Three former Bose employees are resurrecting the Sleepbuds

I’ve been writing about earphones long enough to understand that there is a wide range of people who use them as sleep aids. I often see questions about how comfortable the buds are for side sleepers or if they can even be worn overnight in the first place. I? I’m perfectly content with having a white noise machine on my bedside table, but it just doesn’t work for everyone. For them, the chase continues.

Five years ago, Bose introduced its original line of Sleepbuds. These tiny earphones didn’t play music, and they lacked active noise cancellation. Instead, they’re designed to sit comfortably in your ears while you sleep and produce subtle sounds to reduce disturbances and help people quickly slip into a peaceful slumber. And some owners have really liked them as part of their nighttime routine.

But Bose has had some complications with the Sleepbuds. The first generation pair was discontinued due to battery reliability issues. To the surprise of some, the company made another attempt in 2020 with a redesigned set of Sleepbuds. But within a few months, perhaps due to declining adoption — Bose is a private company and doesn’t share its sales numbers — the Sleepbuds II met an abrupt end.

Companies like Anker have since They threw their hat into the ringBut the Sleepbuds were (and still are) a unique product, which has led some customers to do so lament their hiatus. But it turns out that all is not lost: Three former Bose employees insisted they had something special that they weren’t willing to give up. They saw what looked like a huge opportunity spanning both consumer technology and personal health.

And so NP Patel, Charles Taylor, and Brian Mulcahy She decided to found a new startup, Ozlo, and eventually acquired the Sleepbuds brand from Bose. They actually own the product now, with one minor exception being the ear tips, which still look very similar to Bose’s “StayHear” design — at least for this initial hardware release.

These lightweight sleep headphones are designed to fit in your ear and be comfortable no matter what position you sleep in.
Photo: Ozlo

The redesigned Sleepbuds will immediately sound similar to their predecessors, and the battery life still promises to last through a typical night’s sleep (about 10 hours). But Ozlow wants to become more ambitious than what Bose left things to be. The new buds include “biometric sensor technology to monitor your movement and breathing while lying in bed to determine when you fall asleep and help understand your sleep stages.” Ozlo carefully redesigned the Sleepbuds, Patel told me, using new batteries and other components to avoid any hardware hurdles or bugs that Bose had previously encountered.

The charging case, which also looks identical – apart from the Ozlo logo replacing the Bose logo – is also made more sophisticated. It now includes sensors for light, sound and temperature; Ozlo uses this data to understand your sleep environment and what factors may be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. All of this information is pulled together into the company’s mobile app for a morning breakdown of how well you slept. The data is processed locally and doesn’t transfer any of your health information to the cloud, but you can opt-in to share your measurements with Apple Health or Android Health Connect.

The case now includes sensors to analyze how light, temperature and sound affect your sleep.
GIF: Ozlo

Perhaps the biggest job upgrade is that Sleepbuds v3 can now play regular music as well as a whole host of reimagined masked sounds. It can’t match the premium earbuds in terms of audio fidelity, but it also didn’t sound bad during a demo in Manhattan last week. The flexibility of playing whatever you want also means you can load up whatever white noise sound you decide is the perfect sound for you – people can be it very Especially about this kind of thing. Just ask Google, which found itself on the receiving end of customer wrath when it decided to randomly change the default white noise sound in Google Assistant.

Ozlo’s founders envision a long-term build of software capabilities for Sleepbuds (and beyond) that could include personalized sleep therapy; You might start with a coaxing sound to fall asleep to, but then the earphones will automatically switch to another sound in the middle of the night to keep you in the most beneficial stages of sleep. The company plans to offer an API for both Android and iOS, and has hinted to me that while Bose’s design makes for an excellent foundation, it has big ideas for where its completely reworked Sleepbuds could go in the future. .

Ozlow has already raised more than $10 million in funding. according to fast companybut it will be Turn to Kickstarter To help offer the Sleepbuds to consumers — for about the same $249.99 Bose was last charging. Eventually, the buds will also be available through Amazon and directly from the company.

So Sleepbuds are back. If you’ve owned a previous Bose model and felt like it’s been missing for the past few years, this is your chance to give them another lease on life. Whether Ozlo’s Kickstarter success should serve as a good clue as to whether it’s worth bringing them back from the brink or whether Sleepbuds should be left to perpetually hibernate remains to be seen.

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