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Sense, the sleep-watching orb, is waking up investors

The Sense globe and its Sleep Pill

Above: The Sense globe and its Sleep Pill

Image Credit: Hello

Sense, a glowing orb for sleep-monitoring, has caught on among investors, who have ponied up $10.5 million for the Silicon Valley-based company that makes it, one Hello. Investors include ex-PayPal head David Marcus, Facebook exec Dan Rose, and Xiaomi exec (and recent Google honcho) Hugo Barra.

Sense has caught fire on Kickstarter, as almost 20,000 backers have made donations or pre-ordered the globe, adding another $2.4 million to the cash raised.

The device — $99 for the Kickstarter backers who will start receiving it by November, $129 at retail — resides like a small, spherical candle holder on a night table. But, according to the company, it does so much more than shelter a flickering flame.

With an accelerometer- and gyroscope-bearing sensor called the Sleep Pill sitting under your pillow and an accompanying phone app, the device is essentially a sleep fairy without the pixie dust.

“Sense,” the company says on its website, “is a simple system that tracks your sleep behavior, monitors the environment of your bedroom, and reinvents the alarm.” The simplicity includes an ambient light sensor, high-sensitivity microphone, temperature sensor, high-quality speaker, proximity sensor, particulate sensor, and WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity.

Here’s the Kickstarter video:

The device tracks airborne pollen, humidity, temperature, ambient light, and sound levels, and it glows green at bedtime. The company says it can tell the difference between falling asleep, sleeping soundly, thrashing around, and waking up.

All of this is viewable in the morning on the app, where competitive types can see how well they did via the app’s sleep score. One hopes a leaderboard is not being planned.

Like any good fairy, Sense knows when to intervene and when to, shall we say, let sleeping dogs lie. Instead of an old-fashioned, brute-force alarm clock blasting away at a time set by you in advance, Sense will wait to wake you until you’ve reached what Hello calls “the right time to wake you.”

“Sleep is absolutely crucial to every single one of us,” Hello founder and former Thiel fellow James Proud writes on the company’s blog. “Out of all the different things we do each day, it’s one of the few that we literally do every single day and it provides the foundation for absolutely everything else we do during that following day.

“At Hello, we wanted to build Sense because we saw that the way people were currently looking at technology, and sleep for consumers just didn’t feel right.”

We’ve reached out to Hello for comments, but have not yet received a response.