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HoneyNaps dreams big in digital insomnia treatment business

Startups 11:08 May 23, 2023

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas, a luxury hotel in southern Seoul, offered a special service for guests who stayed in its rooms on the 21st floor from February to April.

Under the "Explore New Sleep" package, the rooms' mattresses were equipped with a sleep sensing software, named Somnum, developed by Korean digital health care startup HoneyNaps.

It tracks biosignals from the guests while they are sleeping and analyzes the collected polysomnographic readings through an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm. The next day, the guests receive a report on their biosignal interpretations and sleep conditions through their smartphones.

This image provided by HoneyNaps shows its artificial intelligence-powered sleep diagnosis software Somnum. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This image provided by HoneyNaps shows its artificial intelligence-powered sleep diagnosis software Somnum. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

HoneyNaps said the service earned favorable responses from the hotel guests, as an average of 70 percent of the rooms on the 21st floor were occupied over the three months, higher than rooms on other floors.

"Our monitoring software installed in the hotel mattresses analyzes biosignals, such as body temperature, heart rate, breathing and bodily movement, during sleep to detect abnormal symptoms," Lee Young-jun, co-founder and CEO of the company, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

"The next morning, customers can check their sleeping habits and get solutions for their possible symptoms, like insomnia."

Based on the popularity of the program at the Parnas hotel, HoneyNaps joined hands with Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun in central Seoul to operate a similar sleep analysis service for the next six months.

Lee said those hotel service packages are a test run of the company's long-term plan to install the program in apartment residences to help people monitor their sleeping habits and prevent possible disorders every day at home. It is now in talks with South Korea's leading builder, GS Engineering & Construction Co., for the project, he added.

This image provided by HoneyNaps shows its artificial intelligence-powered sleep treatment software Somnum-Medella. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This image provided by HoneyNaps shows its artificial intelligence-powered sleep treatment software Somnum-Medella. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Somnum was designed to analyze polysomnographic readings in a simple way at home, as it takes hours to get sleep specialists' analysis and advice after complex medical insomnia tests at clinics with tens of electronic patches on the body.

"Each person has different sleeping patterns and quality, so they need customized solutions," he said. "While doctors diagnose a patient with a sleeping disorder, patients need a separate platform to keep monitoring their sleeping patterns and detect unusual movements."

He noted a growing number of people are suffering from sleeping disorders and demand for digital health care services to ease the symptoms is also expanding.

According to data by South Korea's Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of insomnia patients rose to 680,000 in 2021 from 420,000 in 2012.

A recent U.S. health report showed that nearly 70 million Americans are fighting sleep disturbances, with 30 percent of adults experiencing short-term insomnia. And sleeping disorders became a US$76 billion market worldwide in 2020.

This image provided by HoneyNaps shows its artificial intelligence-powered treatment software Somnum-Modella. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This image provided by HoneyNaps shows its artificial intelligence-powered treatment software Somnum-Modella. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Somnum's contactless vital signs monitoring system is powered by an AI algorithm, which has been trained with more than 18 million sets of related data for the past eight years, to collect and analyze sleep data, and predict the disease by applying it to a clinical practice.

HoneyNaps has 14 patents in sectors of biosignal sensing, AI analysis and insomnia treatment, while it has carried out a total of six clinical trials since it was founded in 2015.

"We don't offer a uniform solution to all users. Instead, our individual sensing and analysis program gives them customized solutions," he said. "Based on their own analysis, people can manage their diet programs, insurance programs or medical treatment to prevent possible risks."

He said HoneyNaps is the only medi-tech startup in Korea that offers an all-in-one program for detecting sleeping patterns, analyzing data and treating disorders.

It was chosen as one of the 1,000 innovative companies by the South Korean government in 2022 for its world-leading contactless health care sensing and analyzing technologies.

HoneyNaps is now eying the global market, as it is seeking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval for the AI-backed health care software and treatment.

"Sleeping disorders are closely connected with cerebral, cardiovascular and endocrine diseases, and cancer," he said. "We are working on expanding our business horizons to give solutions for those diseases based on biosignals during sleep. All global medi-tech companies of the kind are our rivals."

This photo provided by HoneyNaps shows its employees posing for a photo on May 22, 2023. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This photo provided by HoneyNaps shows its employees posing for a photo on May 22, 2023. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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