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The Accrescent Podcast Ep. 150 Michael Byrne - From Deep Sleep to Bright Mornings: The BIA Smart Sleep Mask


Michael Byrne – From Deep Sleep to Bright Mornings: The BIA Smart Sleep Mask


Episode Summary

Do you struggle to sleep soundly and wake up energized? Meet the Bía Smart Sleep Mask! Today, Leigh Ann is speaking with Michael Byrne, co-founder of Bía, to discuss the extensive research and engineering behind the product. The mask features unique technologies including neurofeedback, neural music, and a sunrise alarm, aiming to help users fall asleep faster, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. With features like 100% blackout design, contactless sensors, and customizable sound experiences, the Bía Smart Sleep Mask is presented as a revolutionary step in sleep technology.  Michael talks about what inspired the Bía, the personal and business challenges of bringing such a product to market, and so much more.

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Leigh Ann: Okay. Well, Michael, welcome to the Accrescent podcast, the Accrescent community. I’m super ecstatic to have you on today and, and dive into all things BIA, but welcome.

Michael Byrne: Yeah. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Leigh Ann: I found you guys originally on Instagram, which might be where a lot of people are coming across you. Um, and I was like, Oh, this is interesting.

There’s a lot of different things going on here. And you know what the hilarious thing was is as soon as I found you guys and followed you, of course, I’m immediately getting like 10 ads for all the other different sleep masks out there, which actually I was for the first time ever kind of glad about.

Cause then I was looking at all of them and comparing and, and it just kind of reiterated, I think how special BIA is compared to what’s out there and we’re going to get into all that. But before we do. A little bit of an introduction, you know, to who you are and then kind of what led to bia and do you say bia or get bia.

Michael Byrne: Uh, we refer to it as BIA. Yeah. [00:01:00] Typically. Yeah. Get BIA is the, the web link getbia. com, but yeah, it’s BIA and BIA neuroscience or like. The B. I. sleep mask. Yeah.

Leigh Ann: Yeah. Okay. Perfect. bia.

Michael Byrne: Yeah. So

Leigh Ann: the origin story. Take us through it.

Michael Byrne: yeah. Um, I’ll do a quick life story for you. Um, so I studied psychology in school. Um, I’ve always very, been very interested in the why, uh, behind things. Why do we walk the way we do? Why do we communicate at all? Um, you know, I just, that kind of led me down that path towards psychology is why do we do anything?

And when I was there and studying, uh, I found that kind of led me towards biopsychology of, you know, the brain was kind of being a major root behind a lot of the behavior. And in that process, um, you know, I was thinking I was going to go the PhD route, go clinical psychology. I, I loved, uh, like paranoid [00:02:00] schizophrenia that fascinated me and really grabbed my attention.

And I was really fortunate to get an internship with a group that worked with paranoid schizophrenia. So, uh, I very quickly learned studying and working in the field are two vastly different things. Uh, uh, you know, working with paranoid schizophrenia was really just upsetting. Um, you know, these people are just constantly living in fear.

They’re heavily medicated. It just wasn’t what I was anticipating, uh, as an experience. Um, and I’m very glad I did that because I quickly just, you know what? Um, I’m going to get out into the working world and find what I actually like because this is what I thought I like studying versus working with, uh, so I ended up working at a neurofeedback clinic.

So I was working largely with EEG sensors there, uh, measuring brain activity and, you know, looking to adjust that with neurofeedback sessions, uh, wide range of issues, um, anxiety, depression, insomnia, uh, you know, [00:03:00] concussions. It’s really weird. Pretty much anyone coming through the door that was looking for something that they couldn’t find elsewhere.

Leigh Ann: Yeah,

Michael Byrne: Um,

Leigh Ann: I’m, I’m taking a deep breath because I had my sixth concussion in October of last year. So I’m like, yeah, I need all the, all the neurofeedback I can get. So anyways, yes, I’m with you on that and how impactful it can be. Yeah.

Michael Byrne: Um, I won’t go down that rabbit hole, but personally check out, um, health tech connects as well. They’re a different neurotech company. Uh, they’re also based out of Vancouver, Canada, but fantastic people. They do great work.

Leigh Ann: Health. Say the, say the second word again. Health.

Michael Byrne: I’m just going to double check that I said that correctly. Uh, yeah. Health tech connects, uh, but like, like to connect, but with an X instead of a CT,

Leigh Ann: Okay. Actually, I’m going to grab a pen and write it down.

Michael Byrne: yeah, they’ve done some

Leigh Ann: have you heard of, um, [00:04:00] Saraset?

Michael Byrne: no.

Leigh Ann: It’s C E R S E T. This is one I know of, um, a type of neurofeedback too, that I’ve actually recommended to a lot of clients and they’ve had great results. Great impact with. Okay. Health tech connects. Okay. I’m going to write that down. Yeah.

Michael Byrne: Yeah.

Leigh Ann: So sorry to derail you there.

Michael Byrne: yeah, no worries. No worries. I’m, I’m always happy to support the neurotech community as a whole too. So,

Leigh Ann: Yeah.

Michael Byrne: um, yeah. So what, what had everyone coming through the door? And while I was there, one question that we always asked was, how was your sleep? And a big reason why we did that is it became a bit more of an, uh, a clear objective way to see how someone was doing, uh, asking someone who has been suffering from clinical depression for five years, Hey, how you doing today?

They’re either gonna go through a auto response of yeah, I’m good. How are you? Or they’re unhappy that you [00:05:00] just asked them and they’re having to delve into them. Whereas how did you sleep was an experience that they could quantify, they could kind of take a moment and pause and reflect on how they feel in that moment and give a bit more of a genuine answer.

Leigh Ann: Mm

Michael Byrne: So that’s where I started to get to exposure on the sleep side of things. It’s also where I started to get to get an exposure on the business side of things. Um, so I, I like to joke that I studied psychology to learn all eventually become my father. And my, my dad as a CEO was a CFO for most of his life.

Um, so started really liking the business side of things, working on the systems rather than directly ended up moving into operations and moved on from there to a sleep supplement company. So, um, I was hired number two, uh, my now co founder at be, uh, Andrew was hired number one. So he handled everything on the front end.

I handled everything on the back end of the business and we were growing that side. Um, and we’re selling up to 500 bottles a day at that cup. [00:06:00] So a massive number of customers and exposure to sleep as a whole. And we’ve got to kind of deep dive into that. And see the struggles that came with that as well.

Um, yeah. And what we noticed was with supplements, there was a fairly high turnover rate. Mel, you know, your body adapts to the chemicals that you’re putting into it. It stops producing it as much themselves. And then you stop getting the benefits that you once were. And also sleep is an incredibly complex problem.

Uh, so to isolate it, to just not having enough melatonin usually isn’t the full picture. Um, so what happens is your baseline improves. Um, you know, you start taking the sleep and you’re at 10 out of a hundred, which you thought was 50 and you’re now at 25. And now you’re realizing your sleep still not where you want it to be.

It’s just better than what it was. Uh, so yeah, so we worked together together there for quite a while. I know moving on, but stayed in touch, stayed in contact. And [00:07:00] we wanted to work together again. I wanted to go back into Neurotech. His background was actually IBM, a bit more on the software side of things.

So we started doing a bit of a customer discovery, doing as much research as we could, researched a ton of Neurotech companies, nearly a thousand that we looked through, surveyed thousands of people, and started looking at how do we actually Build something that’s going to help people in the most effective way.

And, uh, it was kind of in front of our nose the whole time. Like, you know, my wife doesn’t sleep well either. So I had that big motivation of looking at sleep again, and it ended up being what we saw as the most effective way to help people right now improve their health was building something that truly optimizes your sleep and not just gives you that tiny boost and then stops working after a few months.

Leigh Ann: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And kind of to that point I made at the beginning, comparing it to so many of the other things on the market. It’s super, super, super [00:08:00] advanced. And there’s a couple of features I’m really excited to get into. Um, but I also love that you make this point about the supplement. Because I think, so I’m more in the holistic health, health world.

So there’s a different rhetoric there. I think a lot, a lot of people who will listen to this episode are kind of a little bit more well versed in like sleep hygiene and light blue light exposure and sunlight exposure. And, but I think in most of the conventional world, people who don’t sleep well, get sent a supplement, um, maybe sometimes even a pharmaceutical.

And then it’s kind of like, and they send you on your way.

Michael Byrne: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, there’s a lot more to it. I’m glad to hear the community is going to be a bit more versed on this. We can get deep down into the nitty gritty and the fun details. Yeah, and I’m not meaning to bash the supplement world at all. It, as I was saying, it did help people, a lot of people. And it made a difference.

It’s just not [00:09:00] completing the picture.

Leigh Ann: Mm hmm. Yeah. It’s just more multifaceted to your point than just that one isolated thing. So, yeah. Okay. So let’s get into it. First of all, actually, I have a curious question, which is from the supplement to sleep mask, what was that jump? Were there some other things you guys played with? I can’t remember what that word is, but yeah, when was the idea of, oh, a sleep mask?

Okay. Let’s dig into this. Yeah,

Michael Byrne: actually looked at like stick on pads for a little bit. I wanted to do neurotech. I wanted to get back into that brain, that root cause of why. So we were, that was where we niched ourselves a little, uh, and limited ourselves. But, uh, We did look at, yeah, stick on pads, we looked at headbands, uh, we looked at something just as simple as like earbuds, and we ended up at the sleep mask.

Leigh Ann: uh huh.

Michael Byrne: I can jump into that maybe in a little bit. Like we’ll introduce the product and the experience overall. And then I can, uh, I’d be happy to talk about why we [00:10:00] ended up at that form factor over

Leigh Ann: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Totally. Um, yeah, well, I’ll also let you lead the way. Cause I kind of have a list here of the different features of the mask. Um, but you, my, I’m really, I’d love to share just what the features are But also why are they there? What is the impact? Why did you, I’m assuming very intentionally choose to have this and this, and you know, what’s some of the difference between them?

Like there’s the neurofeedback and then there’s the neural music and what’s the difference there.

Michael Byrne: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I’m,

Leigh Ann: yeah, you take us to the beginning with that. Cause I I’ll dive right in, but yeah, for, for most of the audience, who’s never heard of BIA, what, what is this? Who are you guys?

Michael Byrne: Yeah. Yeah. So you know what I’ll do is I’ll just kind of describe the experience that you have with the mask and then I’ll, you know, Hit some keywords for you and we can deep dive into those.

Leigh Ann: Okay, great.

Michael Byrne: so yeah, so it’s a smart sleep mask. So what you would do before going to bed, turn it on, it will connect to your phone into the [00:11:00] cloud, it’ll update it.

Then the Bluetooth actually shuts off. So there’s no Bluetooth overnight and you’ll put on the mask. The mask is very intentionally designed. It’s a hundred percent blackout. There’s a lot we put into this, um, you know, like the eye cavity, we have a gap in the eye cavity, it’s built more like ski goggles, uh, than it is other sleep masks, and that’s actually to allow for eyelashes, as well as to distribute pressure, and create a blackout mold, uh, around your eyes only.

And it allows for space elsewhere in the mask, so that way heat can escape, and you don’t get too warm, you don’t get sweaty, you don’t get irritation on the skin, it’s very friendly. Uh, for the skin. It’s very makeup friendly. We worked with a materials engineer for the textile. We chose the phone. We chose.

So there’s a lot of detail that went into that. Um, and the design of the mask itself as well. So that’s another reason why we got that blackout. Um, we actually mold the mask. Every other mask you get, you put it down, it’ll lie flat right away. You know, it’s like a book, [00:12:00] it’ll just open up. Um, ours does not.

It is molded in its shape, and that is to allow for that perfect shape to the head. Um, it’s designed off of over 1, 500 face scans, uh, so that way it keeps that shape size, and, that comfort, uh, without irritating the skin, whereas what the mask is flat and it bends and folds, you’re going to get creases, you’re going to get pressure points, it’s going to be less comfortable.

Leigh Ann: hmm.

Michael Byrne: So you put on the mask, you get that comfort, music will start to play, um, that’s the neural feedback that will start. So essentially what we’re doing there, uh, is we have a suite of sensors in the mask, uh, including one called FNIRS, which is probably the most unique, um, And then we got like a temperature sensor, uh, IMU, so we can get movement and head positioning.

Um, and we got a microphone in there. It says binary audio. Uh, so we know like there was like a 130 decibel sound outside and you woke up. Uh, you know, or a consistent decibel sound that, you know, went up and [00:13:00] down. Okay, maybe you were snoring during that time frame. We don’t have, because we’re not connected to the cloud, we’re not going to store eight hours of audio every single night.

Uh, so it’s just binary. It’s ones and zeros. So we can get a decibel

Leigh Ann: hmm.

Michael Byrne: Uh, on what’s going on and based on that data, what happens is on the device itself, it picks up that information and it gets a brain state. So you put on the mask, you’re wide awake, your mind’s racing about that meeting you had earlier today.

Uh, we’ll play back audio that is going to encourage your brain to relax and get towards falling asleep. So if we see you’re wide awake, we’ll play back audio that mimics a meditative state. And we’ll have encouragement and discouragement to that, and you know, we can deep dive into this in a little bit, but that will encourage you to relax.

And then once we see you’re meditative, we’ll encourage stage one sleep and we’ll do that throughout the night. Um, so that way you fall asleep faster, you’ll stay asleep and in the morning we’ll start to pull you up. And what we have there [00:14:00] is also a sunrise, a smart alarm. So, uh, right there in the mask.

And this is like what I’m actually most excited about is.

Leigh Ann: too.

Michael Byrne: Uh, yeah, and we worked with optical engineers on this. It was very, very precisely tuned the exact wavelengths to mimic sunrise right in the mass to cue those hormone releases in your body, get that cortisol going up and that melatonin going down, uh, to wake you up.

And what I’m, you know, it’s not going to be ready immediately afterwards, but we’re going to have an option to meditate right then in the morning as well. So we neurofeedback guided meditation. So without moving a muscle. You can get some affirmations. You can get neurofeedback guided meditation, and you get that 10 minutes of sunlight without moving an inch in your bed.

Uh, your brain will just wake up and you get that 10 minutes of peace and setting your intentions for the day without moving a

Leigh Ann: Yeah. This is so legit. Okay, one of the features I didn’t know about, because I knew about the sunlight and I couldn’t wait to talk about this, [00:15:00] Um, but is the no Bluetooth and this is huge. And my audience is going to eat this up because we’re, we’re very much like even me wearing these AirPods right now.

I rarely wear Bluetooth AirPods. I don’t have wearables. Like I, I don’t love it. I also get irritated when I have Bluetooth on me. Um, and that was going to be my only, only thing is like, ah, it stinks that you’re, you have Bluetooth all night long, but even with that, I was like, this product seems like it’s worth it, you know, kind of like that 80, roll, like.

80 percent is more holistic. We can’t get it perfect. So the fact that you guys have even reverse engineered that is amazing and huge, huge, huge, huge. Yeah.

Michael Byrne: again to send that night’s data, you know, empty things off the memories and send it up into the cloud and then it’ll pull back and you’ll get Your stats and the app experience from there. Um, [00:16:00] there is an option if you wanted to have Bluetooth overnight.

Um, and or for a little while too, because a lot of people listen to audiobooks or podcasts to fall asleep. so we’ve set it up so, you know, it’d be like AirPods. You can stream your own audio and listen to it. Um, and the one difference we have is an auto pause feature. So if you’re listening to your book, big struggle is you fall asleep and you wake up seven chapters later to a spoiler.

And then you’re trying to come back and find where you were. We’ll just pause it for you when you fall asleep and we can shut off Bluetooth right then as well. Well, while you go to

Leigh Ann: And I guess we didn’t say this directly, although it’s been kind of indirectly communicated, there’s, there’s speakers in the, the mask that are going over your ears so you can hear that. Oh,

Michael Byrne: they are not going over your ears. There are speakers. Um, that is another design feature that I absolutely love. Uh, so we’re using conduction drivers. So what we’re doing is the mask has three layers. There’s an outer layer. There is the housing and the electronics. Um, and then there’s [00:17:00] the inner layer of the mask.

So the conduction drivers vibrate the inner layer of the foam that your skin is touching. So if you’re not touching it, you don’t hear a thing. You could be having a full blast right next to me, I won’t hear a sound. And, um, well, you hear an actual like surround sound experience because it’s rippling around that inner layer of the foam.

Super soothing experience, uh, really, really calming. And, uh, and the other benefit there is there’s no hard parts over the ears. So all the electronics sit right here, um, within that eye cavity there. So you would have, you, you won’t feel a single thing. You’re not sleeping on a hard parts over your ears.

Uh, it’s, it’s all right here.

Leigh Ann: Oh my gosh. I didn’t think you could blow my mind anymore, but you just keep adding these fantastic features. Okay. That’s so huge. That’s like those, I actually have a pair of kind of like the bone conductor headphones

Michael Byrne: Yeah. Yeah. So

Leigh Ann: Yeah.

Michael Byrne: yeah, they, they hit like right here, like here, here, um, we’re hitting like closer to the top of the cheekbone, [00:18:00] uh, where the reverberations will go towards the ear and create that audio.

Leigh Ann: Okay. Amazing. So cool. We’re going to get to the light part, which is huge, but. Another distinction is it’s a smart mask. It’s not just a sleep mask. It’s a smart mask. And this is what I’m really excited to get into a bit more too, because it’s not just, yeah, you put the mask on, it’s blackout, that’s nice.

There’s speakers and you hit play on a preset meditation. It’s to your point, sensors are able to detect the state you’re in and then adjust what it’s outputting to support that. But say more.

Michael Byrne: Yes. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, uh, this is also all contactless technology that we’re using. Um, IMU is just relative positioning, so it doesn’t need any skin contact. Microphone doesn’t require skin contact. And our two other sensors are temperature and uh, it’s called NIRS. So N I R S and that stands for [00:19:00] near infrared N I.

Uh, or I N I R spectroscopy. So light graph, um, nerves. What we’re doing is we’re measuring brain activity. So we’re using infrared light to more or less penetrate through the skin, uh, it reflects off red blood cells and then comes back to receivers and that can tell us brain activity and how active your brain is.

Um, and the temperature sensor is also infrared, so it’s completely contactless. There’s no hard parts touching your face, it’s just very soft foam, you know, engineered foam that we’re very particular with. In that design, so with the, yeah, yeah, it is, it is, you know, when you get down in the weeds and you kind of forget about it, um,

Leigh Ann: Yes!

Michael Byrne: yeah, it’s, it’s really fascinating and yeah, so based off all that information, just in real time, we’re feeding back, okay, here’s where you’re at, you’re, you’re

Leigh Ann: all

Michael Byrne: percent awake, just for a simple argument’s sake, here is [00:20:00] 50 percent awake, okay, you’re at 70%, let’s continuously guide you down the steps there to where you’re at.

Falling asleep and relaxing in it. It adapts based on what’s going on. So if you were in a meditative state and you go to like wide awake, we’ll transition back to that meditative where it’s not too far of a gap for your brain to learn and adapt. And we’ll go back to, okay, let’s just get you to meditative.

Let’s not try and get you to, you know, fall asleep this very second. Let’s just get you back to that meditative state. Uh, yeah, yes. Yeah. It’s, it’s sensing that the whole night through, um, throughout the night, what we tend to do is kind of let the brain do its thing. Uh, our focus is to keep it asleep. Um, and, uh, yeah, staying asleep the whole night through is a target, but we’re not going to try and override. The brain’s natural needs, um, we don’t know what you did all day, uh, your brain does.

And [00:21:00] what you require for that night’s sleep, your body is going to have a natural propensity towards that. Uh, so we’re just going to let it do its thing and we’re going to play back. So, you know, let’s say once you’re falling asleep and you’re in deep sleep, we’ll play deep sleep audio. And if you’re in stage two sleep, we’ll just play stage two.

It’s just to try and keep the brain in the state that it is chosen. But we’re not going to try and get the brain to do something that it’s not naturally doing.

Leigh Ann: impactful for someone who maybe does struggle though with waking up a lot at night?

Michael Byrne: Exactly.

Leigh Ann: wake up, it would sense that and then be able to help, you know, gently coax them into sleep again.

Michael Byrne: Yeah, and hopefully, um, prevent that from happening as well

Leigh Ann: Right.

Michael Byrne: because as they start to go towards that wake up state We’ll be still encouraging it to stay in that sleep state.

Leigh Ann: Mm hmm. Yeah. And let’s talk about this a little bit more, because even though I think there’s a lot of obvious implications, why it’s so much more impactful to have audio feedback that is [00:22:00] attuned to your state versus just some binaural beats going on in the background.

Michael Byrne: Fantastic. Yeah. Um, so the way binaural beats works I love that you use that example. So we’ve had a few people reach out about this specifically so You know if you YouTube binaural beats will Pull a few, like, hey, here’s a 10 hertz binaural beats to sleep to, um, sleep is quite a bit more dynamic than that, as well as your brain state, um, so stage one sleep, it’s not just, you know, exactly 10 hertz, and that’s the entirety of your brain activity, uh, there’s a spectrum of activity that’s going on, um, and that’s where the neural music comes in, so we have neurofeedback and we have neural music, neurofeedback is like the coach, uh, you know, it’s, it’s the part of guiding your brain towards the desired state, so I know, I guess a comparison would be like, if you’re doing a lunge, having someone be able to adjust your form in real time. If you start to tweak your knee out, they’re pushing your knee back in, make [00:23:00] sure you keep your form properly. That’s kind of what the neural feedback is doing of, Hey, this is how you need to go in the right direction.

This is how you do this properly. And then the neural music is. It’s music that mimics a brain state exactly. So it’s that stage one sleep, it’s mimicking what stage one sleep looks like across that whole dynamic, uh, wavelength, not just, you know, Delta, for example, but the whole spectrum of, of hearing that we’re able to collect.

Uh, it’s mimicking that entire state to encourage that activity as well.

Leigh Ann: yeah, yes. So just much, much more nuanced than yeah, the binaural beats are kind of soothing also something in correct me if I’m wrong, something I’ve heard too is because of how dynamic the brain is. Once it’s like heard a particular beat in repetition, it almost like the melatonin, it stops being as effective.

Uh huh.

Michael Byrne: um, [00:24:00] like there’s studies that have been done with like true sensory deprivation, uh, where everything, no light stimulation, no sounds, no sense of touch, like true sensory deprivation. You, you, you’ll hear your own organs working. It’s like that quiet. The average person starts to hallucinate within 30 minutes. that’s because the way the brain works is it needs stimulation to survive. That’s what it does. It’s a microcosm of the world, of survival of the fittest. You know, the neurons that fire stay alive, the ones that don’t die off. So it’s constantly hungry, trying to find a reason to fire. when you provide a stimulation to it, your brain is going to seek that stimulation. It’s going to move towards that, that’s how it’s going to survive. So audio and audio itself is just neural firing, right? You know, if you go through the science of it, there’s a few different bones that move and there’s [00:25:00] neurons that are vibrating based off of the movement that simulate and send that information to your brain that we perceive as audio.

Like right now, this, my voice, the way the tone goes and how it moves those within that liquid within your ear. Is how you hear. We’re just vibrating that directly with our conduction drivers and we’re vibrating it in a pattern that will mimic that stage one sleep. And because your brain is going to be seeking that simulation.

That’s how we’re able to guide it to that direction. And as you’re saying, it’s going to get bored of something over and over and over again. So we have lengthy audio tracks that have that dynamic, dynamic aspect to it, and that will adapt as your brain changes throughout the day.

Leigh Ann: Yeah. Okay. Now let’s talk about this sunlight thing. Cause this is, this has been my biggest peeve so far other than the Bluetooth, which I was not loving of the sleep mask. And I have just the most basic, you know, foam, Sleep masks that I have actually, I haven’t used in so long. [00:26:00] I now kind of have the shades that block out my room completely to get that effect.

But what I don’t, and then I have a sunrise alarm clock. Um, but what I don’t love about the sleep mask is yes, we’re not getting any of that sun stimulation. And so it actually, I almost think, yes, maybe it can help you sleep better, but then the waking up part might be really hard or jarring.

Michael Byrne: exactly. Yeah. Yeah. It is a sudden switch rather than that progressive cross 15, 30 minutes of the sunlight rising through the sunsets or through the sunrise, rather. Yeah, exactly. You said it all. Yeah, and that’s part of why we have it.

Leigh Ann: yeah. So I know you talked about a little bit, but cover it again for us. So there’s, there are lights that are, yeah. Walk us through it again.

Michael Byrne: so we have multiple LEDs, um, and we have a diffusion layer on the inside of the mask so the light reflects onto this diffusion so it more evenly spreads. And what we’ll do is, [00:27:00] you know, starting about 30 minutes before, let’s say you set your alarm for 7am, um, you know, around 6. 30ish, we’ll start to have those lights go in.

That will mimic as if you were lying down outside and the sun was to start rising over the horizon. We’re mimicking that within the mask itself. So, and we’re mimicking that in terms of brightness, in terms of the light spectrum. Um, you know, the, the colors, uh, the various wavelengths that your brain will receive.

So we mimic that throughout those stages. Um, I think the big difference for us there is it’s based on your schedule. Um, so for people that have to do shift work, uh, you know, the, you know, the nurses that work 7 PM to 7 AM and then. Try to go to sleep 9 a. m. It’s complete opposite to what’s happening outside because we’re able to block out that environment.

We’re able to kind of override that system and then sunrise when the sun’s actually setting and it adapts to your schedule.

Leigh Ann: Mm. Well, and just likewise, a lot of people do wake up before the sun’s up [00:28:00] and, being able to give the brain that simulation it needs to start to produce the hormones, the enzymes, all the things that wake us up, help us feel alert, happy, excited for the day to come.

Michael Byrne: Yes, yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You got it.

Leigh Ann: And then you also said, so there’s also more of that neurofeedback and neural music to wake us up.

Michael Byrne: Correct. Yeah. Yeah. The goal there is, you know, same thing. Your alarm set at 7 a. m. Around 6 a. m. We’re going to encourage your brain to get towards, you know, that end one stage of sleep, uh, and then towards meditative upon the actual awakening. So you’re not. Getting that jarring alarm beeping at you. It’s going to be a lot more of a peaceful experience.

Leigh Ann: Yeah. I don’t know what you guys haven’t thought through with it.

Michael Byrne: I’m sure there is. And, you know,

Leigh Ann: really

Michael Byrne: soon as we get it into people’s hands, I’m sure, you know, that’s why we have the beta test because we’re confident there’s things that we’ve missed. But

Leigh Ann: Yeah, yeah, [00:29:00] have you, I’m sure you’ve tried it.

Michael Byrne: yeah, we,

Leigh Ann: try it.

Michael Byrne: we’ve done some varying alpha tests yet. It’s always scary because you’ve only got a handful of prototypes type thing. And of course they break and then you do the next one and you break those too. But yeah, uh, the, the experience is absolutely incredible. I cannot. I’m so excited to get it into people’s hands and just watch the reviews pour in on that sunrise experience and the sound.

We worked with musicians specifically to just nail that like that first sound you hear to be just completely soothing. I’m excited to watch people experience that.

Leigh Ann: I know, I was gonna say, like, how excited are you for this to go, you know, live and mass?

Michael Byrne: it’s been three and a half years that we’ve been working on this so very very excited to the real feedback um and get it out into people’s hands.

Leigh Ann: Yeah, to be so close to that launch stage. And to your point, I mean, being a business owner myself, there will always be the next thing, the next [00:30:00] improvement, the next stage. So we’re not holding our breath for like a finality there, but yeah, to have been in kind of R& D and just such a big building phase for so long,

Michael Byrne: yeah,

Leigh Ann: exciting to be getting to the end of that road at least.

Michael Byrne: And I think it’s a much clearer line in the sand compared to, you know, v2 of this that we’ll build a few years after that. It’s very different than You know, going zero to one type thing, right?

Leigh Ann: Yeah, yeah. I know it’s so far in the future, but yeah. What are some of the already things that you’re dreaming up of taking it? It sounded like you said, like a meditation morning app or something.

Michael Byrne: yeah, yeah, it would be like, wake up and you know, you got your alarm set at 7 a. m. I would, you know, just for argument’s sake, 7 a. m. goes off. I would not, right away, it would go into guided neurofeedback meditation to get me into that meditated state. I’m going to get the encouragement, discouragement, and it will have [00:31:00] affirmations playing at that time as well.

Leigh Ann: Mm

Michael Byrne: I can start the day on a positive note instead of trying to, you know, resist the urge of seeing the, The email list that’s sitting on my phone. I can wake up and set the mood that I want to have to start the day. Uh, another feature I’m really excited about too, is actually partner pairing that we have on, on the roadmap. Yeah. So, so you can see how, you know, like sleep divorce quote unquote, uh, is a very popular term right now with people sleeping separately from their partners because of how it impacts one another. We’re going to be able to quantify that if you both have a mask. We’ll be able to show you how you actually influence each other as well as how to improve sharing a bed Uh and and living with that.

Leigh Ann: Oh my gosh. That’s, that’s huge. That’s super exciting. Have you taken this to any, I know it’s, again, you’re still even in beta, so probably not, but I’m thinking, I’ve been thinking of like Dave Asprey’s [00:32:00] biohacking

Michael Byrne: in talks with them We want to make sure we have a prototype to the extent that we’ll be happy with having it at that stage Um, so we’re gonna miss it this year. Unfortunately, we have the their contact info. It’s it’s very high up on the list to get there

Leigh Ann: Yeah, that’ll be huge. It’s going to blow up because it’s, I’m very nitpicky with details and specifics and like I said I’ve seen so many sleep masks come up that might even kind of on the outside have a similar look or whatever but when you really get into the nitty gritty of all the different specs it’s so far and above everything that’s out there.


Michael Byrne: compliments, but there’s some, like, I give a lot of kudos and respect to everyone else that’s making similar products. The mask is making the mask is incredibly difficult. It seems easy. But some fabric and foam together, it’s, it is much more complicated.[00:33:00]

Leigh Ann: Especially just when you want to make something that is hitting all these different areas. It’s so funny. Cause I daydream about, this is where my mind goes. I daydream one day about like having my own mental health, like holistic mental health clinic, but like to the nitty gritty point of the whole building is grounded in the earth and there’s sunlight that can come in and all the lights are full spectrum light bulbs.

Like this is how specific my brain gets. But even as I’m doing that, I’m like, Holy. Shit. The expense of that, that is insane to fund and create something like that, where every single detail from the water, the air quality, all everything. So with that said, I get it. It could be so much easier and cheaper to make something that sort of checks the big boxes, but to check these really, really specific nuanced boxes takes a ton of time and attention.

Michael Byrne: Yeah. And you know, [00:34:00] I think what you’re envisioning there too, that those little details to me are how you make the difference. It’s how you make something that grows and builds with people. Uh, and you know, all the features that we have, there’s a ton more. We can, we have planned as well, um, down the road, I think we got a list of about 55 different features that are.

In the parking lot to build. Uh, those are the things that also keep the excitement going and it gives you that room to grow. Um, and to treat a product like it’s, or in your case, a clinic as a never finished project, changes your perspective on how to approach it and getting the product out becomes just a milestone rather than the end goal.

And you’re just looking to improve, improve, improve, and Yeah, that’s been our philosophy this whole way through is a product is never finished. Um, and we’re wanting to keep building and building and building.

Leigh Ann: Yeah. And then also how to know when [00:35:00] to launch, because at some point we do have to launch, even when it’s not finished, you know, and to your point, like there’s a baseline we absolutely have to meet just for our own, you know, peace and integrity, but then how can we keep making this the next best thing,

Michael Byrne: Yeah. But there’s something I think we’re a little bit fortunate on is, you know, compared to like Apple watches and most wrist wearables. We have about eight times the space in, of electronics. So we have way more room, you know, like being able to go without Bluetooth is because we have that whole space in front of your eyes.

Um, whereas if all we had was that space on your wrist, you don’t have enough space to store the information. You need, you need to connect throughout the night to send the data you’re collecting. don’t have to deal with that problem.

Leigh Ann: Mm hmm. I just was thinking about, um, is it going to be something that could be used even during the day? Like I’m even thinking, I just was like, Oh, how [00:36:00] cool would it be to do like a super optimized midday meditation to boost my energy between work or something? Yeah.

Michael Byrne: like a focus mode set up where I want to have it for like, before jumping on a podcast, be able to spend five, 10 minutes. And we actually do as, as part of the wake up sequence, have it go to, uh, like a focus mode, like go from guide you towards stage one, towards meditative and then like a focused mindset for when you’re waking up.

So that way, again, you’re waking up with energy rather than Uh, dragging yourself out a bit. So we already have the technical know how and set up, uh, that it would just be creating a full new mode. Takes time to do that and we will focus on sleep, but yeah, that’s 100 percent in the, in the, that’s 100 percent in the plans.

We have a nap mode that will be released fairly quickly. Um, so yeah, there’ll be a few different ways. It won’t need to be [00:37:00] exclusively an overnight mask.

Leigh Ann: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I, so I don’t know how much, you know, about what I do. I have the podcast, but I also have a whole wellness, you know, emotional wellness practice. And first of all, I love how much we’re talking about vibrations and, and sound because what we do, what I do in my practices, EVOX therapy, where we’re measuring the tones in their voice.

Um, and then I’m pairing that with somatic, subconscious work, all this stuff, but yeah, I’m already like, Ooh, how cool would it be if there were all these special programs for grief, anger, shame, and then it’s like, I, you know, not only is it supporting their sleep, but I can tell my clients, yeah, do, you know, let’s, for the next week, do the grief program,

Michael Byrne: Yeah.

Leigh Ann: day or something.

Michael Byrne: Yeah. That’d be incredible.

Leigh Ann: And like, I don’t know if they’ve mapped out, I don’t know if they’ve mapped out the brain states when I’m in grief. So the [00:38:00] neurofeedback is directly there, but then maybe also meditate. I don’t know. Anyways, that

Michael Byrne: be really cool.

Leigh Ann: And then it becomes like a practitioner tool to not just, uh,

Michael Byrne: Yeah.

Leigh Ann: yeah.

Michael Byrne: Yeah. Yeah. That’d be very cool. Yeah. We can talk more about that later.

Leigh Ann: Yeah, if that ever gets on the table, reach back out cause I will be very interested, uh, and, and sharing what I, what I need as a practitioner from that. Yeah,

Michael Byrne: it’ll go in the parking lot for sure. I’ll follow up. We’ll, we’ll find a spot.

Leigh Ann: love it. Um, well, yeah. And just since we have a little bit of time left, um, Tell me a little bit about, you know, so much of, first of all, my, the Accrescent, the name of the podcast, the name of my brand company, Accrescent means ever growing, continual growth.

And so, and also I’m so much about the emotional stuff, the vulnerability, the blocks that we’re overcoming. So three years, we’ve been, you’ve been [00:39:00] on this journey. Yeah. Has it been a walk in the park or what have been some of those moments? Did you, even the thought of like taking this on year one, year zero, were there, you know, blocks, subconscious or conscious that you had to overcome even to start this journey?

Sorry, this wasn’t on your Q and

Michael Byrne: No, no, this is great. This is great. Uh, yeah,

Leigh Ann: Yeah.

Michael Byrne: Um, I, I think for others that are going to, you know, if they were listening and looking at starting their own. I think something that is unique to hardware is that it is incredibly expensive and very time consuming. Um, working on a service or software, you can adapt when you get that feedback in that moment.

Um, for the mask, for example, you know, the first sample we [00:40:00] got, it was not comfortable at all. Um, the foam was way too dense. Well, it was another three and a half months before we got our next sample. So that was tough. There’s, there’s like very clear lines where now it’s, we, we actually joke about it on the team, there’s down weeks and there’s up weeks and you kind of just laugh it off because you’re just on this rollercoaster and you, when you start it, you’re definitely got your hands up and you’re screaming and you’re crying as you go up and down and.

Now you’re like, try not to take a nap as you go up and down because it’s just become second nature. Um, but yeah, you, you kind of get used to the ups and downs. I think, you know, another major factor to consider is, you know, if you have a partner getting their full buy in and understanding that it’s not a buy in once it’s a buy in every single day, every single week, you need to communicate.

It’s something I’m still working on, you know, making sure my wife is, you know, Fully aware of what’s [00:41:00] happening that she’s fully bought in because it impacts her

Leigh Ann: Mm

Michael Byrne: a lot. Um, it’s not as a simple, Hey, I’m going to put some money into this and this is my job now. And you continue life as normal. It’s a, it’s, it’s a very hard line in the sand.

That’s an irreversible decision that will change things. So getting that buy in regularly would be another major piece.

Leigh Ann: Yeah. When you started, so much of what I look at is the beliefs, the limiting beliefs. Was there any blocks or beliefs around like, Oh no, I, I couldn’t create this life changing product or that’s too big, or that’s too something out there that you had to overcome, or, and maybe it’s because you were having jobs in this realm, it actually did feel very achievable.

Mm hmm.

Michael Byrne: So, uh, I have in the background of health. I had no idea how to do the engineering, uh, and we did bring on, you know, people to help with that, which, which, there [00:42:00] was no way we could have got it done without them. Um, I knew it was conceptually possible, you know, whether it was me to do it, I wasn’t sure, but I was focused on getting it done and finding a way for me to fit into that.

And throughout the journey, that was to completely change my role, I’d do it. Um, and, you know, you know, if we needed to bring in a different CEO to get it moving. Whatever, but this is my focus. Uh, I’m a very mission driven person. Um, you know, the, the life model I follow is my life is not mine to live. And what I mean by that is I get.

The most energy, the most drive, where I find passion in life is when I’m helping other people. So for me, this was where I found the most effective way to do that. And if, you know, whatever my role ends up being in this journey is what it will be, and I’m just going to push as hard as I can work as hard as I can to get it there and wherever I end up is wherever I’m going to end up.

But for me, the number [00:43:00] one important factor was getting this thing built. So, yeah, I guess like I didn’t really have any, uh, uh, debilitating levels of self doubt. There were certainly moments of like, there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this. I need to find someone to take over. Those, those came and went, um, on a handful of different occasions.

But what I ended up doing throughout those was just focusing on getting the mission done. This is what I’m trying to do. This is what needs to get done.

Leigh Ann: So now I’m going to ask a selfless question. This is where I might lose my audience, so I might cut it out. But yes, that piece of, I have a huge vision. I know I can’t cover every piece of this, trusting that those people exist out there, that I can find them, Was that hard? How do you overcome that? How do you find those people?

There’s a lot of questions there.

Michael Byrne: Yeah.

Leigh Ann: you have to answer them all. But that for me is right now feels like [00:44:00] a very big block of there’s a lot of things I’d love to do. I know I can’t do it all. Um, And just even trusting that those people exist, which consciously I know, obviously, duh, there’s so many companies doing so many things.

Of course, there’s people out there subconsciously. I don’t believe that. So I know that’s work I need to do on my part. But even that idea of like, how, how do you find the right people? I think is a big question for me.

Michael Byrne: So something I think that, uh, is unique for us and it would be for you as well, is, lot of the people in this field, when you read, you know, if you read someone’s book that has written, uh, that they’ve written, um, and you’re like wowed by how incredible and knowledgeable this person is. The vast majority of people in the mental health field, in, you know, in our case around the sleep space, they just want to help people.

Like, they’re motivated to help. And if you tell them you’re trying to do the same [00:45:00] thing. A lot of them answer. It’s not, it’s not the same thing as, you know, like a sales pitch where you’re expecting to get rejected 99 out of a hundred times. This is very much a, Hey, I’m trying to help people too when I have a chat and I’ve had an incredible response rate of, Reaching out to the people that you look up to and just asking them if you can learn or take five minutes of their time.

Um, a lot of the time, I’ve got a lot more positive responses than I expected. Um, obviously some people don’t, uh, it’s kind of removing it from being, uh, you know, an ask of, can you do a favor for me? It’s, can we work on this together? Uh, and how can we build this entire industry? Together, uh, it changes the outlook a little bit and changes the approach.

So yeah, LinkedIn outreach has been great. Joining communities in your local area also really helps. [00:46:00] And not being afraid to ask. That’s probably the number one piece. Um, just being comfortable with asking and making sure your ask is, you know, reasonable and that you reciprocate.

Leigh Ann: Right.

Michael Byrne: any chance you can give back.

Um, uh, and if you can give back to start with, uh, you know, that also definitely helps. Um, yeah, the whole seek and you shall find approach.

Leigh Ann: Yeah,

Michael Byrne: truly believe in.

Leigh Ann: yeah, yeah. I’m a part of a really, really special networking community and the motto is give, give, get. So it’s actually like we give, we give some more and then we might make an ask. Um, so I love that. This has been awesome. Thank you so much.

Michael Byrne: Yeah. Thank you.

Leigh Ann: I’m ecstatic for you guys. I feel like I’m, I’m like a fan cheering you on.

I hope, I hope the beta goes really well. Um, I hope the launch goes really well. I’ll be one of the first people trying to get that [00:47:00] product, um, testing it and sharing it. But yeah, also just any way I can help. I’m super, super happy to help. Um,

Michael Byrne: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. This was, this was fantastic. It was a great host. You’re great at hosting and super smooth and dynamic. I really appreciated it. And yeah, honestly, let’s, let’s talk further about, you know, Uh, some of the ideas you were brainstorming there, I think that’d be really cool to create it a bit more personalized to emotional states.

Leigh Ann: yeah, yeah. I’m potentially starting a PhD program in depth psychology in September and it’s all the study of the unconscious. And so getting much, much more into this and yeah, I, I just have a practice now. I work with people one on one. I do the podcast, but yeah, the dream is many, many things, but to, on some level, build out a huge, like holistic, integrative, mental, emotional healing center that’s unlike anything that’s out there.

[00:48:00] Um, so. So anyways, yes, I’m sure there’s a lot of crossover, very, very excited for you guys and, and where it’s going to lead and, and excited for myself that there’s a product coming that I’m very, very excited about. So, yeah,

Michael Byrne: Thanks again. Again, a bit of an aside, but, uh, have you read the book? Uh, is it okay if I just go grab it quick?

Leigh Ann: sure, sure, sure. Yeah.

Michael Byrne: Um,

Leigh Ann: Oh no, I haven’t. The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of bicameral, Jesus, that’s a title.

Michael Byrne: right. It’s, it’s quite old. Um, it’s from like the seventies or eighties, but it is absolutely fascinating. The neuroscience is way off. Yeah, 1976. So, almost. 50 years old now. Um, but, uh, it’s, yeah, it’s absolutely fascinating. It changed the way I viewed consciousness in general.

Leigh Ann: Uh [00:49:00] huh.

Michael Byrne: again, neuroscience is way off, but I love the thoughts and ideas behind it.

And it’s actually, uh, you know, the, the movie or the shows Westworld, the development of consciousness in that show is based off of this book and this theory. So, so you might, you might like it. It’s

Leigh Ann: Yeah. Oh, thank you. I love that. I’ve always got a stack of books I’m working through. So Well, thank you so much. I won’t take any more of your time, but yeah, keep in contact.

Leigh Ann: have a great rest of your week and we’ll be in touch.

Michael Byrne: All right.