Gadgets for humans

Sense is a bedside gadget for monitoring and improving your sleep


James Proud, a graduate of the first class of the Thiel Fellowship, has launched his new startup, Hello, on Kickstarter with Sense, a gadget that sits on your nightstand and monitors your sleeping environment.

The device includes motion, light, temperature, humidity, noise and air quality sensors in order to understand your environment. Its design reminds me of a miniature version of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, affectionately called the Bird’s Nest. Sense also combines with a “sleep pill” that clips to your pillowcase to provide more specific data about your sleep cycle.

Sleep trackers are nothing new, with multiple startups devising wearable and in-bed solutions. However, Sense takes a more holistic approach by trying to provide data on environmental conditions that might be affecting how you sleep. As the mobile app collects data, it can offer recommendations on things you can fix to ensure a good night’s rest.


Theoretically, Sense should get a…well, sense for what temperature you sleep best at. It can also tell you whether you or your partner snore or sleeptalk.

On Kickstarter, you can get the device for backing the project at $99 and above. It will sell for $129 when it hits retail. Hello expects to start shipping at the end of this year.

Proud started work on Sense after realizing that sleep tracking was the main use case that many people want out of their wearables. His research showed that some users only wear fitness bands at night.


“It seems like an oxymoron to put on a piece of electronics when you’re taking everything else off,” Proud said. “I was looking at this more and realized everyone’s neglecting to look at the most important room of our lives: the bedroom. We spend literally a third of our lives there.”

With Sense, Hello wants you to look beyond how you’re sleeping to why you’re sleeping. This is a crucial next step for the quantified self movement – taking the data we’re collecting and putting it to use to improve the quality of our lives.

“People are beginning to realize how important sleep is to us,” Proud said. “The foundation of every single day is built upon how you slept at night.”

When you walk by Sense during the day, it will briefly glow to provide feedback on how conducive your bedroom is for sleep. You can also swipe your hand over it to activate the feature. The goal is to have the gadget glow green every night before you go to bed. If it’s yellow or orange, you can check the app for advice on what to change.


Proud previously founded concert discovery service Giglocator, which he sold not long after joining the Thiel Fellows program, which funds young entrepreneurs to skip school and work on startups instead. Proud also worked with Max Levchin at his data-focused HVF project.


Published July 23, 2014 — 11:00 UTC