Personalised, Predictive and Preventive Healthcare: Pioneering Sheffield SME SleepCogni creates clinician support system to improve sleep for insomniacs

Local Sheffield company, SleepCogni, are clinically validating a system that will improve sleep and allow for remote patient monitoring. Student Joe Hawkins, from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE) at the University of Sheffield, has been involved in the project and has shown via his final year project work that SleepCogni can predict the onset of sleep through measurements taken by their wearable device.

SleepCogni Group PhotoSleep is a cornerstone of health and wellbeing and SleepCogni are developing a product that delivers a unique wind down process to promote sleep. The system can deliver multiple interventions that support cognitive behavioural therapy. Their patented active biofeedback intervention works through visual, auditory and tactile cues, to help users relearn sleep. The personalised biofeedback is based on the measurement of a range of physiological and behavioural measures related to sleep, to swiftly and effectively guide you towards sleep initiation. The SleepCogni system measures behavioural physiological and environmental factors by means of a handheld trigger and a bedside base-station and provides personalised therapy to improve sleep.

SleepCogni contacted Dr George Panoutsos from ACSE to help bridge the gap between their sophisticated hardware capabilities and their challenges capturing the analytical medical relevant data. To counteract this problem Dr Panoutsos worked with SleepCogni to create a final year student project which would give the student a year to address this challenge via human-centric machine learning methods.

I learned how to apply my studies in an industry situation and in particular, how to work with an exciting and ground-breaking start-up. I would never have got the chance to do so if it had not been for ACSE and The University of Sheffield.

Joe hawkins, ACSE student

Dr George Panoutsos comments:

“It’s fantastic to see that our students are given the opportunity via our collaborative research links to work on research challenges with real life impact. Joe has thoroughly enjoyed this experience, with the added bonus of receiving the Departmental “Euler Award” for his project work and getting a job offer by SleepCogni!”

Joe Hawkins, a BEng Systems and Control Engineering student, was able to use the SleepCogni system to predict the onset of sleep through measurements taken by their system, using a data-driven Neural-Fuzzy modelling. This is a significant milestone in the development of the device, towards a commercial product, as this research work shows for the first time the capability to reliably determine the onset of sleep without taking electroencephalogram measurements.

Joe Hawkins adds,

“Collaborating with SleepCogni on my dissertation was a brilliant experience. This provided the perfect stepping stone from studying at university to my first full-time job. I learned how to apply my studies in an industry situation and in particular, how to work with an exciting and ground-breaking start-up. I would never have got the chance to do so if it had not been for ACSE and The University of Sheffield.”

He continues,

“Most student expectations are that they will use only a small part of what they learn at university, once they have graduated. However, with the opportunity that I have with SleepCogni I use a different aspect of my degree on a daily basis making the work that I put into it all the more worthwhile.”

Following this student success SleepCogni have employed Joe, and they are planning to obtain FDA approval and pursue clinical use, as a medical grade system.

SleepCogni Images

SleepCogni are high flyers in the sector and have been nominated and shortlisted for a number of awards, including; the Medilink Healthcare 'Innovation' awards where they won the ‘Start-up Award’ in 2016, and have been shortlisted again in 2018. The Medilink Healthcare 'Innovation' award is one of the most prestigious healthcare awards in the industry. The 'Innovation' awards are in association with Insider, and will see industry, academia and the NHS come together to toast the achievements of health sector organisations across the North.

Richard Mills, SleepCogni Founder comments:

“Joe demonstrated both his capacity for hard work and his enthusiasm for SleepCogni while writing his dissertation. He also proved his ability to collaborate within industry and conduct important research – culminating in him receiving the Euler award for his project. His understanding of the vision of SleepCogni and his excellent output led to us employing him as soon as he graduated; enabling him to continue his research and become an integral part of our team.”

He adds:

“Sleep plays an important role in health and wellbeing. Combining SleepCogni’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr Maan van de Werken’s knowledge as a sleep expert and chronobiologist with experts in data-driven models and machine learning, from ACSE, allowed for SleepCogni to develop a highly personalised system to improve sleep.”

Richard concludes:

“The partnership between SleepCogni and ACSE allowed for ground breaking research. SleepCogni is now able to identify and accurately map the physiological markers that consistently identify the stages of sleep of an individual. These findings have enabled us to progress onto the next stage of clinical trials - allowing our team to grow in size and serving as an important milestone as we try to attract further investment.” 

Learn more about SleepCogni