100104 Zeo

Topics: HRExaminer, John Sumser, Reviews, by John Sumser

100104 Zeo

I got a ZEO for Christmas. Billed as a ‘sleep coach’, the product is the tip of the iceberg in the next wave of consumer goods. Zeo measures and analyzes your sleep patterns with the general idea that one can take charge of one’s nocturnal productivity.

You wear a headband that wirelessly interacts with a device that resembles an alarm clock. Over the course of the time you’re in bed, the ZEO measures four sleep modes: awake, light sleep, REM sleep and deep sleep. In the morning, you get a score and a graph. The graph shows how your sleep went in five minute increments measuring which of the four modes you were in.

On some routine basis (seems like daily is probably right), you upload the data to the Myzeo.com website for analysis.

Once you establish a baseline, Zeo offers online coaching for optimizing the benefit you get from a good night’s sleep. As an added bonus, the alarm clock knows the optimum time to wake you. This feature helps avoid the horrible feeling you get when an alarm clock drags you out of a deep slumber. That hard-to-wake-up state is called ‘sleep inertia‘ and can take hours to recover from. Zeo offers a gentler waking experience.

The insight available from the Zeo is pretty amazing. For instance, whether or not you actually had a good night’s sleep doesn’t seem to be directly related to whether or not feel you did. As is often the case, self-insight can be dramatically skewed from the reality of a situation. Learning that my nightly ‘z-score’ was somewhat higher than the average for my age had the effect of making me change my mind about how well I am sleeping.

The more interesting prospect is the coaching part of the product. Essentially, Zeo offers a years worth of coaching and observing. Over that time, the service provides training, experimentation and insight. The online tools that are embedded in the service are designed to help you understand what is good about your particular sleep patterns and what might be improved. The product goal is to get you the best night’s sleep possible.

By now, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with HR.

Zeo is simply the forefront of an emerging trend. As sensors become embedded in everything, we are going to learn to use new levels of data to enhance our performance. Sleep is the first frontier. Self-monitoring or self-quantification will shift the way that people see themselves and the way that organizations operate.

A fairly interesting debate on the pros and cons of letting these devices into the workplace is the subject of a panel discussion I moderated over at Glassdoor.com. Although it’s framed as a medical information issue there, the subject is much more interesting than a health care debate. There are decided health-care implications. The real zinger, however, is in the area of one’s ability to control and transform one’s body and circumstances.

The following presentation will give you an idea of some of the many services that are becoming available. More than an medical information issue, this is a business productivity question. Increased personal awareness of health, fitness and behavioral factors will give people vastly more control over their performance.

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