Interview with Daniel Gartenberg
Co-Founder & CEO @ Proactive Life, Inc.

We are developing a new technology to detect and improve sleep and disrupt clinical care in the United States. We make iPhone apps to address the problem of poor Sleep Health, including Sonic Sleep Coach, sleep-2-Peak, and Mind Metrics. We offer coaching services for individuals and corporate wellness programs. Click here to find out more.
Hi Daniel! Could you please introduce your work with Sleep Sonic and what led to your co-founding Proactive Life, Inc.? How was the venture born out of your academic career at Penn State?
Hi, my name's Dan Gartenberg and I'm the founder of Sonic Sleep AI a sleep technology where we're trying to actually make people sleep more regenerative by creating ideal sound, light and temperature environments designed to enhance people's deep sleep. This venture was brought out by the simple idea that sleep is the human behavior that we do the most of, so if we could just improve people's sleep quality even by a small percentage this would have a massive global health implication. The venture was born out now almost 10 years ago when I was actually a senior in college and my job at a brainstorming company was to sort through all their best ideas and one of the ideas was an alarm clock that measured sleep. This inspired me to develop one of the first iPhone apps on the store back in 2010 and win an engineering competition and then get a PHC in cognitive psychology studying the science of sleep and basically making artificial intelligence models of how people sustain attention and perform in different tasks based on how sleep deprived they are After realizing that with new Internet of Things devices like the Apple Watch, it was the perfect moment to finally create this idea of making people sleep more regenerative, I began to apply for a number of grants and through a collaboration with a famous researcher at Penn State, we ended up getting two grants one from the National Institute of Health, and one from the National Institute of age of and the National Science Foundation to finally be able to make this technology to make people sleep more regenerative.
From idea to launch, what did the development process of Sleep Sonic look like? What did the first iteration of the app feature?
It's been a long process making this software and we've gone through a lot of iterations over time and we've learned a lot. One of the first apps that we made called proactive sleep It actually required people to enter a lot of information about their sleep habits and we tried to surface relevant patterns in their behavior, one thing that we found in that process is basically that people are very unwilling to enter a lot of information it's cumbersome, we actually published the paper in person 1 and ubiquitous computing about this. So our idea is to try to make things as automated as possible, and one of the ways that we're doing this is we're integrating sleep trick tracking in the everyday process of setting an alarm, so we basically launched our alpha build and we're kind of still in stealth mode right now, we're launching a full product in a month or so in about February 2019, so right now you can get our app on the store. It does deep sleep stimulation and the Apple store plays basically soothing sounds and sounds that mascot noise pollution which is actually one of the major causes of sleep disruption, even something as innocuous as like an air conditioning turning on can actually disrupt your sleep and negatively impact your sleep quality. So we measure sound in the room with the microphone of the phone and then systematically and adaptively blackout noise pollution and then play these deep sleep stimulating sounds to make the sleep more regenerative and then actually wake you up very gradually over time if you set an alarm, and that's the right way to wake up, but more is coming soon in about one month we're releasing an Android iPhone and basically every wearable device on the market that can accurately detect heart rate and motion data. It's exciting. So more to come there.
What have been some of the biggest changes in the field of sleep research and technology in the past five years? How are our changing lifestyles affecting our sleep processes?
So probably one of the biggest changes in the research in the past five years on sleep is this finding that you can actually play sounds that can make your sleep more regenerative, and there's this was first discovered just about five years ago actually in 2013, and in a number of research labs have verified this. There's various devices out there that have been shown to do this as well, many of them with a headset, I've been in this phase for a while and I'm a little bit critical of people actually going to wear a headset while they're sleeping throughout the night, so you know what we've tried to do, which is unique in the field, is administer this deep sleep stimulation and something as simple as an Apple Watch and we're publishing a paper right now, Sonic Sleep is publishing this paper where we actually show that this system can work to make deeps sleep deeper with something as simple as an Apple Watch or anything else that can measure heart rate and motion data. One of the things that I think has happened with technology in the last five years is people are so addicted to their smartphones and there's a lot of talk about the blue light from smartphones which is bad, there are some solutions to try to mitigate that like flux and night shift on your phone, but there's also other you know basic cognitive behavioral therapy things that are A.I. Sonic Sleep solution is going to give you feedback on, like even things like you're inside all the time with this new technology getting light exposure during the daytime is another way to improve people's sleep, and basically we want to try to deactivate the fight or flight response system, that's people are basically always on from these devices, so that's another angle that we're pursuing to try to help people sleep.
What are some of the most innovative and groundbreaking ways AI has been used in the cross section of wearables and sleep analysis? How does knowing one's "Sleep Age" help customers improve their sleeping habits?
So this is an interesting question how have AI actually been used to improve people's sleep? And you know right now where we're at it hasn't really been used to its full potential, so one of the things that it has been used for is you know, we had these big data sets now and with motion and heart rate data, if you have it alongside truth data, which I like to call poly stenography data which is how we kind of build these models, you can create pretty good models of people's sleep, but one of the things that's kind of lacking in the field and what we're trying to address is what do you actually do once you know how much sleep you're getting in and what your quality sleep is, and what we've built is basically a layer on top of the A.I. that detects the sleep, a heuristic layer more based on what we detect, we give customized feedback, so the system we've created this concept of sleep age where we basically summarize various statistics about your sleep and give you an overall score based on the basically the eight main components that make up your sleep, this is things like deep sleep, how much sleep you get, the timing of sleep, the amount of REM sleep you get, all these factors put together you get an overall score on an individual score and all the components and then based on this we give customized feedback and specific things that you can do to actually improve your sleep quality. So if it's that you snore at night, we'll give you interventions to address snoring, this is all about precision medicine, and this is the direction that the health care system needs to take if we're gonna solve this problem in the future.
What's next for your work with both your academic career and Sonic Sleep? What are the main projects, partnerships, and launches will you be focusing on in 2019?
So in 2019, you know we were just focusing on our goals for this year and we've got a lot in store. We're applying for a grant, actually a second grant for the National Institute of Aging where we're trying to show that our system can improve people's sleep quality and 70 and up populations and actually scientifically demonstrate that can act as a neuroprotective mechanism against dementia and Alzheimer's and so we're going to give our system to the 70 and up population in their homes hook them up to Polish tomography with our system and then actually deliver the deep sleep stimulation, ideal light environments, and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia using our A.I. assistance to actually demonstrate we can improve their sleep quality, next day cognitive performance and then even potentially reduce the likelihood that they're going to get diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. As far as the product goes, you know we're launching all we're launching our full product next year, we want to show that you know people like using it that it works with the various systems and we want to actually get this out there so you know, I appreciate this interview, and yet tell your friends what we're building, It's going to work on basically every wearable and it will even work, If you want to put your phone just on your bedside, we have a form factor for that right now actually, so you know we're trying to work with all the best systems, make it really easy for people and eventually, even someone like your clinician might be able to use our system to make your sleep more regenerative, if you go to them with the sleep problem that's kind of our big picture vision for the company.