The story of the German team driving digital transformation for sleep

“Apple, Samsung and Fitbit move into sleep.
The mattress industry should use this tailwind to not get left behind”

Tobias Kirchhoff is the Founder & CEO of Variowell Development. This Ger- man-based R&D company develops solutions around comfort and sleep. Tobias is at the forefront of innovation as a member of the US National Sleep Founda- tion’s Sleeptech Council and Co-Chair of the CTA working group “Standardiza- tion of Sleeptech”. Within this group big tech companies define how to test the performance of Sleeptech devices.

“If your current bed is supposed to improve sleep
– why isn’t it doing anything during the night?”
Your claim sounds exciting. Tell us about your project ‘Tecciō’ which was presented at INTERZUM.
We have a portfolio of IP-rights on dynamic foams. These are foams which can change their firmness any- time without additional pumps or air-bladders. Just the foam itself becomes soft or firm. And these changes are so smooth, the sleeper will not be disturbed.

So that is behind the claim “feel the difference but not the change”?
Yes, exactly. With Tecciō we can modify the firmness during sleep. Just imagine your mattress being nice and soft for the sleep onset, but supportive during the night. Everything controlled by an App. The firmness change enables another feature, the prevention of deep sleep at wake-up time. And this is just the beginning. Tecciō will be able to use sleep-data generated by sleep trackers to impact sleep during the night.

Are the consumers ready for advanced sleep solutions?

Complicated solutions will fail. But digital tools are there to make it easy – and to create new business models. Why not give the consumer one or two func- tions at the beginning. Other functions are add-ons to be purchased later. This is a great basis for generating new revenue and for communicating with the consumer during the entire product lifetime.

Now we understand why you are co-chairing the CTA committee standardizing sleeptech. You want reliable sleep data for this technology.
Yes – and reliable devices are coming. For mattress manufacturers we have a message: The entry of big-tech with sleep related products can generate a welcome tail- wind for the industry –but only if you are able to connect and engage with them.

Tecciō – The firmness adjustable elements are visible in blue. The controller is a just a tiny box.

Kikoo-cool.science

thermal bands are placed two inches below the mattress surface for maximum cooling effect

Could you give us another example of a project Variowell is working on?
Sure. Let’s take Kikoo-cool.science. This is a natural cooling system using superoriented graphite to remove excess body heat.

There are so many ‘cooling’ technology out there – what makes Kikoo-cool.science special?
Part of our R&D are tests with real persons overnight sleeping and moving. We detected that the temperature differences within a mattress during sleep are large – creating surprisingly consistent “clouds” of heat in the foam. This heat is trapped as foam is insulating.

We developed thin strips of superoriented graphite, a new state-of-the-art material. These can be integrated into a mattress during production and allow the trapped heat to consistently flow outside. Kikoo-cool.science does not need electric power as we use natural cooling.

Retail always likes ideas on how to demonstrate such functions. Right, that’s the digital part. The effect can be demonstrated easily using an IR-camera attached to a smartphone. You can see the thermal energy being removed. Convincing and fun on the sales floor. Retail should be playful in the selling process to motivate consumers.