A Fitbit can end one of the biggest fights between couples in bed, whether one of them snores like a chainsaw. The company has confirmed that its Sense and Versa 3 models will be introduced with a microphone-operated "Snore & Noise Detect" feature that indicates whether the wearer or the partner sleeping next to them is making sounds. It will then record data on the “specific snoring noise,” as well as the general noise level in the room.
Once Fitbit detects that you've fallen asleep, its microphone will "sample, measure, and gather information about the noise in your environment, every few seconds." Spotting your snoring could be the first step to addressing serious health issues like sleep apnea, and possibly save your marriage. However, privacy advocates aren't sure what drives these features and consider them another source of revenue for Fitbit, which can sell data to advertisers.
"Usual snoring is a nuisance to bed partners," Stanley Young Liu, a sleep surgeon at Stanford, said in 2016. Many patients are seeking care because they have been asked to leave the bedroom and sleep on the living room sofa. “Sleeping patients are often unaware of the apnea, which has serious health risks,” Lowe said.
Snoring can be linked to daytime complaints of drowsiness, headaches, or mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. It could also be a warning sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to the Mayo Clinic, a condition in which throat muscles relax and block the airway during sleep. OSA can lead to high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, and neurocognitive impairment. Fitbit warns that the snoring monitoring feature drains battery life, and recommends charging sevices to at least 40 percent before going to bed. Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 will be released at the end of September 2020.
Along with one of those smartwatches, to use the Snore & Noise Detect feature, the wearer will need a $10 monthly Fitbit subscription. Not everyone liked this offer.
"Narrow hardware and service requirements reduce the usefulness of noise detection," Engadget's Guy Fingus wrote. “However, it may be beneficial if you have already invested in the Fitbit ecosystem. It also gives Fitbit a potential advantage over competitors who rarely track noise during sleep.”
Google, which acquired Fitbit in January for nearly $2.1 billion, has invested even more in bedtime technology: In March, the company unveiled a new Nest Hub with a built-in sleep monitor that resolves frequent snoring and coughing. The seven-inch smart display, which retails for $100, is based on a new chip called Google Soli, which uses radar to detect motion, including the depth of a person's breathing.
The Nest Hub generates weekly sleep reports with details on the length and quality of sleep, and how often the user wakes up in the night, along with advice developed in consultation with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
With both Fitbit and Nest Hub updates, privacy advocates worry that a billion-dollar company with access to our nightly data is a risky proposition, especially given Google's history of collecting personal details like location history, habits, and interests to target them in online ads.
They also underscore Google's apparent intent to extend its tentacles into new areas of people's lives in its relentless quest to make more money, according to Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a consumer rights and privacy group.
"Google's goal is to monetize every cell in your body," Chester told The Associated Press in March.
Google has confirmed that there is privacy protection built into the Hub's sleep sensing feature, including the fact that owners must opt-in to activate it. Sleep data is also stored on the device itself, which means it won't be sent to Google's data centers, and "will not be used for marketing purposes," according to Google Nest project manager Ashton Udall.
Meanwhile, Fitbit's privacy message says the snoring data will be used to "improve our products and services and research new products." Google did not immediately respond to an email from DailyMail.com about how data from a Fitbit snoring device was used.