Those lights flickering in Las Vegas this week aren’t coming from the Strip. They’re emanating from health and fitness gadgets at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
There’s been a notable emphasis on products for boomers, with a "Silvers Summit" track providing talks and presentations on a wide range of boomer-relevant topics. (Check out the PBS NewsHour video, "Can New Apps Lead to a New You for 2014?")
After sifting through dozens of health-tech devices featured there, below are a few that look promising, either because their manufacturers have proven track records or because the gear brims with originality and potential.
(MORE: 10 Top Wellness Apps to Meet Your Goals)
But beware: CES is famous for touting tech products that never see the light of day.
Fall in love with one of the gizmos described here, and your heart might get broken. It’s a good bet, though, that you'll find another like it sooner or later.
FootLogger: Watching Your Every Step
Fitness trackers built into high-tech bracelets and watches are all the rage, but how about one built into an athletic-shoe insole? That’s what 3L Labs offers in its new FootLogger ($100), due later this year.
The insole houses multiple pressure sensors along with a three-axis accelerometer to monitor a user’s activity levels.
It measures stride, stance, cadence and more, and is designed to spot poor walking patterns that can take a toll on the spine and other parts of the body. The maker says FootLogger can even detect gait abnormalities that can predict dementia and falling problems in the elderly and frail.
(MORE: New Studies Reveal a Link Between Alzheimer's and Changes in Gait)
iHealth Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor
A company called iHealth Lab has staked out a position as one of the most advanced makers of consumer health-tech gear, and it made a splash at CES this year.
One of the products it showed off, an Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor, is worn inside a vest and takes continual readings that are fed to Android or iOS smartphones via Bluetooth wireless. The company’s CES arsenal also included an Ambulatory ECG gadget to monitor heart activity while connected to a user’s chest, with data pushed to a mobile device, and a Wearable Pulse Oximeter for monitoring pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation via a wristband with a fingertip sensor attachment.
These devices are due during the second half of this year — pending FDA approval. Pricing has not been released. ihealthlab.com
Sleep Number X12
Select Comfort, the company known for the adjustable Sleep Number beds, showed off its new X12 model with the claim that it is "probably the best bed in the world."
The X12 is more adjustable than earlier models, with a high-tech remote that can alter the bed’s firmness and positioning — flat for sleeping, angled upward for reading — with the tap of a button. The high-tech clicker even responds to voice commands, turning on your bed’s built-in nightlight or giving you a massage with a few simple words. Does your partner snore? A command stops that by slightly elevating his or her head.
You can monitor your sleep patterns on a smartphone or tablet using a Sleep Number app, as well. Sensors in the bed measure your movement, average breathing and heart rate, and send this data to your device. The X12 turns this into a game, awarding SleepIQ points and showing you how to improve your scoring.
The X12, due in February, is not cheap at $8,000 for a queen-sized version. sleepnumber.com
(MORE: 7 Big Myths About Body Fat)
The Aura: Find Peaceful Sleep
Withings, known for its high-tech scale and activity bracelet, later this year will offer the Aura ($299) bedside device to help you sleep.
The futuristic gizmo, which looks like the love child of an alarm clock and nightstand lamp, has a variety of lighting patterns along with soothing music to help you conk out more quickly, snooze more deeply and wake up more cheerfully.
The unit, which mointors the noise, light and temperature in your bedroom, is paired with a pad under your pillow that can sense your heart rate, breathing and movements.
As with other health and fitness gadgetry, data is uploaded to the Internet for long-term tracking.
The Kolibree: Earn Points for Brushing Your Teeth Better
A smart … toothbrush?
The Kolibree (estimated cost: $100 to $200) is designed to monitor your brushing habits, which is no more outlandish than a smart fork which was the talk of last year’s CES.
If you missed a spot (or more), Kolibree will tell you. It even turns brushing into a game by awarding points for your technique. Brushing well may be more important than you realize. As Next Avenue has noted, oral health is the key to total health.
The brush links via Bluetooth to your phone and a Kolibree app lets you keep track of your progress over time. Multiple people using separate heads can use the brush, with data recorded for each user.
If this sounds like a gadget you want, contribute to the maker’s Kickstarter campaign when it launches later in the year.