Startup Stories: LumosTech

Assembling an arduino-based sleep mask prototype for early user testing

LumosTech – Take control of your sleep

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Misalignment between your circadian clock and the need for sleep is why you feel jet lag when travelling across time zones, have trouble getting up when daylight savings time begins, and the reason you have trouble going to sleep early — even when you know you have an important meeting the next morning. Our company is building a next-generation sleep mask to treat circadian rhythm disorders during sleep. Our technology is based on research from Stanford University demonstrating that millisecond light pulses can stimulate the suprachiasmatic nucleus (the part of the brain that regulates circadian rhythm). Using these light pulses during sleep can alter the timing of sleep and wake cycles, and human studies show that our technology is effective without disrupting sleep. The sleep mask uses biosensors to collect sleep quality data, and the mask interfaces with a companion smartphone app that uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the most effective time to deliver the light pulses (based on user inputs). With this technology, we can reduce jet lag, help athletes align sleep-wake cycles for peak performance, and ultimately fight “social jet lag,” the misalignment between your sleep cycle and your daily activities that is estimated to affect 80% of the population. Several of our own team members have experienced jet lag, and we know there is no current option that is scientifically validated, effective and convenient. We’re offering a convenient and personalized sleep product that actually shifts sleep cycles and simultaneously monitors sleep quality.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
We were excited by the elegant solution that could help millions of people sleep better by addressing a fundamental mismatch between the demands of their daily life and their circadian rhythm. Several of our own team members have experienced circadian rhythm disruptions, such as jet lag, and we know there is no currently available product that is both effective and convenient. The CDC has labeled insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic, and with rising interest in sleep apps and other products it seems that more people are recognizing sleep as a pillar of wellness. What we felt was lacking were practical, effective, clinically validated solutions, and we are excited to help address a growing sleep-deficit epidemic.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Our target customer is anyone with a disrupted circadian rhythm, including teenagers (who have hormonally late-shifted sleep patterns), individuals with delayed or advanced phase sleep disorder, and travelers with jet lag. Our product can also be used for social jet lag, or the misalignment of your sleep cycle with the demands of your daily schedule. The CDC reported that nearly 35% of Americans are not getting enough sleep, which means 200 million sleep-deprived adults (in the US alone) could benefit from this technology.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
Fortunately for us, the technology has already been scientifically validated in human research studies at Stanford University, so one of the biggest hurdles in developing a new health technology has already been addressed. In developing a wearable product based on this technology, we faced a very common chicken-and-egg problem: investors want to see customer traction with your product, which is difficult to build without money. We have gotten around this by building initial prototypes piecemeal from commercially available parts, relying on the help of some amazing mentors, and making judicious use of small grants. Simultaneously, we have been talking with potential customers to find out as much as we can about their needs and interests in this space while developing our first prototypes.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
Tall. Just kidding. We’re a team of Stanford-trained scientists who are passionate about wellness, committed to transparency, ethical behavior, and kindness, and we have a lot of fun working together.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
We’ve only recently discovered Project Eve, but as a women-led company, we are very interested in being part of a future of inclusion and equality. We have benefited from the mentoring of a fantastic group of men and women through our involvement in the Stanford Venture Studio, and would very much like to pay it forward.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Sleep is important. Just like diet and exercise, sleep must be a priority if you want to maintain good health and play at the top of your game. With an increased consumer interest in sleep has come a wave of new sleep products and tools, which is amazing, but it is important to remember that the effectiveness of any product will be mitigated by how much you make sleep a priority in your life! Those late nights foregoing sleep to finish one last work-related task may not be buying you as much as you hope, something our team strives to remember on a regular basis.

Company: LumosTech


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