can optimize the development process smartly.
The Jet Lag App is working independently of the NeuroOn. Now we are testing it and making improvements based on the tests. At the same time Robert is intensively working on corrections of the app – NeuroOn mask cooperation.
Michał is creating a tool - our signal-workflow platform we decided to call Fountain. Fountain will significantly improve gathering, organizing, processing, 'mining' and monitoring biological signals. This will greatly affect our performance in developing better algorithms and allow seamless collaboration between our teams. It is a big project that will be crucial for long-term development.
Thank You! And Please Help Us
We got a lot of messages from you suggesting some improvements in the NeuroOn, and notes on your own experience with polyphasic-sleep, and lucid dreaming. Thanks a lot for that! We would like to ask you for more! We had a few important development findings thanks to them.
Not only you are a part of the project as backers, but also most of you have unique knowledge and experience in sleep-related subjects. We can’t google the quality information you are able to share with us. We would like to consult the NeuroOn features with you. If you have something you would like to share with us, or have a blog, or can consult a subject connected to the NeuroOn functionalities, please send us a private message.
This week was full of hard work, but we got the effects, and have so much motivation for the next one.
Today we would like to show you a different kind of post. Please let us know in the comments section, whether you find it interesting, and would like to read more of that kind of posts once in a while.
As some of you probably know, we run a blog at https://neuroon.com/blog/. We used to post development updates od Kickstarter and posts on medical aspects of sleep, jet lag, and other NeuroOn-related topics on our blog.
When the fully functional NeuroOn is delivered to you, there will be no development updates, and we will communicate with you on our blog. We thought we will post the same updates on Kickstarter, and on the blog, so that you can easily find them on the blog in the future. It made us think that maybe you would like to read our blog posts on Kickstarter too.
Please take a look at the post and infographic below :)
Physiological Aspects of Sleep – What Is Going On With Our Body When We Sleep
In order to examine the quality of sleep doctors use a machine called a polisomnograph. It records brain waves, eye movements and muscle tension. It is crucial to record all these parameters to distinguish sleep from awakening and to differentiate between the sleep phases. Based on these three variables, we divide sleep into two major phases – REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). Together, the REM and NREM phases are called the cycle of sleep. This lasts on average 90-110 minutes.
To be more precise, we can divide the NREM phase into 4 subphases. In the 1st subphase we can see slow eye movements. The 1st and 2nd subphases are sometimes called shallow sleep phases, whereas the 3rd and 4th subphases are called stable or deep sleep phases. Response threshold is the lowest in subphase 1 and the highest in subphase 4, which means that it is easy to wake us up in the shallow (1st and 2nd NREM subphases) and quite difficult in deep sleep (3rd and 4th NREM subphases). As we progress through the NREM subphases the antigravitational muscles tension (which enables us to hold a vertical position) fades.
The REM phase, in which we can observe rapid eye movements, is quite different. It occupies only 20-25 % of our night sleep time, but up to 85% of dreams occur in this phase. What is interesting is that the great majority of these dreams are completely chaotic, eerie and relating to situations which are highly unlikely to happen. For example, escaping from a chasing pack of tigers or jumping from a waterfall, whereas during the NREM phase dreams are more likely to contemplate situations which actually happened, or probably will happen in the future – for example our plans or our past. Some scientists presume that REM dreams are present as the inheritance from our ancestors, in order to let our brain analyze and teach itself how to behave in situations which may put our life in jeopardy. This is probably why in the REM phase all our skeletal muscles are atonic – we literally cannot move a muscle.
Other biological functions also differ between REM and NREM phases. In the NREM phase our heart beats more slowly (especially in the 4th subphase), blood pressure and ventilation are lower and, generally, less blood flows through the brain due to the fall in the metabolic rate of this organ (especially in deep sleep). In the REM phase, all these variables are fluctuating and cannot easily be qualified as higher or lower.
What differentiates us from other mammals is the fact that our metabolic rate during the REM phase is not lower than during the NREM phase. This can be explained by the greater participation of the brain in this phase, however, in general the metabolic rate of our body is 5-15% lower during sleep than when we are awake.
It’s Kamil here. As I promised last week, I’ve prepared an update. Please take it as an important and personal message from me.
First of all I would like to apologize. I am sorry for the delay and deficiencies in communication.
Also I would like to revise our story after the Kickstarter campaign. It has been a fight for our dream. The dream of making a change, creating something new and unusual that will correspond to problems of real people.
I am writing to you because I want to start a conversation. I would like to tell you about our achievements, but also about doubts and failures that we had to cope with. This means I would like to hear your voice on all of the above. We are in the home stretch right now, but we owe you an honest update and apologies for the mistakes we made during the campaign.
The Kickstarter Campaign
Over a year ago we launched a Kickstarter campaign. We had a dream of revolutionizing the sleep devices market. Our project, the NeuroOn, was the first device to not only measure, but also influence sleep.
There were, and still are, people who said we were untrustworthy. You are the ones who believed in us and in our dream.
Pulse Oximeter and Thermometer
The Kickstarter campaign was a hectic time for us, but we could not have predicted what would happen next. We’ve received a message from the Chair of the National Sleep Foundation, Dr. Christopher Drake. Dr. Drake is researcher at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders and Research Center, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. We got positive feedback, and Dr. Drake offered to be our advisor.
Together, we’ve discussed the NeuroOn and decided to perform significant changes that would lead to greater functionality and usefulness from the consumer’s perspective.
We opted for additional sensors: a pulse oximeter and a thermometer in order to measure saturation (the level of oxygen in blood), pulse, body temperature during sleep, and, indirectly, melatonin (a sleep hormone that allowed us to estimate circadian rhythms). Thanks to that, the data about sleep was more accurate and the NeuroOn approached the quality usually offered by medical devices (professional pulse oximeters).
The next breakthrough in development of the NeuroOn was the DLD Conference in Munich, where I had the pleasure to be one the speakers. Here you can watch the panel on wearables I took part in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-NjdyUwPFk.
During the event, we had a chance to talk with airline representatives, who made us think about the great influence the NeuroOn could have on passengers by reducing the effects of jet lag. Also, we were advised to focus more on design. We wanted the NeuroOn to be washable, and for that we needed a quickly removable PCB box.
When at the end of last year we thought the NeuroOn was ready, we realized that the foam directly touching the user’s face was too hard. It was uncomfortable, and the quality of signal varied depending on the sleeping position. We had to take another hard decision. Despite the delay, we decided to re-design the NeuroOn for the last time. Now we know it was not just an option; it was crucial to the project.
Facts about the NeuroOn
A number of unclear messages about the NeuroOn got to us. I would like to verify a few statements about the NeuroOn:
1. There will be a mobile app for polyphasic sleep, and it will by supported by the NeuroOn. This app will be released after the NeuroOn and Jet Lag apps. However, it is important to remember that the most optimal sleep according to science is monophasic and biphasic sleep (4 hours of sleep daily as a minimum). Polyphasic sleep may be a solution for people who cannot sleep either on a monophasic or biphasic schedule. Polyphasic sleep requires regularity in order to let your body adapt. I encourage you to read about a study on polyphasic sleep conducted at the University of Arizona at http://hdl.handle.net/10150/297764.
2. The amount of sleep an individual needs varies depending on a number of factors. Lately, scientists have found DNA records that, among other factors, determine need for sleep. More on that at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22105623.
The NeuroOn will not magically make one sleep 2 hours a day. Even after switching to uberman, only a few will be able to sleep 2 hours a day. If any of you thought that only by switching on the NeuroOn, and sleeping with it one night, you will be able to sleep 2 hours, we are sorry to have mislead you. It was not our intention.
3. We are working on an app for lucid dreaming. Inducing lucid dreams by the NeuroOn is based on detecting the REM phase and then exposing eyes to bright light according to specific parameters. Why during the REM phase? Because this is the time when we are dreaming. Please, be aware that there is no warranty lucid dreams will be induced. If you are interested in the topic, you may read about a survey on lucid dreaming at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24934010, and about scientific facts on that at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19750924.
4. The NeuroOn will create a valid sleep structure thanks to 3 electrodes. There is a possibility that the electrodes will not have direct contact with skin during all night. If contact disappears, the structure is created based on the data from the accelerometer and pulse oximeter. Latest research conducted at USC confirmed that it is possible to create sleep structure using only 3 electrodes. More on that at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24313630.
Production of the NeuroOn is delayed, and the delay may change. If any of you, our Kickstarter backers, would like to receive your NeuroOn earlier, we can ship it to you earlier, before the official launch. Your copy of the NeuroOn will be not certified, and we will have to go through a valid procedure. If this is the case, please send us a private message.
At the end, I would like to assure you that we are committed to the NeuroOn. We are working under huge pressure, but we keep reminding ourselves we are working on a project that is great and changes the reality of sleep wearables.
Not only had the NeuroOn itself changed. The Intelclinic Team had its up and downs as well. We have risen from 3 to 16 people, and continue growing. There were members of our team that stopped believing in success of the NeuroOn, and have quit.
The project has a bright future ahead. Last week, Brain&Spinal Cord Disorders Institute from Paris has reached out to us, showing interest in cooperation regarding the upcoming versions of the NeuroOn.
To fully commit to the NeuroOn, I put my medical studies on hold; Janusz, our CTO, became a father, but he kept working with the same verve. We are aware that you put your trust in us, and we will not let you down.
Please, remember that your comments mean a lot to all of us. The negative ones we take seriously (we apologize for the times we were too slow to respond), and the positive ones make us smile and keep going (thanks, Marsha :)).
On behalf of the Intelclinic team I ask you for your support. We are really close to the finishing line. We have gone through a lot. We believe that with your help we can change the world of technology.
We are on the last home stretch, so we need your support. We will give our all not let you down.
We would like to apologize you for the luck of updates. Our intention was not to make you feel neglected and misinformed. We realized we had missed communication on that, both with you and in our team. We would like to show you the development of the components of the NeuroOn from scratch until now. We believe that it will give you a clear idea about functionalities of the NeuroOn and the decisions taken along the development process.
In today’s post we will explain how our hardware team has been developing the PCB box.
Please, take into consideration that our aim was to make the text understandable to you all, and we omitted scientific terms.
To sum up, since the version 1.0, the NeuroOn was able to collect and analyze brainwaves. The NeuroOn was functional after the release of version 4.0. Since then we focused on increasing functionalities, developing the design, and adjusting the NeuroOn to mass production.
We are in the process of preparing the production line, part of which will incorporate a tool that will check every NeuroOn before being packed and shipped to your house.
We hope that this brief development story explains what the hardware team was working on for last months. In the next posts we will describe our adventures with design, biological signals analysis, application, and history of our team. By them we would like to explain why we needed all this iterations.