Podcast #57 Ed Likovich of Sunsprite & Aaron Zack of Sunlighten


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Show Notes

Ari talks some of the interesting things he found online this week and discusses his top productivity hacks he's been working on lately. This episode also has two great interviews with fascinating entrepreneurs Ed Likovich of Sunsprite and Aaron Zack of Sunlighten. Ed is CEO of SunSprite, the first solar-powered personal sun exposure tracker. This device allows a person to track the amount of sun they get everyday, helping to fight off season affective disorder, and regulate circadian rhythms. Aaron Zack is CEO of sunlighten, where he provides relief from chronic pain, enhances recovery, eliminates heavy metal contamination, and aids in weight loss with the use of infrared saunas.

Chapters: 00:00:00 Visit lessdoing.com http://lessdoing.com/00:01:00 You are not so smart podcast http://bit.ly/QYQgGj00:03:50 Wool Runners http://kck.st/1qeYnKQ00:05:00 Vibram FiveFingers http://bit.ly/1qeYqGI00:06:00 How to Analyze Running Form http://athletecell.com/00:07:00 Feldenkrais Method http://bit.ly/QYQf5s00:08:00 Happiness Studies http://bit.ly/1qeYEOb00:09:00 Oliver Burkeman on Happiness http://bit.ly/1qeYJ4900:09:50 Paul Zak TED Talk http://bit.ly/1qeYW7w00:11:00 Square Cash http://bit.ly/1qeZ4E600:13:00 Home automation http://amzn.to/1qeZEln00:17:00 #1 Productivity Hack to Start With http://followup.cc/00:18:20 Listener Questions 00:23:10 Ed Likovich from Sunsprite http://bit.ly/QYPk5000:29:50 Aaron Zack from Sunlighten http://bit.ly/QYP9GE

Ari Meisel:                             Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Less Doing podcast. Now, I’m going to be speaking with Ed Likovich who is the CEO of a company called SunSprite which has an Indiegogo campaign right now and he is concerned with how sunlight affects our body. So Ed, thank your for taking a time to talk to me.

Edward:                                   Thank you for having me.

Ari Meisel:                             So first of all, tell me about more a bit about SunSprite is. What is this device?

Edward:                                   Yes, so SunSprite is wearable bright light and UV tracker. It’s completely solar powered, connects to the low energy boot to an iOS device that provides an app for coaching and lifestyle changes. We’re concerned about making sure that people get enough sunlight and SunSprite is there to track it all for you.

Ari Meisel:                             So where do you wear this? You wear that on your shirt? You wear that on, I mean how do you use it?

Edward:                                   Yeah. It’s got a flexible magnetic attachment, so you can wear it basically any way that you want. We’re concerned about the effect of light coming in through your eyes which helps set your circadian rhythms. So you ideally want to wear it in a place that roughly approximates what your eyes see.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay and what is the optimal level that it’s measuring? I mean how is it, what have you based that on?

Edward:                                   Yes. So there’s decades of medical research about 30 years of research that have kind of identified a gold standard, a bright light which is 30 minutes a day of 10, 000 watts of intensity.

So it’s both duration and its intensity and there’s a time of the day factor to because you want to get your bright light early in the day so that it signals your brain to wake up and on the other side of that when it comes time to go to sleep, you want to avoid light so that your brain knows it‘s time to go to sleep.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay and then the Indiegogo campaign is going on right now. This, when this podcast comes out the Indiegogo campaign will still be going but this is, you’ve developed it, you’ve tested it right? When do you expect it to be able to actually deliver it?

Edward:                                   Yes. So we plan to ship in late June, early July right now. We’ve just started up production and we’re really excited about it. We’ve got a great reception and we’re really looking forward to improving people’s health.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay, great. So that’s about the device which is great and I definitely recommend people to check this out. We’re going to talk a little more about it but I want to get into the sunlight stuff now.

So first of all, so I like that you said the goal standard is 30 minutes, 10, 000 watts but what happens when somebody is you know in Alaska or something in the winter like what is that person supposed to do or someone who works in an office all day like how can they benefit from this kind of information?

Edward:                                   Great questions. For people who work indoors, there’s often very little lifestyle changes that you could do to get light. So one of the most popular ones our betatesters has been eating your breakfast or doing your morning e-mail or drinking your coffee facing a sunny window. So you don’t even need to be outside, it’s just bright light coming in through the eyes.

Now, for people who are in areas where you get virtually zero light or that’s not even an option. There are number of companies who sell bright light boxes which are about they sound like a giant light box that you can set onto your desk and sit in front of it for 30 minutes a day.

Ari Meisel:                             And is there, so now this is going to measure just the amount of light you’re getting right, but how are you, I mean is there anyway to sort of see the change with this device or you’re just going to be able to see like a pedometer that you’re getting enough?

Edward:                                   So our initial release is focused on just measuring the light and then showing you how your light surface score based on this 30 years of medical research. We hope to build out a ton of other features and work study to have so many early doctors to help us drive that process forward.

Ari Meisel:                             So what are some of the other uses you may be kind of see or so many other information you might see using it for later on.

Edward:                                   Sure. So right now we’re tracking bright light through the eyes. We also measure UV light which is of interest to a lot of people for vitamin D, for sunburn, for skin cancer and those sorts of things. So there’s a lot that we can do with bright light for energy, bright light for sleep, UV for vitamin D, UV for skin, and this is all going to be driven by our early doctors in what they are interested in.

Ari Meisel:                             And then with the device, the iOS app itself. So there’s a really great imagery on the campaign which will include on my show notes, but basically is there something you think people should be checking throughout the day or you know it’s like oh, it’s 6 o’ clock or 5 o’ clock and you haven’t gotten enough light like go do something or how is that going to sort of a natural lifestyle change?

Edward:                                   One of the interesting things we’ve found is just how largely unaware people are about their lighting exposure and even those who are kind of focused on it. So the eye is very good at adapting to different brightness levels. You think of leaving a movie theatre. It’s dark and everything seems bright all of a sudden and a minute later, it seems normal.

So we do like and we found in our betatesters that they are checking out quite a bit because we report the crane intensity of light. So people are often interested in how much light am I really getting in my bedroom and how much light do I get up on facing this window and oh, I’m outside on a sunny day. Wow, that’s a lot of light. I didn’t realize it was that bright. So there’s a lot of learning and education that can go on as well as tracking your progress.

Ari Meisel:                             Great, okay and then sort of what guide are you interested in this range or out of this area of science I guess?

Edward:                                   Yes. So I say it’s a combination of two things. First is the team. I’d known our CTO and co-founder Kasey Russell from our days at grad school and the team is really a great collection of people and they captured my interest from the start.

The second is that I’ve had an interest in health and wellness. When I was an undergrad, I worked on a Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Council and we were focused on raising awareness of things like seasonal depression which is a real condition that affects a lot of people and that can be alleviated by something as simple as getting the right amount of bright light at the right time of the day. So I’m really motivated to make people happier, healthier and to improve lives.

Ari Meisel:                             I mean, so I see you sitting in an office, is there something that you sort of used to make your own changes in your life and the benefits you’ve seen from it.

Edward:                                   Yeah, absolutely. We’ve, I think everybody in our families has tried it, we’ve tried it and it makes a big difference. We have a light box to the left of us which you can’t see very well here because our office is not the most windowed place. As a tiny start up, we don’t have the money to afford a nice corner office. So we have it on every morning and we make sure we get our light, we take walks outside and they’re really small lifestyle changes and they do make a difference.

Ari Meisel:                             That’s great. Okay. So the campaign, when does the campaign end on?

Edward:                                   Friday.

Ari Meisel:                             Oh, okay, this Friday. Great, so where should we go to find the best place to get the SunSprite and afford them.

Edward:                                   Yes, if you see this while our Indiegogo campaign is running, you can go to indiegogo.com and just search for SunSprite near the top search box. Otherwise, sunsprite.com and we’ll continue accepting pre-orders on our website after the campaign is done.

Ari Meisel:                             Great. Ed, well thank you for that sort of that quick overview and I appreciate you taking that time.

Edward:                                   Thank you for having me.



Ari Meisel:                             So now I’m speaking with Aaron Zack who is the CEO of Sunlighten. So Aaron, thank you for speaking to me.

Aaron:                                       Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Ari Meisel:                             So we’re going to talk about two things here mainly. First of all, the awesome infrared saunas that you guys make first of all, first and foremost, but then I really get into the technology of infrared and how that kind of works.

So how did you get with Sunlighten and how did this sort come about? Tell us a little bit about saunas themselves.

Aaron:                                       Sure. So my brother in law had high levels of mercury and he was unable to work. He was debilitated. He went to all these different doctors to know, to figure out what was wrong with him but yeah he would wake up every morning feeling nauseous, dizzy and just didn’t enjoy life.

It wasn’t until he went into a dentist and the dentist realized that he had amalgams in his mouth and he was leaking mercury into his blood stream and the dentist suggested that he purchase a far-infrared sauna at the time and he, our money from friends because he wasn’t working, purchased an infrared sauna and within 6 months, he was able to start jogging, he was feeling better, he was at a good job, and so he said, you know what I want to make a difference in other individual’s lives. This has been so impactful to me. I need to get this out to the world and that is how Sunlighten was formed.

Now, parallel past, I was at Procter & Gamble on the pharmaceutical side. I started in sales and moved into marketing and same with Connie who was my partner and together we both realized what a great opportunity this was to make a difference in people’s lives which is what we’re all about and so we both left Procter & Gamble and joined forces and the rest is history.

Ari Meisel:                             Wow, okay. So I wasn’t actually aware that infrared could help like with chelation basically.

Aaron:                                       Absolutely.

Ari Meisel:                             That’s pretty cool and I mean I don’t like it but I do like it that it sort of started with the health crisis that somebody’s great idea always come out of. Okay, so you said far-infrared first of all so why don’t we just start there. What is far-infrared as opposed to infrared in general?

Aaron:                                       Sure, sure. That was one of our key learning in our new technology so far-infrared is a great technology. It’s excellent for increasing circulation, decreasing blood pressure, but it’s most notably has its impact in our industry is for detoxification. It’s a much longer wavelength and when you truly think about far-infrared, it’s actually cooling. So the best and the most effective far-infrared is not hot at all, but what it does is it penetrates deep into your core body allowing you for a deeper sweat.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay, so how is it doing that really? I mean we’re just talking about light here obviously so I just want to explain this well to everybody.

Aaron:                                       Sure. It’s a wavelength, a wavelength of light and all we’re doing is we’re trying to emulate the most effective wavelength and by doing that you want to have what we talked about is black-body radiation and making sure we have the highest amount of emissivity, and so when we look at that there’s all different types of far-infrared heaters that are out there but we tested ours and shown that’s 95% emissive. Meaning that, 95% of the heat coming off of our heater is far-infrared.

Ari Meisel:                             Gotcha. Okay. So just again, I want to clarify this for some people. You know this isn’t like you’re microwaving yourself. You are basically, I think right almost at the mitochondria level, you’re getting heat generating.

Aaron:                                       Correct. Right.

Ari Meisel:                             And for everyone, the mitochondria are like the engines of our self basically and that’s what I’ve talked about before and you probably heard before how you can run on glucose or ketones. The mitochondria are really the things that are basically burning that and oxidizing it essentially. So the more effectively your mitochondria function, the better yourself will function and this definitely a very good way to do that.

So let’s get into some of the benefits Aaron. So first of all, chelation, I had no idea that it was helpful for that and is that just because it helps with cell repair or how’s that? How is that helping for chelation?

Aaron:                                       Sure, sure. So chelation is one way to eliminate toxicity from the bloodstream and some say that there’s a safer and effective ways and we feel like our product is.

So what we say is that, toxins get trapped within water molecules and as the infrared heat penetrates, it vibrates the water molecules and helps to release the toxins through sweat. It’s going to be in your largest organ, being one of the most effective ways to detoxify.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay and this is a big part of this. It’s really helping you detoxify and you can talk about sweat as a way to sort of getting things out of you and that’s one thing, but not necessarily seeing toxins in the sweat because your sweating. So what you’re talking about Aaron really is that you’re actually getting a break that free of what’s binding in some way so that it can really get out of you.

Aaron:                                       Correct.

Ari Meisel:                             So what are some other really great benefits? I mean, personally I think the infrared sauna is amazing for recovery.

Aaron:                                       Sure and that’s one of the things that we learned. So let’s go back a little bit, 2008, we setup a cross functional team and we said, far-infrared is great and we’ve seen a ton benefits but there’s so much more out there and what we didn’t realize until we did our deep dive into the research is that there’s different wavelengths within infrared.

So you have your near infrared, you have your mid infrared and we were just touching the surface of what and how we could help individuals by the far-infrared. So we looked at [0:05:58] such as Dr. Whalen who was the world renowned expert in near-infrared.

We looked into some of the benefits of mid-infrared and we thought, okay what if we’re able to build something that can revive all 3 spectrums and tap into the benefits of all those 3 different spectrums. What a difference in impact that could make. So do you want me to go into, I can talk a little bit about near-infrared?

Ari Meisel:                             Please. Absolutely. Yes, let’s do it.

Aaron:                                       So with near-infrared, it’s really, really cool because you can’t even feel it. So it’s an invisible light that doesn’t even give off heat and it’s just a great short wavelength through your body that’s excellent for wound healing, it’s excellent for pain relief, skin rejuvenation. Those are probably the three highlights to near-infrared.

The next one would be mid-infrared which is more your passive cardiovascular workout. It’ going to be great for weight loss, improving circulation and it also has a lot of benefits with pain relief as well.

Ari Meisel:                             And then of course you’ve got some of the far-infrared.

Aaron:                                       Yeah.

Ari Meisel:                             So now, in your thoughts you have the far-infrared sauna, you have the full spectrum sauna, so are you getting all of those wavelengths at the same time or is it cycling or how does that work?

Aaron:                                       Correct. So we developed different programs. We have skin rejuvenation, pain relief, weight loss. So we have different programs and what we did is we went through I would say about 300 clinical trials that have been conducted and what we did is we worked with different thought leaders.

We have a computer brain within our sauna and what we did is we developed programs that emulate the clinical trials that have been already out there and we based it upon the surface temperature re-heater and the [0:07:42] density, the size of our heaters to ensure that the consumers get the same amount of protocol jewels or energy from our heaters that they would’ve if they were doing the clinical and so all they have to do is push a button to get the benefits with our product.

Ari Meisel:                             So that’s something that I want to plan asking people and we’ll try to put an image in the show notes for this, but you guys have a really cool interface that as you said you can choose pain relief, you can choose rejuvenation. It’s really cool. It’s not just getting into a room with hot rocks which is nice too but this is really targeted therapy.

Aaron:                                       Correct. We try to make it as simple as possible where you could push a button and get the benefit that you’re looking for or you could be kind of geeky which I tend to be at times and we have a custom study where you can actually specify how much near-infrared, how much far-infrared and mid-infrared you want on the heater.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay, so we’ll look on that a little bit then. So when you’re doing that, like you personally you know, so you just want to relax, what do you do?

Aaron:                                       I just do the relaxation study.

Ari Meisel:                             Okay, so when…

Aaron:                                       So I keep it simple.

Ari Meisel:                             What are the circumstances then where you’re actually like you know breaking it down a little bit and choosing different wavelengths over others?

Aaron:                                       You know for me, I just run the programs and probably part of that is because I know what went into developing the programs and I know how beneficial they are. So when I run the treatments, I just choose a program that’s going to fit the need that I’m looking for and that’s why I run the way.

I would say the only time I use the custom settings for me personally is I’m showing the customer how the sauna works or if I’m just going in for a couple of minutes where a programs is going to be irrelevant.

Ari Meisel:                             Gotcha! Now one of the things that I really like that you have included and this is sort of one that you’re offering is the biofeedback aspect of it. So that’s something that I actually haven’t seen that in anywhere else, so how are you combining biofeedback with the sauna therapy?

Aaron:                                       Sure. So one of the aspects that we’ve seen in our industry is that there have been claims that you can burn up to 600 calories in a 30-minute sauna treatment and that doesn’t really soothe well with us.

What we wanted to do is to show kind of reality. So we worked hard with engineers to come up with an algorithm that would emulate bean inside our sauna and take your heart rate and kind of bench mark it off of the leading data that’s out there of the algorithms of heart monitors to give you a realistic function of how many calories you would burn in a sauna session.

So with the heart rate monitor, you connect it to the LCD and you can see exactly how many calories you are burning. You have to enter in your age, you have to enter in your weight and your sex, but it will give you a realistic quantity of calories being burned.

Ari Meisel:                             Yeah, and that’s really awesome. You know it’s one of the things that I always want to talk about and when people ask me what trackers I like there’s a tracking device called The Basis and one of the reasons is that it’s one of the few or maybe the only one’s that really has the skin temperature and also sweat, and so I tried to explain it by noticing a big difference between sitting in a desk and sitting in a hot room or sitting in a cold room for that matter, but most trackers won’t see the difference between that.

So I think that’s really great that you’re able to include the information and the other thing that I also like that you’ve included is chromotherapy.

Aaron:                                       Yeah.

Ari Meisel:                             So let’s talk about how that plays into it.

Aaron:                                       Sure, sure. So chromotherapy is very, very popular with our customers. We don’t have a ton of substantial data to support the chromotherapy but it’s been more customer feedback that they really appreciate. So different levels of colour provide different moods which enhances your experience. So some people like to take sauna treatments with blue, some with red. It just allows you to have an overall, more relaxing experience.

Ari Meisel:                             So it’s funny because there is very or limited real data as far as I’ve seen, but I personally I haven’t turn off right now but when I’m working in the morning or the night, I usually have a red light facing up and I even have this LED strips right here in the wall that I can change the colour.

I mean during the day, you really want blue and that just helps with circadian rhythms but what you find and I actually just did an interview with Helen Irlen from the Irlen Institute and they do these colour lenses where it’s basically everybody has a very different need as far as sort of colour inputs in the colour spectrum.

So you can find that for me, [00:12:22] green would be very relaxing and for someone else a deep purple maybe that sort of helps them get into that mode.

Aaron:                                       Absolutely.

Ari Meisel:                             I feel like with chromotherapy, it’s one of the situations where perception is reality. You know what, it’s making you, if you think it’s making you more relaxed, then it probably is making you more relaxed whether you can sort with that with data or not.

Aaron:                                       Right and that’s the important aspect.

Ari Meisel:                             Right, exactly. So another thing also attending with another thing I want to point out to with people is unlike a sauna that has a real heater in it, you’re not actually really sitting on a hot room with it.

Aaron:                                       Right.

Ari Meisel:                             So that’s what I think is important. This is really generating like inner heat.

Aaron:                                       Correct. We’re not about heating the air. We’re all about keying up the core body temperature. So one of the things that make us special is that we can heat your core body temperature up to 103 degrees, so we’re creating that, an inner fever within your body and that’s where you’re getting a lot of the different benefits.

Ari Meisel:                             Yeah and I just want to point out about that for someone, for instance like my son who is 2 years and 3 months old like for hot air in our house is really bad for him. We see it right away like he gets very stuffy and dried out and his skin shows that. So we actually keep the house rather cool but something like this where you’re generating that inner heat is a very, very different situation.

Aaron:                                       Yeah. One way I like to describe that might be helpful for your listeners is it’s like being in the sun. So if it’s 70 degrees outside and you have infrared shine on you, you feel that nice warm peaceful heat and then the cloud covers. It’s still 70 degrees but you feel cool. It’s that gentle warm infrared heat that you’re receiving naturally from the sun. That’s what you’re feeling when it feels so nice to have that sunshine on you.

Ari Meisel:                             Right and then another to point out regarding that specifically is that I think actually, correct me if I’m wrong, you can spend a little more time infrared sauna than you could with the traditional right?

Aaron:                                       Correct. We recommend 40-minute treatments.

Ari Meisel:                             Yeah.

Aaron:                                       And in fact, it’s better to stay in for 40 minutes than it would be to stay in for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ari Meisel:                             Right, right.

Aaron:                                       Typically, in a traditional sauna it’s so hot and oppressive that you can’t stay in for longer than 5 to 10 minutes before you’re getting out versus in an infrared sauna and our technology 40 minutes is what’s recommended and you kind of build up towards the end of the 40 minutes you’re ready to get out as your core body temperature increases, but the first 15 to 20 minutes is very peaceful and just relaxing.

Ari Meisel:                             Yeah and that’s nice because you know anyone who seems like a real hot traditional sauna like a Russian sauna whereas that you’ll often, usually a piece of it is a good place, you’ll see a sign that says you shouldn’t be in there for too long if you have a heart condition or part of something and that’s for that reason, and then what about contrasting cold therapy with the infrared sauna?

Have you played around with that at all because the cold therapy that you would do won’t be external, so how do you do that, because I’m a big fan of soft of cold therapy for reducing inflammation of everything, so how does that work?

Aaron:                                       Sure. We haven’t experimented a whole lot with cold therapy. All of our hopes have been more on the warm therapy but there’s a ton of advantage to using cold therapy with the infrared.

Ari Meisel:                             Yeah, great. So Aaron that’s really, I mean thank you for sharing all that information with us. You know for people to find out more the URL is, tell them what the URL is.

Aaron:                                       www.sunlighten.com

Ari Meisel:                             Yeah, and we’re going to have a link to all in the show notes and also some of the research that you post on your website as well and for those listening, I’m not exactly sure when this podcast is being released but I have noticed that you guys offer specials quite a bit.

Aaron:                                       We do, we offer specials and mention the show and we’ll definitely ensure to take care of you.

Ari Meisel:                             Thank you very much for that for everybody. So Aaron, thank you very much for talking to me.

Aaron:                                       Thank you. We appreciate it.