It’s only two weeks into 2019, but we've reached a singularity point when it comes to fulfilling your New Year's health and wellness resolutions. These days, smart-home technology is more accessible, affordable, and perhaps most important to a certain set, actually chic. At the intersection of tech and luxury, Bluetooth-enabled products are becoming more personalized and thoughtfully designed to integrate stylishly into your screen-obsessed life—as long as you have a WiFi connection.
“Millennials don’t care about having a mansion or a car,” says Hasier Larrea, founder of Ori, which fulfills the dream of walk-in closets in tiny city apartments using technology. "They care about clothes and computers. [Young] people consistently value closet space only after high-speed Internet." In 2011, Larrea had the idea to unite tech with industrial design, leading to the Pocket Closet, an expandable, robotic walk-in storage that contracts when you're not using it. Voice or app-controlled, the Ori system "is not science fiction," he assures me, but signifies a growing trend to augmenting the home.
In making your space adapt to you, design has become just as important as functionality—these are disruptive tools that don't also disrupt the look of your space. Brynn Putnam, founder of MIRROR, the see-it-to-believe-it home-fitness streaming device, confesses that she arrived at the aesthetics of her prototype before ever considering hiring an engineer. “The whole idea behind the design of MIRROR was making something that fits seamlessly inside of your apartment," she explains. "A treadmill is an eyesore or a glorified hanger. It needed to be really thin, frameless and floating, unobtrusive, and make sense anywhere from a modern loft to a traditional home.”
Sleek and about an inch deep, MIRROR is an interactive studio with live classes and an app that tracks your goals, progress, heart rate, and recommends new workouts based on your lifestyle. It makes personal training even more, well, personal than maybe a trainer. “We all walk around with a cellphone in our pocket and don’t think about it being there, but it’s a vital extension and enabler in our lives," Putnam explains. "The way we sort of view the world is that the MIRROR is the next screen in your home.”
Bespoke coaching, results tracking, and diagnosing treatment is becoming an essential part of smart products across the beauty and wellness industries. Dyson’s Pure Cool tower fan uses WiFi to regulate air temperature and quality while detecting and automatically removing allergens and pollutants. Clarisonic’s Mia Smart, the cult-favorite cleansing brush, now pairs with an app to customize your routine based on your skin’s needs while tracking your daily regimen.
Could a dermatologist do that?
Will the next Instagram flex be all about the impeccable balance of your skin’s pH levels? Or how deeply you slept? Eight Sleep is betting on it. The “first sleep-fitness company” app comes with an AI coach to optimize sleeping, from tracking breathing patterns, time spent in bed or falling asleep, and more snoozy biometrics determined by 28,000 different data points in your mattress. Cofounder and CEO Matteo Franceschetti predicts that “as society starts to become more aware of the importance of sleep, a trend we already see happening, we’ll start to see more [users] eager to share their scores from the app.” This gamification of basic human functions will hopefully get users to form new habits and also holds them accountable for those goals.
Connectivity in the home takes on a more complex meaning when you consider that each of these new products pairs not only with your phone but often with your other smart devices, creating an enhanced ecosystem in even the tiniest New York City apartment. Take, for example, GE’s new suite of light bulbs designed specifically to adapt to your daily or nightly routine. C-Sleep and C-Life, respectively, simulate the daily sequences of natural light, controlled by an Echo or Google Assistant, alerting you when it may be time to disconnect. “There’s no one size fits all,” concludes Larrea. “Think about the robotics as the muscle, connected to the brains [the central hub], and the design is the skin.”
If this all sounds straight out of Black Mirror, let another Netflix star, Marie Kondo of Tidying Up, help you maintain the balance between the digital and the human. “When I was introduced to smart tech, my first impression was that it was a very positive, great thing," she says. "But at the same time, I think it’s very important to consider what part of our lives need to be systemized and what part would you rather be more hands-on with and take more care about.”
So even if Alexa is not able to tell you whether something “sparks joy,” it won’t be long before the smart objects in your home can tell you just about anything else about yourself.