Once loved by Steve Jobs, is Pzizz the new comeback kid?

By Kitty Knowles 23 February 2016
Loved by Steve Jobs, is Pzziz sleep app the comeback kid? Pic: iStock/EdStock

Pzizz products fell out of favour with the rise of the smartphone, but now the company's back with a new improved app for "the best sleep of your life."

Founded in late Nineties, clever Pzizz products used to be found in to the homes of everyone from Steve Jobs to Olympic sports stars & TV celebrities.

Pioneers of the sleep space, it seemed at first that people couldn’t get enough of the soothing sounds of their Mp3 player-sized bedside buddies. However, as people have ditched their hardware and desktop apps for smartphones, the company failed to keep up.

There was an incarnation of Pzizz released on iOS in 2009, but this awkwardly split up the programme’s different functions and lacked mobile-forward features. In 2014 the company created an improved complete app for android and iOS, but this panned financially as a failed freemium experiment.

Now however, under the guidance of new CEO Rockwell Shah, Pzizz appear to be set for a comeback, offering streamlined versions of all its original features and more.

Yes, you’ll have to pay a small fee (£2.99 a month or £19.99 a year), but you could well get “the best sleep of your life”, says Shah.

What made Pzizz so special in the first place?

“Pzizz was started by a group of people that were extremely passionate about the sleep space and wanted to solve a really big problem in insomnia and power napping,” says Shah.

“They were the first on the market in the digital space for sleep, they had this incredible product, but timing worked against them,” he told The Memo. “They were trying to create a very sophisticated solution to sleep at a time when the infrastructure just didn’t exist: there were no apps, so they created this little small black almost mp3 player-looking device.

“Steve Jobs bought one, Tony Robins bought one, they were famous in that CEO and famous athlete demographic, but they never really hit the big mainstream.”

Unique features

Apart from being somewhat ahead of its time, what really made Pzizz special are its unique features. The programme has always offered two distinct services, a full sleep and a power nap option. These feature the voice of Michael Breen, a ‘master NLP’ (Neuro linguistic Programming) trainer, as well as music composed by Grammy-nominated producer Staveley O’Duffy, and calming so-called ‘binaural beats’.

“Other sleep solutions, they don’t put you to sleep for the most part, or if they do, eventually your brain just gets accustomed to the same audio and they stop working,” says Shah.

“Part of the core principal of Pzizz is that every time you listen to its going to be slightly different; that technology, that algorithm is patented, it doesn’t exist in any other product.”

And how to do the other features better sleep?

“NLP practitioners include UK acclaimed magician Darren Brown,” Shah explains. “If used poorly it doesn’t do anything, but Michael Brain, the voice, he’s very soothing, deep, comforting.”

“With O’Duffy, you have to remember these are the original sounds, these sounds have survived the test of time, they still work. These are the original sounds from 16 years ago.”

Binaural beats are a combination of two tones that create a very sleepy relaxing sound, adds Shah.

“There’s a lot of magic in the audio that you’re listening to.”

How will the new app differ?

The new app, due for release in May or June, will include more sounds, more voices (including a female voice). It will also monitor your personal preferences and it will be able to learn what you like, says Shah.

“I’ve come on board on three promises,” says Shah. “I’m going to get you to sleep quickly, I’m going to keep you asleep, and I’m going to wake you up feeling refreshed. Some other apps today do some of these things but to my knowledge, we will be the first to do all three with a new level of sophistication.”

“Part of what we’re building now is the next generation of sound of both music, voice, and binaural tones; the whole package,” he explains. “One of the big changes will be to include a female voice because that’s what a lot of users have asked for. A lot of people, especially men, have found it a little bit difficult to fall asleep to a man.”

“We will also feature a sleep cycle alarm to help you wake up refreshed.”

Personalised Pzizz

But its not just about ensuring you get to sleep and waking you up rested, says Shah, it’s about collecting better data, and personalising your experience.

“Part of the problem with today’s current sleep trackers is they try to quantify your sleep and tell you how well you slept, but if I wake up and I’m tired and I open an app and it says ‘You slept great’, that isn’t necessarily true.”

“We’re introducing is a more human element where after you have a sleep experience you rate it, so you can understand your real sleep patterns over time and improve them.”

“We can also start to understand who you are better,” says Shah. “Using Facebook we can look at your area, your age, your demographics, to find what types of sound sequences are most likely to work for you.”

“Right now we have a product thats one size fit all and it generally works pretty well, but if you want to solve peoples’ sleep problems you need to learn what they like. You’re going to be able to open the app and have a personalised Pzizz.

“A Pzizz thats works for a 65-year-old in Mississippi, may be very different to one that works for a 22-year-old in London.”

The best sleep of your life

Like a true comeback kid, Shah is confident that Pzizz will deliver on his promises.

“I’ve already had the best power naps of my life with Pzizz,” he says. “A 20 minute power nap during the day has massively shifted my productivity.”

At present the app also states it will get you to sleep in as little as 10 minutes. “If we optimise our mechanisms, I think we can get that number to go down more,” adds Shah.

“I don’t think people realise they could sleep better, it’s not something people talk about, but there are so many ways to improve you sleep and effect every other part of your life in a positive way.”

“You should be excited because your going to get the best sleep of your life, you’re going to get incredible sleep.”

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