Justin Bullock, FISM News
Amazon has developed a new sleep tracking technology which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday. Amazon initially filed a request for waiver with the FCC in order to get the new device licensed and the FCC gave its approval on July 9, 2021. According to the waiver request, Amazon has indicated that the technology will track users’ movements with radar while they sleep.
This venture joins a number of others from Amazon as they look to move into the technological health monitoring business, seeking to compete with the top dogs in the space, Apple and Google. This technology resembles a number of similar technologies that monitors sleep, however it appears that Amazon’s radar technology will be the most sophisticated and advanced of any on the market thus far. In addition, the technology seems to have application beyond simply tracking a person’s sleep. Amazon has indicated that the technology may also be useful in the future for people who are deaf, blind, and dumb, enabling users to use different devices in and around their home simply with hand motions and even sign language.
The development of this new tech also comes with controversy as increasing scrutiny has been turned on giant tech companies like Amazon with respect to privacy concerns. Amazon’s Alexa device has already come under substantial criticism for the way it listened to private conversations in homes and sometimes even recorded them. Furthermore, people have grown increasingly wary of the way tech giants like Amazon use personal data that they record through their products in order to sell marketing information and targeted advertisement space to other companies. As a result, many people are suspicious that this new technology will just become another way for Amazon to infringe on people’s privacy.
For its part, Amazon wrote in their initial request for waiver that,
By capturing motion in a three-dimensional space, a Radar Sensor can capture data in a manner that enables touchless device control. As a result, users can engage with a device and control its features through simple gestures and movements… These devices would enable users to estimate sleep quality based on movement patterns. The use of Radar Sensors in sleep tracking could improve awareness and management of sleep hygiene, which in turn could produce significant health benefits for many Americans.
However, medical consensus about sleep monitoring technology is still divided. Many doctors do not believe that monitoring someone’s movement while they sleep ultimately tells us anything medically useful, but the debate is still ongoing.