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article imageApple purchase hints at sleep tracking mode for next Apple Watch

By James Walker     May 10, 2017 in Technology
Apple has purchased Beddit, a Finnish manufacturer of connected sleep-tracking devices designed to work with iOS products. The acquisition strongly hints that the next Apple Watch will include a built-in sleep monitoring mode, a top user request.
The purchase was first reported by CNBC and later confirmed by TechCrunch. Apple and Beddit haven't officially commented on the deal. Beddit's privacy policy has been updated to reflect its new ownership.
"Beddit has been acquired by Apple," the updated webpage reads. "Your personal data will be collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Apple Privacy Policy."
Beddit produces physical sleep monitoring devices that are placed on top of your mattress. The company's software collects a large range of data about your sleeping patterns, including duration, efficiency, heart rate and respiration. It also logs atmospheric details like the ambient temperature and humidity to let you determine your optimum sleeping conditions.
The data is presented in the Beddit app for iPhones. It also provides insights to help you improve your sleep. Beddit can integrate into Apple's HealthKit platform to connect the two services together, letting you view your sleep in the context of your wider health.
Apple's motivations in buying Beddit haven't been confirmed. The acquisition is likely to relate to the company's upcoming Apple Watch overhaul. The current version of the smartwatch doesn't feature sleep tracking capabilities, owing to Apple's presentation of the device as a phone companion rather than an outright fitness tracker.
The Beddit app
The Beddit app
Although Beddit's latest technology is designed for a very different form factor, it's likely Apple plans to use it in a future version of the Watch. Even if it doesn't use the hardware, Apple could integrate the detailed data and insights offered by Beddit directly into watchOS. This could extend the watch's appeal to people who want extended fitness tracking capabilities, including the sleep monitoring functions offered by other wearables manufacturers.
Last year, Bloomberg reported that Apple is looking to fill in the gaps in the Apple Watch's functionality with the next major revision of the device. Technically, the current hardware could already monitor sleep.
It includes the heart rate and motion sensors used by other fitness trackers for this purpose, seemingly allowing Apple to add support with a software update. However, problems derive from the Watch's relatively short battery life. Many owners charge their device overnight, preventing its feasible use for sleep tracking.
Assuming Apple overcomes the issues, support for first-party sleep tracking would extend the company's HealthKit platform as the company evolves it into a more ambitious service. Apple wants HealthKit to become a tool that people can use to diagnose medical concerns.
Disturbances in sleep patterns can be an indicator of illness but the symptoms often go unnoticed or unappreciated. Giving Apple Watch owners a way to realise the value of their sleep to their health would aid HealthKit's long-term goals, increasing its chances of success.
Apple hasn't stated what will happen to Beddit once the acquisition is complete. The company's website will remain accessible for the foreseeable future. The updated Beddit privacy policy suggests current devices will continue to function, possibly feeding into Apple HealthKit instead of the Beddit app. It's likely owners will be contacted with more details once changes start to occur.
More about Apple, beddit, healthkit, apple watch, Healthcare