App review: Sleep as an droid. Or as a cyborg?

On: October 12, 2011
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About Renoud Netjes
After graduated from both mediadesign and interactive media, I was trained to see the virtual as a place with huge advertising opportunities. Now I no longer try to see the virtual world only from this marketing perspective. Interested in innovation, the promises of new media and what they are or could mean in modern society.

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I love to sleep. So much that waking up early on Monday for morning classes is a hard and laborious task. I always set my alarm clock about half an hour early to compensate for the time spent snoozing -another thing that I love to do.

This Monday was a bit different. I woke up about forty minutes earlier than my regular annoying Monday morning pre-snooze alarm. And I was feeling better than I probably would have forty minutes later. Why? Because of the piece of high-tech being that was my bedmate, – I am talking about my mobile phone.

My phone is me and I am my phone.

As many are today, I am the owner of a smart phone as well. An android, to be precise. It is filled with Apps which I use to browse the web, engage in social activity, play a game when I am bored or keep track of my running / cycling distance and pace. My phone has become so smart that it knows more about me than I do myself.

My phone has become an extension of myself. There are little times that I don’t use my phone or at least have it with me, ready to be used at any time. Sleep, for example, is probably the number one time that I don’t use my phone whatsoever. So it was ironically that I decided to fill in this hole in my phone usage, by installing and using an app called ‘Sleep as an Droid’ (an-droid, get it?).

Sleep as an droid

Sleep as an droid is created by czech developer duo Petr Nálevka and Martin Šťava. It’s a free app, and it’s main purpose of this app is that it allows you to visualize your sleep. Before going to sleep you start the app and place your phone next to your pillow. It then measures my sleeping activity, making use of all the different inputs that my android phone has to offer –e.g. accelerometer, orientation sensor and sound. Each morning the app gives you a visualization of your sleep, showing the times of deep sleep (Rapid Eye Movement, REM) when movement is low, and times of light sleep when more activity and turning around is measured.Because the app also tracks the sound of your sleep, it can also record the noises you make while you sleep. I was expecting all kinds of adventure stories, but as it turns out, I don’t talk in my sleep.

In addition it can help people like me, people who cannot get out of bed on early Mondays. Sleep like an droid offers a alarm clock function which can wake you on the most ideal time, based on your sleep cycles and a given wake up time range. Most ideal being the time when you are already in light sleep. In practice, for me this always means getting up earlier then expected, but feeling a bit more wide-awake.

Sleep as a cyborg?

This makes this app interesting from another point of view. Not only is the app measuring my physical activity, it is also doing something with this information in order to physically make me feeling better in the morning. It is playing an active part in my night sleep, being responsible for the wake up. More than just a regular alarm clock, because this app uses the personal information gathered.

In this way, it becomes part in an almost cyborg-like way. Am I becoming Norbert Wieners human-machine hybrid? Smart phones could definitely be seen as a mechanic extension of oneself. (( Cybernetics-: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. N Wiener – 1965 – mitpress.mit.edu )) . While this extension could mainly be seen as a non-physical one, apps like Sleep like an droid make the effects more connected to the physical.

Also, This app raises the question. Is it only a matter of time before we all have a personal ubiquitous computing device connected to our body, interacting with the outside world, beyond our beds and alarm clocks?
Sleep as an droid is not exactly that device, but it is a step towards.

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You can download ‘Sleep like an droid’ from the Android Market.

One Response to “App review: Sleep as an droid. Or as a cyborg?”
  • October 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    This is really interesting when looking at embodied virtuality. I am going to download this.

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