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Japan’s wearable devices aim to promote better sleep


Having trouble sleeping? Before heading to a specialist, perhaps wearing something new to bed can help.

Just make sure it’s electric.

Xenoma Inc., a Tokyo-based start-up spun off from the University of Tokyo, in May launched the e-skin Sleep Tshirt that is worn to bed to provide sleep diagnosis.

A patch of fabric embedded with flexible electronic circuits is sewn into the pocket on the front of the shirt at the abdomen. The shirt comes with a small electronic device that is affixed in the pocket. The device can measure heartbeat, body movements and temperature on the shirt’s interior. The data are analyzed using an app downloaded onto a smartphone that is linked to the device.

Sleep quality is evaluated on a 100-point scale. The app gives advice on how to improve the score.

“Just by wearing the product, customers can easily monitor their sleep status,” said Xenoma’s Misako Tatsuyama, who is in charge of public relations. “It’s popular among health-conscious people in their 30s and 40s.”

Smart wear is also expected to play a role in supporting the aging society amid the low birthrate.

In January this year, Nagoya-based textile trading company Toyoshima & Co. launched the Wearable Smart Town Kurumi Project, which aims to solve regional issues. The first step is to promote the use of smart wear as part of local governments’ health and welfare measures.

Toyoshima signed a partnership agreement with Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, that same month. They have started using such wear to watch over sleeping children in nursery schools and for citizens’ physical training projects.

“By visualizing the effects, we can increase understanding of the measures and realize a safe, secure, healthy society,” said Chihiro Izumi, an official of Toyoshima.

The applications of wearable devices are diversifying and the places where they can be worn are expanding.

However, Hiroshi Ashida, a fashion critic and associate professor at Kyoto Seika University, said: “Currently, wearable device users are still limited to those who seek specific functions. If something is developed that everyone can find value in, such as a fashionable jacket that adjusts the temperature accordingly, these items may spread rapidly.”


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