Space invaders

Sharing a bed with one’s partner is generally held to be a desirable state of affairs, but as anyone who has done so for many years can testify, it is not without its pitfalls.

Putting aside issues such as snoring and duvet-hogging, there is another hazard facing those sharing beds: encroachment.

It’s a common enough sensation: waking up at some point in the night to discover that one is nearer the edge of the bed than is either comfortable or safe and that one’s partner – rather than remain on their side of the bed, has effectively annexed yours.

This leaves the encroachee with two choices: make the best of it and teeter precariously on the edge of the mattress, being constantly aware of the looming void into which any sudden movement could plunge one; or wake one’s partner (either verbally or with a less-than-subtle shove) and attempt to restore equilibrium. Either solution is likely to occasion domestic disharmony.

The challenge

What is required, then, is some sort of mechanism to prevent this unhappy state of affairs. Perhaps some sort of barrier that emerges in the middle of the bed – or an alarm that is triggered the moment one bedmate crosses the invisible line in the middle of the bed?

Whatever you come up with must be effective, ideally won’t interfere with a good night’s sleep and above all, safe.

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the July issue of Eureka! Until then see what you can come up with. Submit your ideas by leaving a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor:

The Solution

The solution to last month’s Coffee Time Challenge of how to prevent sleepers in a double bed from disturbing one another by taking up too much space comes from – of all people – Ford.

The Lane-Keeping bed can identify when a ‘selfish sleeper’ has rolled onto their partner's side of the mattress and act to put them back in their place.

The smart bed borrows a technology from Ford's cars called Lane-Keeping Aid. This feature monitors road markings ahead of the vehicle and ‘nudges’ the steering wheel in the opposite direction if it senses the driver is veering too close to another lane.

The prototype bed is part of Ford's Interventions series, which applies the company's automotive experience to help solve everyday problems. It's also a promotional exercise to bring consumers' attention to car features they may have overlooked.

"Lane-Keeping Aid in our cars can make driving easier and more comfortable," said Ford of Europe marketing communications director Anthony Ireson. "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."