When UChicago CS PhD student Tyler Skluzacek saw his father struggling with debilitating nightmares caused by PTSD, he hacked a solution. At a 2015 hackathon, his team built a smart watch app called MyBivy that would detect when its wearer experienced increased heart rate and body movements associated with a nightmare, and respond by sending light vibrations to their wrist, interrupting the dream and preserving peaceful sleep.
Three years later, a startup called NightWare based on Skluzacek's idea received FDA approval as a “digital therapeutic” device for treating PTSD-related nightmare disorder. This week, Wired magazine profiled Skluzacek, who works with Globus Labs and is advised by research assistant professor Kyle Chard and Professor Ian Foster, and NightWare's journey to clinical use.
“Honestly, it feels good,” [Skluzacek] says of knowing that his nightmare-disrupting idea will soon be available to veterans with PTSD. “Sometimes you go off with a one-in-a-million shot of an idea. You might not think it will pan out.” But in this case, he far exceeded his goal of helping his dad get a good night’s sleep.