AYO is a team of innovators, visionaries, designers, engineers, programmers and entrepreneurs based throughout Europe who aspire to create meaningful innovative solutions that will be used by millions of people every day. They are passionate about health and wellbeing and perceive limitless possibilities for improving and enhancing human life and wellbeing by combining technology, science and creative thinking.
We speak to Aleksandar Dimitrov about why he started AYO and what makes his glasses so special
Tell us a little about yourself, and what inspired you to create AYO glasses?
The story of AYO began a few years ago in the Netherlands, where two of the three co-founders of AYO Aleksandar Dimitrov and Branislav Nikolic met during our MSc Entrepreneurship studies at the Rotterdam School of Management. Both of us were eager to create something on our own and have a successful project and company, which is impactful and helpful to people worldwide. As we both come from sunnier countries, we were having troubles waking up in the morning and being fully active during the day, due to the short and usually gloomy winter days in the Netherlands.
We knew about the effect of light on our overall energy levels and how helpful it can be in these situations. However, the products on the market were too inconvenient to use, as well as not smart nor personal.
We wanted to create something better, more personal and intelligent. That’s how we came up with AYO. Shortly after, we were joined by our third co-founder Nikola Vucinic who shared our vision to make something that can help people lead healthier, happier, and more active lives.
AYO presents a blue-light emitting wearable, which is fully controlled and operated through a smartphone app. Following the right timing, the blue light has been shown to be the most effective light for shifting a person’s body clock and suppressing the sleep hormone melatonin, making us more active and energetic during the day as well as helping us sleep better at night (assisting our body produce more melatonin naturally during the night).
The science behind AYO follows the latest developments and studies in the field of Chronobiology (the science about our body clocks) in the past 20+ years from leading institutions, among which Harvard, Oxford and NASA. Last year, the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology was awarded to 3 American researchers to recognise their discoveries of mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm, mimicked also by the AYO system.
Who are your target customers, and why?
• Snooze-lovers can finally find and set their natural sleep rhythm for brilliant, energizing “sleep time” and healthier, more productive “wake time”.
• Sleep deprived people can get a good night’s sleep they have always wished for.
• Frequent travelers can beat jet lag quickly, feeling fully refreshed no matter the time zone they happen to be in.
• Stressed workers can experience improved energy through the innovative use of safe and natural blue light technology that mimics the sunlight.
• Those living in the north during winter can enjoy more energy and mood through AYO’s mobile light therapy product, which can be used anytime, anywhere.
What are the long term and short-term benefits of using AYO glasses?
Immediately or shortly after an AYO session, our energy levels and alertness levels can be increased. This effect is due to the fact that AYO, similar to the natural sunlight, suppresses the production of melatonin (our sleep hormone) in a natural way, and thus “wakes us up” and makes us more alert/energetic
Due to the suppression of melatonin at specific time of the day/night cycle, we can actively adjust our sleep/wake rhythm so that we adapt it to your lifestyle. Here examples include when traveling and we need to adapt your body clock faster to a new time zone or when we would like to start waking up earlier or easier in the beginning of the work week as well as have our biological rhythm adjust our shift work schedule.
By suppressing melatonin during the day, AYO also helps improve sleep at night since our bodies start to produce more melatonin in the evening. Using AYO for weeks or more helps us build the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times, which has numerous benefits on our energy levels, sleep and overall wellbeing!
Do you think sleep is now a luxury commodity? How do you think your product is designed to accommodate our rapidly changing sleeping habits?
In my opinion, sleep is crucial, and we need to get the required hours of sleep every day. There is no substitute to sleep. Therefore, I think we need to 1) allow ourselves the necessary hours of sleep and 2) be conscious on how we can improve our sleep quality and sleep hygiene. As for the latter, making sure we expose ourselves to the necessary amount of light during the day and avoid noise and light pollution during the night plays a detrimental role in the quality of our sleep. Nowadays our lifestyle and way of living is very different from our ancestors – we spend too much time indoors (e.g. working from an office) without direct access to light, especially during the short and gloomy winter days. As a result, our sleep and energy levels suffer. That is why we created AYO to help us be more alert and energetic during the day and sleep better at night. We fully understand that people would rather get a solution to adapt to their lifestyle rather than change their way of living. And that is why we created AYO fit into our lifestyle seamlessly (you can wear it anytime, anywhere – it is a mobile light therapy device, very easy to use and does not distract you from doing your daily activities). Our happy users keep telling us that everyone should have an AYO and that is what we are day and night working on – to bring it to as many people as we can!
As a company, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? Can we expect new products?
Absolutely! We will be releasing many new products and solutions and we have prepared quite a lot of surprises for 2020 Our vision has always been to help millions of people live healthier, happier and more active lives!
Finally, a few pearls of wisdom from you! Run us through your recipe for a great night’s sleep, and some do’s and don’ts that you recommend following, or including in a pre-sleep schedule.
I would be glad to do so! I already mentioned that sleep hygiene (no noise and light pollution during the night) as well as light exposure during the day are both very important. In addition to that, having an evening ritual to get yourself ready to sleep can be quite helpful as well. That may include reading a book, meditation or something in those lines.
I have numerous daily positive habits, which help me, on one side, keep my energy levels high during the day and, on the other side, have a good night’s sleep. These include morning stretching and exercise, cold shower, using the AYO glasses in the morning and/or during the day, reading a book or meditation before going to sleep, and many others. And I usually aim to have a very balanced circadian rhythm when I am not traveling to other countries for work (i.e. going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends). And, thankfully, during intense business trips, I have the secret weapon to keep my body clock in balance