What the Tech?: The Napwell Face Mask Wakes You Up Slowly

Mimicking a morning sunrise, it leaves users feeling "refreshed" for the day.

Image Via Kickstarter.com

Image Via Kickstarter.com

While a quick nap feels great once your head hits the pillow, arising from a brief slumber often leaves people feeling groggy and out of it.

But engineers from MIT, Harvard Medical School, and Stanford, have teamed up to try and fix that by creating a specialized sleep mask that makes those taking a mid-day siesta feel like they got a full eight hours of sleep.

Called the “Napwell,” the padded mask is designed to keep users refreshed after taking a quick snooze by using a system that mocks the sun rising, gently waking people from sleep.

“The Napwell helps you nap more efficiently and have more productive lives,” according to Justin Lee,an MIT Ph.D candidate, and one of the creators of the mask.

Lee claims that regardless of how well you sleep each night, naps have been shown to boost your memory, creativity, and ability to store knowledge—so taking one is often necessary.

But sometimes, Lee said, people can experience what’s known as “sleep inertia,” when suddenly interrupted during a sleep cycle, which can lead to grogginess, and interferes with a person’s ability to take on physical or mental tasks.

Using the Napwell mask solves those problems, according to Lee.

“[It] gradually wakens your senses via a simulated sunrise,” he said. “The inside of our patent-pending mask lights up slowly, just like a perfect morning. By gradually waking your senses, Napwell helps you wake up feeling refreshed, and ready to go.”

Users merely set the amount of time they want to take a nap for, using a hands-on button on the front of the battery-powered Napwell mask, place it onto their face, and then simply doze off.

The mask is designed to then wake the user up at the designated time by slowly shining light onto a person’s eyes.

Lee suggests using the mask in places like planes—to relieve jet lag and fatigue when traveling—and at home when taking a quick break during the day.

Lee and his team have created several prototypes of the Napwell product, but now they are seeking funding to help pay for production costs.

Already, with 32 days left to raise money, Lee and engineers that created the mask are more than halfway to their Kickstarter goal, and have raised roughly $17,000. Lee said the group needs around $30,000 to bring the mask to fruition.

The plan is to build off of the prototypes they have already created, and begin pilot manufacturing by May of 2014. They hope to have the mask shipped out to their Kickstarter backers by as early as September.