Controlling your environment goes a long way toward controlling, and improving, your health. And the market is exploding with new offerings designed to help you do just that.
"Consumers are demanding more," said Jon Hall, senior brand manager for Whirlpool. "They want more flexibility. They want to be able to see more. They want personalization."
Take the refrigerator, he said. It's basically a box. But newly redesigned interiors allow consumers to glance inside produce bins without opening a drawer, and some drawers are also adjustable, so customers can fit in all their fresh farmers market produce without bruising the broccoli.
Cedric Hutchings, chief executive of Withings, an industry leader in the field of smart health devices, said consumer offerings are quickly expanding beyond wearables such as fitness trackers. "We think home is a place where more and more consumers will be empowered to measure and optimize a healthy environment."
Here is a sampling of the gadgets, gizmos, devices, apps and appliances you'll be seeing sooner rather than later:
Oral-B Pro Smartseries 7000 Bluetooth toothbrush
Get the weather, news and more while you brush away and monitor an accompanying mobile app. The app helps you log how much brushing time you put in, follows along as you work your way around the mouth (so you don't miss any spots) and sends up a red flag when you're using too much pressure. Available in March at major retailers for about $219.
You know how some songs just have the right beat for your run or hike? This app helps you find more of those in-sync tunes to make your workout fly by. The app helps you find your perfect steps-per-minute beat and keeps delivering the music that will keep you in the groove. The app is free to download on iTunes and prices vary depending on music services purchased.
Withings blood pressure monitor
Home blood pressure monitors are already available, but they can be clunky. This version underscores how designers are trying to simplify, simplify, simplify. It straps onto the arm and launches a smartphone app. Punch the start button, and you'll get a blood pressure and heart rate reading on your phone. The app plots trends, sends reminder alerts and can also relay info to a doctor. Retails for $129.95 at withings.com.
A sensor pad slips under your mattress and helps you keep track of data including how long you spent in different stages of sleep, the quality of your sleep and your heart rate throughout. Why does any of this matter? Analyzing the data could help you discover patterns. (Do you toss and turn when you eat or exercise too close to bedtime?) Correcting that could lead to more restful nights. The Aura also includes light and sound patterns designed to trigger the release of melatonin, and "gently bring you to your light sleep phase, the best moment to wake you up." Retails for $299.95.
Withings Smart Body Analyzer
Looks like a regular scale, right? But it measures your resting heart rate (a fitness indicator) and air quality in addition to weight and body composition. "By monitoring and managing indoor air quality, people can live and sleep in a healthier environment," the company says. Retails for $149.95.
Beds are about to get a lot smarter, and this is just one example. Sensors that connect to a smartphone app encourage healthy sleep habits andcan alert parents if a wee one gets out of bed in the middle of the night. The app also includes a bedtime routine checklist, and children can earn stars for getting lots of shut-eye. (No doubt this last one is a selling point for sleep-deprived parents.)
But arguably the cutest selling point is this: The app includes a handy "scan" for monsters, so children can rest easy when they get the all-clear sign. The bed is expected to hit the market later this year for around $1,000. More details.
Roomy Whirlpool fridge
If there's one thing consumers demand from their refrigerators, it's more space, said Hall. Whirlpool's new Double Drawer French Door fridge, expected to be available this spring, will include two soft-close drawers. Features include temperature control, ideal conditions for preserving produce and a setting for thawing frozen meat. There's also under-shelf lighting that helps you better see what might be wilting in the back. Price not available.
Neo smart container
We all know we're supposed to cook more at home and keep a food journal if we want to watch our weight. This Bluetooth-enabled smart jar aims to help by tracking the food inside and logging it in your smartphone, so you never end up at the market wondering how much quinoa you have at home or how much you need to log in your food journal. Available later this year. Price not available. skelabs.com
Babolat Play tennis racket
Sensors relay all kinds of details, including shot power, ball impact locations and number of strikes. You can also see how you stack up against friends and top players including Rafael Nadal. Expect to see more devices like this, a sort of middle ground between videos games and real life. (And if it's more fun to play, you'll play more.) Expected in stores soon, $349. Babolat.us
Honeywell bills this monitor as a simple way to connect a remotely located patient and a care provider, but it also gives you a glimpse of the types of devices that aging adults could use to foster independent living even if they are not tech savvy. Use it with a tablet for video visits and educational classes, all aimed at improving patient compliance and healthful behaviors. Available as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
Large screen. Large, clear prompts. This remote patient monitor provides an easy way for patients to check in with healthcare providers, according to Honeywell. It reminds patients of appointments and when to take medication and can help manage a number of conditions, including diabetes and hypertension. Available as prescribed by a healthcare provider.