“Stay in your lane” — it’s a phrase you’ve no doubt muttered at an errant driver on crowded downtown streets, or perhaps even heard yelled at you as you swerved, just a little, while rounding a bend in the road and finding your eye drawn to some sunlit coastal vista that lay beyond.
It’s also a phrase playfully or accusingly tossed between bedfellows. For those who luxuriate in space, the cool side of the pillow, and plenty of leg room, a restless or cuddly partner can make for a sleepless night.
It seems only appropriate, then, that one of the most innovative mattresses on the market today has been dreamt up by none other than Ford. Yes, that Ford — father of the assembly line, the company responsible for such vehicles as the iconic Model T and the Ford Mustang Bullitt.
According to Ford’s blog, studies show that 1 in 4 of those in relationships sleep better alone. The impact of sleeping with a partner can have long-term effects that range from the irritating to the downright dangerous; fatigue can be a factor in road accidents, a major concern for the automotive company. Ford points to the trend of sleeping in separate beds — so-called “sleep divorces” — as a viable option. But for those without the space or desire for such an arrangement, the question of how to achieve a decent night’s sleep remains.
Ford has attempted to tackle this problem with technology it actually applies in its vehicles. Its Lane-Keeping Aid monitors road markings and nudges the steering wheel in the correct direction to ensure that a vehicle stays in the correct lane. This works in tandem with other camera-based systems, all of which function to keep a driver between the lines.
Applying this same technology to the bedroom, Ford is toting its new concept product (it’s still in the prototype stages — sorry, insomniacs!) as an “intervention” rather than invention. It works in much the same way as the in-vehicle technology, using pressure sensors to identify an errant sleeper. When someone strays from their lane — er, side of the bed — an integrated conveyer belt is activated and gently shifts the sleeper back to the other side.
“Lane-Keeping Aid in our cars can make driving easier and more comfortable,” says Anthony Ireson, Director of Marketing Communications for Ford of Europe, on the company’s blog. “We thought that showing how similar thinking could be applied to a bed would be a great way to highlight to drivers a technology that they might not previously have been aware of.”
One downside, as far as we can tell, is that this conveyor belt functions to manipulate the mattress as a whole. (Remember those iconic Simmons Beautyrest “Do Not Disturb” Mattress commercials from the ’90s, anyone? Remember that bowling ball dropping onto the mattress without toppling a set of pins, thanks to a pocketed beauty coil construction? This isn’t quite that.) When a sleeper ventures a little too close to their bedfellow, the entire mattress rotates. This means disturbing the sleeper whose space is being invaded — but then again, it also instantly affords them more room, giving that person immediate space on their own side in which to roll away in peace.
Aesthetically, the design of the bed is one of the things we’re most excited about; this certainly isn’t a case of an appearance being compromised or overlooked for integrated technology. Modular, minimal, and sleek, the original prototype promises a white, boxed frame with an asymmetrical dark wood strip running from the foot of the bed to where it forms a slanted headboard. Just as the mattress itself flows as needed, this detail creates a visual interest that echoes the very purpose of the bed, creating a literal laneway from top to tail.
Curious to see more of Ford’s latest off-road application for its on-road technology? Be sure to check out the company blog, where information can be found on an in-the-works, chic A-frame noise-cancelling kennel.
Images via Ford.