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Sleep measurement company Zeo announces new mobile product and Best Buy distribution deal

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 26, 2011 07:01 AM

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Zeo_iphone_new.jpgScoring the quality of your sleep is getting less expensive, as Newton-based Zeo announces a new product called Zeo Mobile, and cuts the price of its Zeo Bedside sleep monitoring system.

As part of the Health 2.0 conference starting today in San Francisco, Zeo co-founder Ben Rubin will be unveiling the $99 Zeo Mobile (pictured at right), a headband worn at night that communicates wirelessly with an iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. Upon waking, you can view charts of how much time you spent in light, deep, or REM sleep — or awake. Zeo Mobile will be available at Best Buy stores in November, as well as Apple Stores throughout Europe, and the company is dropping the price of its all-in-one Zeo Bedside system from $199 to $149.

Zeo's systems both contain an EEG sensor — which measures brainwaves, muscle tone, and eye movement as you sleep — and assess the quality and quantity of your sleep whenever you don the headband. The new mobile system also includes an accelerometer, which gauges your position throughout the night, and can tell whether you slept on your back, side or stomach. That data won't be used right away, says Rubin, but will be integrated soon.

"We want to price the product more aggressively," Rubin told me last week, "and increase our revenues from sleep management." That additional "sleep management" revenue could come from persuading you to download a separate mobile app to help you adjust to new time zones; selling you a sleep mask; or pointing you to a service like RunKeeper or Weight Watchers, and garnering a referral fee.

Rubin says the 25-person company doesn't sell its hardware at a loss; "we're just not raking it in." Service- and referral-oriented revenues could help that, though Rubin says that monthly subscriptions aren't part of the company's current plans. "People hate subscriptions," he observes.

The new Zeo Mobile product and the company's price cuts can be seen as a reaction to newer sleep measurement companies like Lark ($99) and Wakemate ($59), both of which communicate with a mobile phone, and both of which use only motion (not EEG data) to tell whether you've gotten a good night's rest. (I wrote about the slumbertech space last month.) Zeo's Bedside device, its first product, requires you to tote an SD memory card over to the PC if you want to store or analyze your sleep data.

The company raised $12.3 million earlier this year, some of it from Best Buy Capital and Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., the venture capital arms of those two companies.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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