Sound masking aids sleep


BOSTON—Nothing is worse than a bad night’s sleep in a hotel room before heading down to a conference for the day. Noises, especially environmental noises, can interrupt beauty rest at all hours of the night. One smart sleep system solutions provider believes it can prevent these distractions from obstructing an entire day—or week—of work. 

“Nightingale is a smart sleep system that helps hotel guests fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer,” said Christopher Calisi, CEO at Nightingale Smart Solutions Inc., an IoT smart sleep system solutions company based here. “Nightingale uses sound-masking technology to block unwanted outdoor and indoor noises that disrupt sleep.”

Nightingale first launched on Kickstarter less than two years ago; it began shipping in March 2017. Acoustic experts and audio engineers at Cambridge Sound Management—which was founded in 2001 by an MIT PhD in acoustics—created Nightingale. 

“The inspiration came from our remote sales teams, who were sleeping with our commercial sound-masking demo kit in their rooms while traveling for work,” he said. This is where the company saw available opportunity—in both residential and hospitality—by applying expertise to both markets.

“A good night’s sleep is critical to the guest experience, and Nightingale enables hospitality brands to reduce noise complaints, earn better online reviews, and reduce room reimbursement charges,” he said. “Nightingale was designed by experts in sound masking and has been clinically proven in a sleep study.”

Conducted by Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Nightingale helped study participants fall asleep 38% faster than when they tried to fall asleep without the smart sleep system. Nightingale was shown to significantly reduce sleep onset latency (the time it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep). The outcome of sleeping with it was comparable to taking an above average dose of prescription sleep medication, the study results also revealed. 

“Nightingale uses specifically designed ambient sounds (called sound blankets) to mask noises that interrupt a user’s sleeping schedule,” Calisi said. “The sound blankets were created by our acoustic engineers to balance effectiveness of masking sounds and yet be comfortable and non-localized to the human ear. Think of our sound blankets as extremely advanced white noise, but delivered in a surround-sound experience and optimized for individual room acoustics.”

Nightingale can help with a range of disruptive sounds, including voices, environmental noises and other domestic noises. The solution is targeted for bedrooms, infant/toddler rooms, hospital rooms and hotel rooms. Note: Nightingale isn’t a music playback device.

The Nightingale sleep system is packaged with two independent units. Each unit contains two micro-speakers; they provide uniform sound-masking coverage throughout the bedroom. “The units are plugged into the wall for power and feature pass-through plugs so properties do not lose precious outlet space,” Calisi said. “Nightingale units can even be placed behind furniture since the system uses the guestroom walls to dissipate the ambient sound into the room.” 

The company’s sleep system is WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled; additionally, Nightingale can be controlled via an API from either the front desk or in-room system. 

Most hotel properties operate Nightingale without any guest interaction. These properties set it to be automated, scheduled to power on and off at set times. Properties pre-select the ideal sound blanket based on room acoustics.

“The Nightingale sound blankets blend into the environment unnoticed,” he said. “The goal is to help guests sleep without them having to get involved with another in-room technology.”

Properties already leveraging Nightingale include those from the following brands: Marriott Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites, W Hotels, Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Those currently piloting Nightingale include Hampton by Hilton, IHG and Hyatt properties.

“We will continue partnering with major hospitality brands, as well as smaller, privately owned properties as they look to enhance their guest experience,” Calisi said. “Anyone in the hospitality business can benefit from the sound-masking technology of Nightingale, giving their guests a better night’s rest and a more relaxing stay.”

Costs vary on the following conditions: number of units ordered, available discounts and professional installation support. Properties can order an evaluation unit for about $200. 

“Some hotels have their internal IT or ops teams set up the units,” Calisi said. “We provide helpful product information and setup instructions, including front desk material for staff training. We are dedicated to delivering a great onboarding experience to our hospitality customers.”

There’s a strong demand coming from both consumer and residential. “We noticed a few hotel owners as backers during our Kickstarter campaign, so that gave us some early insight that our value proposition was resonating in hospitality,” he said. “Sleep, along with health and fitness, are hot topics in our society. Noise issues are prevalent both at home and on the road, so we are fortunate enough to have an easy solution that solves a very real problem. Nightingale was designed to fit into the modern bedroom environment seamlessly and with a low profile, so this plays out well both in residential and hospitality.” The smart home sleep product leverages both WiFi and cloud control. 

Nightingale has native voice command integration with Google Home and Alexa. The product can work with devices that operate on the IFTTT (if this, then that) platform. 

“We worked closely with the teams at Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to get native skills and integration implemented and approved,” Calisi said.

The company claims there is no other product like Nightingale on the market today, even though there are other white-noise machine solutions available. “Unlike traditional white-noise machines, Nightingale uses a room’s walls to reflect sound so your brain cannot localize the source,” he said. “Nightingale also takes into account a room’s details, including flooring, furniture, absorptive materials and more, in order to suggest the sound frequency that works best in that space. Also available for properties is the solution’s standard decor anti-theft wall plate lock. 

“Nightingale is at the intersection of smart home technology, acoustics and wellness,” Calisi continued. “The possibilities are endless. Nightingale started as a consumer electronic device to be used in the home, but the value proposition and feature set were a strong match for the hospitality market. Feedback from properties using Nightingale has been very positive. They are on the front line, dealing with noise complaints and are looking to be proactive in providing noise-prevention solutions that can scale easily across properties.” HB