Wearable and health tech are huge this year at CES, but instead of focusing solely on smart watches and smart glasses, we're looking at a weird new world where everything is connected to the internet, controlled by a smartphone and meant to monitor your every move.
The bizarre gadgets at CES 2014:
Sensoria smart socks, sports bras and t-shirts, by Heapsylon, take tracking to a new level.
The shirts and bras monitor heart rate, while the socks track activity, measure cadence and how the foot touches the ground. The data is sent to an app that is compatible with iPhone, Android or Windows Phone.
Then there's the $99 internet-connected electric toothbrush by Kolibree that tracks how long teeth are brushed.
The data is synced via Bluetooth and sent to your phone. Since you can setup multiple users, then you can tell if your kids are telling you the truth about how long and how well they brushed their teeth.
Sleep Number unveiled a smarter bed that not only monitors your sleep patterns with BAM Labs Sleep IQ, but also allows you to tap a "Partner Snore" feature on a remote to shift the bed to stop your partner's snores. The bed responds to voice commands to turn on the anti-snore feature, to trigger the built-in massage function and to turn on under-bed lighting.
If you simply can't live without your bed being connected to the Internet, but you don't have $8,000 to drop on a new Sleep Number x12 bed, then Withings introduced Aura [pdf], a smart sleep system that slips under your current mattress.
Withings's Raphael Auphan told NPR that the device detects movements, sleep stages, heart rate and breathing rate and then sends the data to a smartphone app. "What happens if you're doing, well, other things in bed that you don't want to be monitored?" Auphan said. "If you're ever [in a] moment of sensuality and you don't want to have anything monitored, you basically caress the device on the side and it will switch off'."
A company called medissimo unveiled Imedipac, a smart pill box, which Digital Trends said "will probably confuse your grandparents." The internet-connect pill box is "fitted with optical sensors. It makes it easy for the patient to take their medication safely and regularly, to take their pills at the right time, day after day, morning, noon or night, as well as to share monitoring of their adherence with a third party and healthcare networks remotely and in real time, in a reliable and secure way, supported by LED indicators and alarms."
Do you ride a bike? If so, then Schwinn has CycleNav, a $60 GPS that clips to your handlebars and flashes its lights to tell you which direction to go. It also has turn-by-turn voice navigation. You setup your route on your Android or iPhone, and then it is sent via Bluetooth to the device. Because a bike ride is apparently incomplete without being able to post to Facebook, the app "has biking specific directions for anywhere in the USA, Facebook integration, stats tracking, and more."
There are fitness and health trackers galore. Sony unveiled its $135 Core, "a tiny, waterproof device that works with an app to track your daily activity." It's meant to be inserted in Sony's $20 -27 SmartBand. LG showed off its $179 Lifeband Touch, which tracks "your steps taken, distance, calories burned," and can "display call and notification information, as well as controlling music playback" and also functions as a watch. Garmin introduced vívofit that monitors steps, calories and the like, but also "learns your current activity level, then automatically assigns an attainable daily goal." It has a one-year battery life.
Netatmo showed off its $99 June, another wearable band that tells you how much sun exposure "is too much" to better save your skin from wrinkles. Wellograph unveiled a Sapphire Wellness Watch, but unlike Basis Band, Jawbone Up24, and Nike Fuelband SE, it "isn't smart enough to log the duration and quality of your sleep."
Those are but a few examples of wearable fitness and health tech being unveiled at CES, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see health insurance companies get behind these products that monitor everything about you. After all, if you're willing to give up your privacy, car insurance companies pimp devices that hook into your vehicle to see how well you drive, and adjust your payments accordingly. Why wouldn't health insurance companies want to get their hands on your health and fitness data?
Lastly, you may recall how easily WeMo can be hacked, but that didn't stop Belkin from unveiling three new WeMo products. It remains to be seen how quickly the smartphone-controlled rechargeable lightbulbs and crock-pots will be exploited.
The $99.99 Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker enabled with WeMo allows users to remotely turn on/off, change temperature or time settings from anywhere and even receive reminders. The $129.99 WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set and the $39.99 WeMo Smart LED Bulbs "allow you to control, schedule and dim your smart LED bulbs from anywhere." Then there's the WeMo Maker Kit, which "empowers DIYers to build their own WeMo solutions by adding Internet connectivity to any device controlled with a DC switch."
That was a look a few of the strange, new, bizarre and weird -- but not necessarily wonderful -- gadgets and devices unveiled so far at CES 2014.
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