Tyler Suiters                      

Hey everybody. We're the Consumer Technology Association. I'm Tyler Suiters. We are the owners and the producers of CES, the world's largest, the world's most influential tech event. And we are here to help you get CES Ready. Our upcoming show is January 7th through the 10th, 2020, in Las Vegas as always. And today we're tackling the topic of fitness and, more largely, wearables.

Tyler Suiters                      

We're delving into how advances in sensor technologies, smart fabrics, flexible membranes, cloud computing, this is all a topic that we tackle at CES. And today specifically, two unique angles on the idea of wearables. One is the aspect of simply sensing what is going on, whether you're moving, you're running, you're sleeping. It could be a health application, an industrial application, all kinds of approaches. And then a more narrow focus on sleep itself. Our guests today, first of all, Awarables, a startup company based here in Washington, D.C., that will be in Eureka Park among the amazing startup event that is in place there at CES. And Awarables is focused on improving sleep quality.

Tyler Suiters                      

Now this goes beyond just hacking your sleep and helping everyday consumers sleep better. This is technology driven by a doctor who has worked with the Federal government and for the Federal government on people who have true sleep problems. Think insomnia.

Tyler Suiters                      

Also a conversation with a company from the Netherlands called Xsens. This is a company that deals with, we'll call it the guts of wearables. Sensors themselves. And also a little bit of a look into what it takes to make the Netherlands such a strong innovation champion in the CTA International Innovation scorecard. What drives that country to be such a tech leader given its relatively small place in the world? All of that is coming up on this edition of CES Tech Talk.

Tyler Suiters                      

With us in studio right now, a startup on the cutting edge of sleep technology, which is very much a wearable space, from Awarables. First, chief science officer and cofounder Madhvi Upender. Madhvi, great to have you with us.

Madhvi Upender             

Thank you for having us, Tyler.

Tyler Suiters                      

And Amrit Bandy is CTO and cofounder of Awarables. Amrit, it's good to have you with us today.

Amrit Bandy                      

Yeah, it's good to be here. Yeah, and that's a Bandy, rhymes with Candy.

Tyler Suiters                      

Good to remember. Thank you. Great to have you with us. Why D.C., first of all? CTA is here in the Washington, D.C., area, which makes sense as a trade organization. Why choose Washington as a tech sector?

Amrit Bandy                      

I think D.C. is one of the best tech sectors you can have. It has, it means we are a bit looked over compared to Silicon Valley. But we have the most amazing colleges around. We have a workforce that is actually very loyal. Will work with the same company for more than five years, maybe 10 years, and is actually loyal to their company. And we're in the middle of policy and how the world operates so we can actually be a part of the conversation of making this technology, bringing it to market, and bringing it into the market the right way.

Tyler Suiters                      

That sounds awfully sophisticated for a startup company to have an eye on policy and what is happening in the larger legislative and regulatory world. Do you feel like you especially advanced in that sector compared to some of your peers?

Madhvi Upender             

We're definitely in touch with it. So my background is more in the healthcare side and clinical side. So I came from the NIH as my background. So there's this connection with keeping in mind consumer health, but also making sure that it has medical relevance and clinical relevance. And now I think there's so much overlap between healthcare implementation and healthcare policy with all this growth in consumers being more active in their health. So I think D.C. is an amazing area.

Tyler Suiters                      

Well I don't want to lose sight of your company itself, Awarables. And yes, this has to do with wearable technology. Yes, it is about health and sleep and wellness. But you have a specific direction for Awarables having to do with what you feel is really an underserved portion of the consumer market, correct?

Amrit Bandy                      

Yes. We are looking at people who think that, who would identify with the words that my sleep is broken, that I have difficulty with sleep, that I'm suffering, that they have a high pain point and what they want to do is get better. They might identify with having symptoms of insomnia. If you're the person who is a part of that 3 00 AM club, that you're awake at 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM, and you know that you lie there staring at the ceiling having rather negative thoughts and it spirals. If you feel like you're tired all the time but maybe not sleepy enough to actually go to sleep, that you're tired, and your life is suffering, and you actually also don't want to be on pharmaceuticals, then we are the right company for you.

Tyler Suiters                      

Well tell me how you all attack that, please. And Madhvi, we'll start with you as Chief Science Officer and coming from the National Institutes of Health. What about the scientific aspect of how you approach what Amrit has described as a serious health concern?

Madhvi Upender             

Right. So I think now the public is more and more aware and learning a lot about the importance of sleep in just overall health. We know that it impacts your daytime performance in every aspect, of your emotional health, physical health, cognitive health. So what we've done, I think, which is different from most other companies attacking sleep is we're taking a holistic approach where we're actually developing a wearable device that measures sleep at a clinical level.

Madhvi Upender             

So it measures your sleep quality through the night, not just the amount if you're awake or sleeping. We can actually tell you how long you've been in REM sleep and deep sleep and it's a comfortable wearable sensor that you wear overnight. And then we also have taken that further into helping people improve sleep. Once you know how you sleep, you need to understand what areas that are broken you want to fix. So we implement that by, again, using clinically validated methods for behavioral therapy and guide you through those different steps of programs that help you improve sleep.

Madhvi Upender             

And we essentially handhold you in guiding the different therapies that are used for how you can fall asleep faster, what to do when you're awake in the middle of the night, what things not to do. All of those things. So we're taking that as a holistic approach to help you measure sleep and help you improve.

Tyler Suiters                      

So it sounds at one level simple to say we're measuring sleep and we're doing these various measurements. But that seems to be the most challenging part in some ways, right? How do you effectively measure sleep? How does Awarables tackle that?

Amrit Bandy                      

So for measuring sleep, the most important thing that you can do is, one, we targeted the fact that we have to do it for an insomniac. So it has to be done at home. Right now it's done in a sleep lab, which is targeted at people who have sleep apnea where in one night you can measure if they get enough air flow. For an insomniac that does not matter. Maybe you slept that night, maybe you did not. You're usually strapped up to around 20 electrodes and you spend the night in the hospital.

Tyler Suiters                      

So a lot of variables outside of what it's like in your own home when you're suffering from insomnia.

Amrit Bandy                      

Absolutely. And it's actually, that actually is reimbursed at around $1,500 a night, which is an archaic system. The goal is to do that every night, as many nights as you need as a person, at home. And it needs to tell you whether you get deep sleep, which is called slow wave sleep, and REM sleep. These are two different things. Deep sleep is actually when your body heals itself. It happens in the first half of the night. This is also when you remember memories, like today we came for this interview. It was at 12 o'clock. We had a good discussion. All these memories are consolidated during deep sleep. REM is when you actually learn complex skills like playing the piano or actually doing your job, which happens on autopilot. That happens in increasing intervals through the night, there's actually a picture of what that looks like which nobody can see.

Tyler Suiters                      

I'd try to describe the picture, Amrit, but it's beyond me. I'll let you talk us through it, though, but the point is deep and REM sleep are the two key areas.

Amrit Bandy                      

Yes, and you need to measure those because there are people who might sleep for seven hours and actually not get enough REM sleep or enough deep sleep and they'll be suffering. Anybody who does not get deep sleep will say that I feel tired all the time. And we need to actually first find out what's wrong with their sleep and also being able to, there's also something called limbo sleep, that's my term, but it's called fragmented sleep. But it's when you don't know whether you're sleeping or awake. And you drift in and out. And you actually want to nail that accurately to be able to come up with the right therapies.

Tyler Suiters                      

Right, right. Makes sense. Well, I'll tell you what, I don't want to gloss over the sleep signature graph that you're sharing. What we'll do is for everyone listening now, we'll put this up on our Twitter feed for you, @CES, so you can see exactly what Amrit and Madhvi are talking about. Talking again about this space broadly, Madhvi, what enables tech to be this crossover vehicle to address a problem like this? To heal an insomniac, where therapies aren't complete, analysis isn't complete, rehabilitation, or whatever term you want to use, isn't enough. Why does tech have to be a part of the equation?

Madhvi Upender             

Right. So I think, especially in sleep, a lot of the work is done by these surveys or by questionnaires because there's a lack of tools that are available for doctors to assess sleep accurately. So even for insomnia, there are these sort of standard questionnaires, so insomnia severity index and Pittsburgh sleep quality index. These are clinical measures, but they're all self-reported. And sleep, it happens when you're not aware, obviously. So it's very difficult to get accurate measurements of when you're falling asleep, if you're awake in the middle of the night, all of these things. So technology can provide that objective quantitation and quality of sleep.

Tyler Suiters                      

So it's interesting. That sounds like a means of addressing, I don't know, say each of us sprains an ankle. And by some happenstance they're all the same degree. It's a level one sprain or whatever you might say. And a questionnaire or a doctor says, "Oh, what's your pain level?" And we get a one, a three, and an eight, and it's all theoretically the same level of pain. So it's eliminating that almost human error. Is that a fair way to put it?

Madhvi Upender             

Right. And it's also the perception. So people who have sleep problems have some sort of a bias. A lot of people underestimate the level of sleep that they do get. So one of the things that these objective measurements will do is that show a person you're actually getting a decent amount of sleep. Maybe it's more than you actually think you were getting. So I think it's reassuring them or helping them see their quality of sleep and see what they need to improve. Perception is a huge thing.

Amrit Bandy                      

Yeah. And your analogy is on point. And in sleep, the added element is that you have no way of knowing whether you actually get deep sleep or not.

Madhvi Upender             

Even more of a guess, then.

Amrit Bandy                      

It's x-raying something that you could not even know. It's not possible for you to know. There are a lot of people who dream a lot and don't remember that they did in the morning. So that is a big part of the wearable part of it. Awarables is aware wearables.

Tyler Suiters                      

Yes. Yes. I'm sure a lot of thought went into that name. Amrit, if we're going down that road, I'm curious about something you said earlier, which is in essence this is an underserved population. How did you all target this? How did you identify this as being underserved people with real sleep problems versus what the much larger marketplace would be, which is people who just want to sleep better?

Amrit Bandy                      

Yeah, so we did more than 150 customer interviews to find out who needs this the most and what is their pain and what are they looking for? In that, it was always, this area has always had fascination from everybody, whether it's somebody who wants to lucid dream, somebody who wants to hack sleep to perform better. And then there was this population that actually they're not that... It's not about sleep monitoring, it's about sleep improvement. That they're broken. And we actually did freeform interviews with them that just what is your pain? How do you want to get better? Whom do you lean on for advice? And they poured out. They often are awake at 3:00 AM and go to the deep, dark corners of the internet and write and read. And that is not healthy.

Amrit Bandy                      

One of the biggest problems in the area has been, that if you take one thing away from this podcast, the way to get better in insomnia is actually cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. That is actually the guidelines by the American College of Physicians on how to get better even before you're given a sleeping pill.

Tyler Suiters                      

But that starts with a diagnosis, correct? Or an accurate diagnosis?

Amrit Bandy                      

Insomnia is a lot to do with if you feel like you have insomnia, you probably have a sleep problem. And half the people in our interviews told us that they, some of them skipped the medical system, or some of them go and get a sleeping pill too early. It's nobody's fault. It's the doctor has seven minutes to take care of you. And some of them go to a sleep lab incorrectly. So the big problem over there is that there are only 200 to 500 therapists who are trained in sleep to give out CBTI.

Tyler Suiters                      

And that's nationally in the US?

Amrit Bandy                      

Nationally in the US. So it's, one, there's a knowledge problem. That how do you get better? It's actually a bit on the low side, even in the medical community. Two, how do you get it to 50 million people who have insomnia when they're 200 people who are actually trained in it?

Amrit Bandy                      

So that is where technology comes in. And then, as a company, it's important for us to know who are we dealing with? We are dealing with somebody who is tired all the time. So whatever technology we present to them, one, it has to be very comfortable. It cannot disturb your sleep. And it also has to deal with who you are. You're somebody who's hurting. One day you're going to feel like you can change the whole world and you can read everything to do with sleep. One day you'll be out of it and you'll be cloudy and you won't have the patience to even go through one line that the app has to tell you. So that is what this app has to pull off. Actually take care of you, help you get better, hold your hand, and yeah, be a friend through getting better in sleep.

Tyler Suiters                      

Be a friend, yeah. Madhvi, your approach for CES 2020, this is for both of you the first time at the show. And the first time Awarables has been on a stage like this. You'll be in Eureka Park, which is the home for startups. How are you approaching it?

Madhvi Upender             

Well, we're starting early, trying to talk to as many people as we can. Talking to our mentors, advisors, colleagues who have been to CES, first of all. We've started reaching out to media outlets, and this podcast being a great opportunity to let the word out. We're working with a marketing firm to make sure our booth set up exhibits are good. We're trying to set up meetings with investors out there doing the venture match, for example. Setting up meetings ahead of time with potential partnerships, things like that.

Tyler Suiters                      

It's a startup roadmap, to some degree, Amrit, right?

Madhvi Upender             

Yeah.

Amrit Bandy                      

It's very exciting and I think we're going to actually work, I mean go with our strengths. We are the company that actually cares about the person who is suffering from sleep, so we will actually be asking you, are you the person who was awake at 3 00 AM? On day three of CES, most people will be sleep deprived. When you're walking by, there's so much fascinating technology over there, from virtual reality to augmented this, but there's also probably very few companies who are asking you that are you suffering? Do you want to get better?

Amrit Bandy

It's the New Year's, too. Everybody has new year resolution. Sleep is a brilliant New Year resolution. I think our promo videos that we'll be playing for one minute will harp on that, that if you want a New Year's resolution, improving your sleep, and actually these kinds of therapies, it takes a couple of months. You see results within a few weeks. And within a couple of months, you actually see results. They can actually help you achieve your other resolution is like quitting smoking or losing weight. Sleep can actually hurt you from not being able to actually perform your other New Year's resolutions. So I think we will make a lot of noise about that and trying to get people to jump on the New Year's resolution trend.

Tyler Suiters                      

A fascinating step into the wearable space. The company is Awarables. Madhvi Upender is Chief Science Officer and co-founder, and her co-founder as well as the company's CTO is Amrit Bandy. Thank you both for coming and have a great CES.

Madhvi Upender             

Thank you so much. I'm looking forward to it.

Amrit Bandy                      

Yeah, I really think that everybody has the right to feel their best so that you can actually do the things that you need to do to be your best. Sleep will get you there. And Awarables, as a company, we will help you get better in sleep.

Tyler Suiters                      

Love the New Year's Resolution. Thank you both.

Amrit Bandy                      

Thank you.

Madhvi Upender             

Thank you.

Tyler Suiters                      

Joining us now is Rob Löring. He is business director at a Dutch company called Xsens. And he joins us now from the Netherlands. Rob, great to have you with us.

Rob Löring                          

Thank you, Tyler.

Tyler Suiters                      

Let's start with Xsens itself, and I feel like you need to spell it for everybody because it's one of those funky spellings from the tech world. X-S-E-N-S. Xsens. Tell us a bit about the company. It's relatively new but really starting to make you know a business plan that includes pretty broad ambitions across the wearable space.

Rob Löring                          

Yes, that's correct. Well Xsens has been around since the year 2000. We have since then been specializing in making motion trackers which are able to, those are our small sensors. Our new [inaudible 00:19:29] sensors which are capable of checking their own 3D orientation. And with that technology make all kinds of products. We make sensors which can be used for initial applications to put on on robots, unmanned vehicles, flying objects, to stabilize them. But also we use them to put on humans for full-body motion capture which has been used for movies, games, biomechanical research. So very interesting, interesting markets who use these, use the sensors. And nowadays we're also broadening our scope that we also are developing those sensors and making them smaller to go more into the wearables market. People can use them for all kinds of different applications connected to mobile devices.

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well it's an interesting point you make about the shrinking size and some of the cost aspects of sensors themselves, Rob, because that then enables Xsens to get into a suite of various B2B industries. Whether that's motion capture, that you mentioned, analysis, but also branching out into healthcare, into sports, into more industrial applications. You have a quite a broad spectrum of uses for this technology.

Rob Löring                          

Yes, that's true. And while our core IP, realizing what we call sensor fusion. So using sensor data from, for example, accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, to GPS, other kinds of position systems, we are capable of fusing all that, the basic, inaccurate data together and give the people, clients, a fairly accurate reading of, for example, position or 3D orientation.

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). What do you see as the trend right now where the wearable industry is going? And I feel like you, Rob, and Xsens, are especially well qualified to answer that given the depth and breadth of potential applications and industries that you touch. So where is the trend heading at least in the next year, few years? The short term.

Rob Löring                          

You've always seen and there's always been a market that sensors, we wear them on human bodies, they use them in professional market for professional mocap, for the body clinical studies at universities, for example. But we see now that the size of these sensors can be reduced and they are reduced. So they get smaller, they get more accessible for the broader audience. The price goes down. And ultimately we would see even that they would appear in closing in a few years from now. So everybody is wearing clothing with all kinds of sensors in it.

Rob Löring                          

Next to that, I think that also, then, it's logical that all these sensors are connected through your phone, through the internet, through a cloud. And then you can think of a lot of different applications you can make with that to support health applications, sports applications, rehab. And also there we see that you have the design, started with that, the designs get smaller, smaller, but also more and more smart. So easier to wear them, they can measure more body functions, so not only accelerations or speed [inaudible 00:22:57] but also you already have heart rates sensors where you combine them with stress sensors, hydration sensors, calorie sensors, all these kinds of things. I think that's where it will go through. And I just read somewhere that research, that in 2025, we believe, that we should believe that there will be more than 10% of us all will wear connected clothing every day.

Tyler Suiters                      

I think we're heading right toward that. I think that's a fair prediction. Pulling some of the language of how you at Xsens describe yourselves. I want to hone in on one aspect, Rob, if we may. You say that our sensor fusion technologies enable a seamless interaction between the physical and digital worlds. Interesting. But it's the front part of that description that that has my attention. Sensor fusion technologies. Where do you envision the fusion or how do you envision that coming to life here?

Rob Löring                          

Well, if we talk about sensor fusion, we feel that there, at the moment there are so many new sensors which are really accessible for the broad audience, like accelerometers and gyroscopes. You can find them already in all kind of devices. In your watch, in your phone. And they are getting very, an enormous load of data, but the data is not per se accurate. Or when you want to use it directly, then you will encounter phenomenons like drift or a lot of offset. And I think there comes excellent interplay with the sensor fusion algorithms and the biomechanical models. Bringing that all together with the sensor data and being able to distill from these inaccurate sensors give you a very accurate reading and feedback on how you are moving, and also in a repeatable way so you can compare your sessions day after day, for example.

Tyler Suiters                      

So CES seems like a great place for Xsens to be given the fact that there are so many industries, so many vertical sectors, not just represented at CES but engaging, having those conversations. What does Xsens have planned for CES 2020 as a strategy or as a product unveil? How much can you give away at this early date, Rob?

Rob Löring                          

Yeah, we're, at the moment, we're in the middle of preparing this big product launch for us. But I'm not going to reveal the name yet, but we will show it at CES. It's a new sensor from Xsens. Much smaller form factor. And it will be able to connect directly with mobile platforms like a tablet, a computer, or a mobile phone. And that will enable all kinds of smart entrepreneurs, engineers, to really start diving into data coming from our sensors and applying that into apps connected to the cloud, start applications like what we foresee is clinical applications or rehab at home. Sports, following sports athletes, but also [inaudible 00:26:11] coaching from a distance or even, we see people, foresee people that they will develop artificial intelligence coaching based on our sensor data.

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). One broader question, if you don't mind, Rob, because we see the Dutch presence at CES growing year after here. The Netherlands brings a strong contingent to Eureka Park every year. It has generally a large startup pavilion showing off the innovations that are coming out of the Netherlands. What is it that makes your country so strong, such a tech leader? At CTA, we've identified you, your country, as an innovation champion, the top rank in both of our International Innovation Scorecards. So although we have our own set of metrics and measurements, what is it in your mind, Rob, that that makes Netherlands such a tech powerhouse?

Rob Löring                          

Well, I think it's also because of the history. And Dutch are strong business-minded people with a combination of very good universities here. A lot of technical universities, we see that the Dutch are, I think the Dutch are combining their business minds together with the technical knowledge. And they're really good listening to the market, what the market wants, and they're really great in building all kinds of new products to address these market [inaudible 00:27:37].

Tyler Suiters                      

And I understand this is actually going to be your very first visit to CES coming up. Do you have any idea what to expect outside your booth and the meetings you have planned and some of the product innovation you talked about?

Rob Löring                          

Well, I heard of course a lot about CES. Every year see a lot of tech news coming when CES is on. So I expect a big show with a lot of attendance and a lot of [inaudible 00:28:11] sessions for all kinds of tech. And what we try to do is to find our place in between all these other big companies and to be able to show off and a little bit surprise the market. What can be done already with this kind of technology because I think we are in the forefront of this kind of tech, bringing sensor fusion based on [inaudible 00 28 34] to CES.

Tyler Suiters                      

Rob Löring is business director of Xsens in the Netherlands with big plans for CES 2020. Rob, we look forward to seeing you there and hope you have a fantastic initial CES experience.

Rob Löring                          

Okay, thank you, Tyler. Thank you very much.

Tyler Suiters                      

All right. That does it for this edition of CES Tech Talk. We want to help you be CES Ready, so one of your first steps is to subscribe to this podcast. That way you won't miss a single episode of CES Tech Talk as we're gearing up for the big show. Speaking of, CES 2020, January 7th through the 10th in Las Vegas.

Tyler Suiters                      

Your second step is to check out all the information you need and get registered and make your plans at ces.tech. That is C-E-S dot T-E-C-H. None of this is even remotely possible without the stars of our podcast, our executive producer, Tina Anthony, and our senior studio engineer, John Lindsey. Tina and John, y'all are the best in the business. I'm Tyler Suiters. Let's talk tech again soon.

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