By D'Mine Correspondent Wil Dubois
The photo is dark, but you can still see the sleeping child. She looks relaxed and peaceful, the hint of a smile on her sweet face. She is snuggling a stuffed animal. Maybe a bear. Maybe an elephant. On her wrist is a pink silicone bracelet with a glowing green screen.
The screen reads 109 mg/dL.
Another photo of the product shows a digital clock-style charging base with a Kindle-sized parent monitor on the nightstand of another dim room. We see the child's mom, also sleeping peacefully. The device shows the same 109 mg/dL blood sugar reading the child's bracelet displays. The time is 2:28 in the morning.
The tag line on the photo reads "no more sleepless nights."
No wonder the moms of diabetic children are going nuts over this product, called appropriately enough, Sleep Well.
Over the last few weeks the Facebook sites of the moms of type 1 kiddos have exploded with excitement over this system, described as a non-invasive infrared continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) bracelet with a portable parent monitor.
Super-mom Leighann of D-Mom Blog fame wrote us here at the 'Mine saying "So a TON of parents on Facebook are riled up and excited about this new product. And yes, what a dream (literally) it would be." Then she went on to say "But I don't think it is real."
So I guess it falls to me to break the bad news.
No, Virginia, there is no Sleep Well.
The fact is, Sleep Well never existed. Not in the real world anyway. But this isn't some sort of perverted hoax, either. It's a conceptual project — the internet version of a concept car at an auto show. But in a mix of careless writing and careless reading, has been represented in the blogosphere as the real thing.
Sleep Well is the brain child of Jordan Diatlo and Megan Langdon. Back in 2009 they were both recent design school graduates working bi-coastally on a submission for the DiabetesMine Design Challenge. Sleep Well was the result of, quoting their contest entry, "endless email threads we passed back and forth, countless brainstorm ideas, concept sketches, research findings, interesting interviews, and renderings."
Unfortunately, they were not winners (not even a finalist that year, because the concept was then considered too improbable), but what happened over the next few years is a testament to the power of the design they created.
In 2010, Megan tells me that she posted the design as part of her Coroflot profile. Later Tuvie, a site that Megan tells me is "a blogging site that posts unique and engaging designs" asked her if they could post her concept.
Between the spring and winter of 2010 at least seven different technology blogs pulled images off of one of the two original sites, and reported on Sleep Well. Some of the blogs were clear about reporting that Sleep Well was a "device concept," while many others were not, perhaps mistaking it for a system that was already in production.
In April of 2010 Home Tone, the Facebook page for the Instamedia Network that focuses on "contemporary home improvement trends" posted about Sleep Well adding "what a sigh of relief for parents." They obviously didn't do their homework, and didn't realize how much pain they could inflict on a whole community of D-parents by "teasing" them with what looked a miracle solution to all their woes!
It would be an easy mistake to make. Jordan and Megan created a compelling design and presented it in a slick, corporate way. Studying the photos and reading the ad copy you'd swear you were reading ad copy from big pharma, especially if you don't follow the industry closely, because Sleep Well, if it really existed, would be both a technological and regulatory quantum leap.
And anyone can see why parents would want it. The design shows a kid friendly bracelet that measures blood sugar without turning kids into pincushions. Plus, it's small, sporty, and is shown in five bright colors. It recharges by simply flopping it on it the surface of the charger. The parent monitor has an iPad like screen and flashes red and alarms when a low is detected. All of that, plus the thing has style. It looks modern. No more Soviet garage door openers from 1976, the look that graces most of our medical technology. Sleep Well looks like what the future was portrayed to look like in the move 2001 a Space Odyssey.
But Sleep Well remains nothing more than a design concept. A concept. And a three year old one at that. By a bizarre twist of internet fate it has risen into the limelight again like the Phoenix. Going viral in slow motion. Megan tells me "we never pursued its development beyond the concept phase."
Still, the flood of recent attention made her add "but we may look into it if there is overwhelming interest."
Editor's Note: We realize that the DiabetesMine Design Challenge fosters many exciting concepts that may never come to fruition. The aim has always been to encourage the industry to: 1) better understand what the real PWD market wants, and 2) "push the envelope" on design. Sleep Well scores well on both counts, and we do hope you'll all help us let these designers know that there is indeed "overwhelming interest"!