Amid the driverless cars, robots, virtual reality headsets, industrial equipment and examples of every area of tech on show at the Open Innovations forum held at the Skolkovo Technopark this week, some looked a little out of place. An inviting-looking double bed, complete with plush bedding, for example, stood out and at times may have looked tempting to the innovators who spend three busy days at the forum meeting with potential partners and investors, attending panel discussions and showing off their wares.
Ilya Blokhin, CEO of Eco Sleep, holds an example of the device at the Open Innovations forum. Photo: Sk.ru.
The bed itself was not the innovation, but merely the counterpart to a small device placed on the table next to it. Eco Sleep is described by its inventors – residents of the Skolkovo Foundation’s biomed cluster – as a “device for non-pharmacological, non-invasive, contactless normalization of sleep.”
Resembling a small black cubic speaker, Eco Sleep uses weak magnetic field pulses to affect the sleeping human body within a radius of 150-200 cm from it. Pulses in the range of 1-20 Hz stimulate deep sleep, while those in the range of 20-40 Hz make sleep lighter and cause vivid and even lucid dreams, the makers say.
The device can be controlled either using buttons on the cube itself, or via a mobile app. It has four built-in programmes: deep, dreamless sleep, short and effective sleep, light sleep and vivid dreams, or lucid dreaming. It contains an alarm clock, and if users complete a lightning survey upon awakening, the device will analyse the user’s sleep patterns and offer recommendations for improving sleep quality.
The product is due to go on sale in March 2019, and the company is already accepting advance orders, with the box priced at 6,590 rubles ($100), compared to 7,990 rubles when sales are launched.
The Private Nap capsule was in demand from people seeking to recharge throughout the forum. Photo: Sk.ru.
Quality sleep was also on offer at another stall just a few rows down from Eco Sleep, where fellow Skolkovo resident Private Nap was demonstrating its relaxation and restorative sleep capsules. Resembling a dentist’s chair covered with a spherical pod to give the user some privacy, the capsules are designed to allow office workers to restore their levels of energy and concentration.
“The person gets in, puts on headphones, and can switch off and even doze,” explained Viktor Khodanov, one of the company’s founders. The team behind Private Nap have developed their own programme that uses sound to stimulate the parts of the brain responsible for deep relaxation, he said.
“This soundtrack helps the person to relax faster than if they were just sitting quietly, and when the person is shut off from external disturbances, the effect is doubled,” said Khodanov.
A session in the capsule lasts for 20 minutes, after which the capsule begins to very gently wake up the person, if they have fallen asleep, using the adjustable chair’s massage elements.
“A 20-minute session is really refreshing, and helps to restore mental and intellectual functions – memory, attention, concentration – the things that suffer most of all when a person is tired. So the capsule is a way of restoring your working ability during the working day,” said Khodanov.
Robots of various sizes, shapes and purposes were on show at the exhibition. Photo: Sk.ru.
The capsules, which retail for 970,000 rubles ($15,000) are already in use at Sberbank, RusHydro, Yandex, and other major companies, he said. The initial cost of buying the capsule is recouped within the first year because its use increases productivity by 34 percent and helps employees to overcome stress, the company claims.
Private Nap, a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s biomed cluster since the end of last year, is currently perfecting its programme with the help of the foundation, said Khodanov.
“We are adding contactless sensors that will measure the user’s heartbeat and breathing to understand how the capsule is affecting the person right now, and change its regime in real time to adapt to that particular person, because everyone is different, and some people will like a certain sound while others will not,” he said.
The capsule will also be able to give the user feedback on how stressed they were and how far they managed to relax, he said.
Oleg Kovalev, development director at Brosk, demonstrates the indoor unit of a geothermal heat pump. Photo: Sk.ru.
Among the industrial startups on show at Open Innovations, Brosk was presenting its heat pumps, which can be used for both heating and air-conditioning, as well as to provide hot water. Geothermal heat pumps use the difference in temperature deep in the earth as both a source of heat in winter and for cooling systems in summer, and are ecologically friendly, since they don’t produce carbon dioxide emissions or other waste. In addition to the ground, the pumps can also use the air, lakes and rivers or even sewage runoff and waste emissions as a source, said Oleg Kovalev, Brosk’s development director.
“For example, our regular client Mosvodokanal, which is responsible for the utilization of all of Moscow’s liquid household waste, regularly installs our heat pumps to take heat from sewage runoff,” he told Sk.ru.
“Our clients also include restaurants, such as Burger King, which never turn off their stoves and are constantly frying and have their extractor fans turned on all the time. They heat things and then expel that heat,” said Kovalev.
“That hot air is very difficult to utilize, because it’s dirty. We have a heat exchanger that removes heat regardless of how dirty the air is: that’s our unique development,” he added.
A forum participant trying out virtual reality technology at the Open Innovations forum. Photo: Sk.ru.
Heat pumps are currently used far less in Russia than in Europe, where subsidies for their installation are widely available, said Kovalev.
“In Europe, the market for geothermal pumps from our competitors there is about 250,000 per year; in Russia it’s about 2,000,” he said.
Brosk has a competitive advantage in terms of its price, however: a turnkey solution costs 543,720 rubles ($8,300), while its competitors start at 817,200 rubles, according to the company. Brosk has established a presence in Russia at large-scale industrial premises, as well as at private dwellings, and has made individual sales of its heat pumps abroad, said Kovalev.
The company, based in the city of Obninsk in the Kaluga region, is in the final stages of obtaining resident status at the Skolkovo Foundation, and has set its sights on opening a lab in the Skolkovo Technopark to demonstrate their product to potential clients using a test stand.
Other innovations on show at the three-day Open Innovations forum included NeuroChat (a brain-computer interface that allows disabled people to communicate), a snowbike, Texel’s 3D body scanner, a virtual reality chemistry lab, and the Botkin.AI platform that uses artificial intelligence for diagnosis and disease risk assessment.