Personlig pleie og helse/Personal care and health

Produkter og løsninger relatert til helse/Products and solutions related to health

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This is the last “system” added to these pager about the smart home. It is certainly possible to argue whether it logically belongs here, and in some ways it does not; products in this category typically offer much fewer ways to integrate into more complex smart home systems. On the other hand, it is about products that are “smart” in some way or another and that are typically used in the home, so I have chosen to include it. And by now, my own personal experiences are quite limited so this specific page and presented products will probably expand over time.

This is a potentially very extensive “world” with an enormous selection of different product types for different usages. I have therefore limited the presentation to product categories that I either believe are of more general interest, I personally are interested in, or have a logical connection to smart homes in general. Some usage areas, with trying to be exhaustive, are:

  • Sensors/products for measurement/monitoring:

    • Weight

    • Exercise/fitness

    • Sleep

    • Heart/blood pressure

  • Products for care/well-being:

    • Shaving/hair removal/hair care

    • Tooth care

    • Shower

Smart scales

Smart scales is probably one of the products under personal care with the longest history; in our home we have a scale that goes years back that also measures body fat and BMI. As for other product types, though, for me the line between non-smart and smart is drawn where the scale is connected to an app and can deliver data for other purposes than just displaying the measurements on the display on the scale itself (which is how limited ours is):

Modern, smart scales have such a connection to an app or other online services, and many can integrate with Apple Health, Google Fit,or Fitbit. The scales have sensors that measure different data points (in addition to weight factors like muscle/bone mass, body fat, heart rhythm, etc.) and synchronize the data with supported apps, where you typically can set goals and track your weight and other measurements over time. Many support multiple users so that they can be used by several members of the household.

Some examples of specific products are:

  • Garmin Index Smart Scale, which measures weight, body mass index, body fat, muscle mass, etc., and offers the best integration with Garmin’s other products

  • Whitings Body+, which is said to be the most advanced scale, it measures fat and muscle mass, water levels in the body, bone mass, etc., and it recognizes the users based on the measurements, it presents the weather forecast for the day when you step onto it, and it has extensive integration with other systems, including the Apple Watch

  • fitbit Aria, which comes in a couple of editions (Air og 2), this one measures a little less factors than the most advanced products, but has naturally very good integration with Fitbit fitness trackers

  • RENPHO ES-CS20M Smart Bluetooth Body Fat Scale, which is said to measure the most variables, thirteen, and has good integration with other systems, but is surprisingly inexpensive, which might explain why some complain about its accuracy

  • CardioBase 2, which sets itself apart by using emojis to show the trends of the measurement, and it has a separate mode for pregnant users

In our home, we have a Withings Body+ smart scale, see the office for more information.

Fitness trackers

This might sound like a rather unified group of products, but like for many other groups, the situation is more varied than one might believe. The basic principle of fitness trackers is that they record physical activity. This, however, can be done in several different ways, from the most basic approach used by the type of step counters most probably having lying around unused, to measurements of a number of variables, like heart rate, distances moved, calories burned, etc. Again, the distinction between a old-fashioned stand-alone step counter and the like and a smart fitness tracker is that the device integrates with an app on a smart phone or other unit, so that registered data can be analyzed and displayed there, and possible being used by other apps/devices.

The selection of products is large, and there are a number of things to consider before buying one. Which type of workout you do plays an important role. Are you primarily taking walks, you might not need anything beyond a suitable app on your smart phone, if you work out outdoor waterproofing is an issue. For some types of trackers, you need to bring a smart phone with you, others can work on their own. And the more functionality/measurements taken, like measuring heart rate, having GPS, etc., the more expensive they get. One issue to consider is whether the trackers have support for ANT+, which is a standard to ensure compatibility between fitness devices (but which require an “adapter” for connection to a smart phone). In terms of looks and where they are placed on the body, there are also major differences, from bracelets, rings, or sensors strapped around the chest to products clipped to a waistband/belt/shoe, or even measurement capabilities built into products with other core functionality, like in a cycle helmet. And while fitness trackers originally was a separate product category, there are many smart watches available now that offer most of the same functionality, but often at a higher price.

Some examples of manufacturers and selected products from these:

  • fitbit, a large supplier of fitness trackers, split into dedicated fitness trackers of the bracelet type, e.g., the fitbit versa 2

  • Garmin, known for products for navigation, marine applications, action cameras, etc., but also a rich selection of fitness gear, including trackers. Also Garmin distinguishes between pure fitnesss trackers, like the vívosmart 4, and smart watches, like Venu

  • Huawei, a large (and controversial) supplier of a broad spectrum of products, including fitness trackers, like Band 4, and more advanced smart watches, like Watch GT 2

  • Samsung, which offers about every thing consumer electronics, also has both fitness trackers, e.g., Galaxy Fit, and smart watches, like Galaxy Watch Active2

  • Polar, this is a company more specialized in fitness gear, even fitness trackers for bikes and horses! Polar does not separate as clearly between smart watches and fitness trackers, but rather calls most such products watches, either for running, like Polar M430, for “multisport”, like Polar Vantage V Titan, or a more generic workout watch, Polar M600

  • Apple, offers its smart watch, Apple Watch, in different generations and sizes, which is also a highly competent fitness trackers

  • Motiv, somewhat different from all the above in that the primary product is a ring for fitness tracking, Motiv Ring

  • Oura, this is also a company promoting a ring with sensors, which is first and foremost means for sleep tracking, but which also works as a fitness tracker

Sleep tracking

Sleep tracking is on one hand a separate category of health-based monitoring, but on the other hand it utilizes many of the same parameters used in fitness tracking, such as movement and heart rate. This means that fitness trackers and smart watches can work as sleep trackers as well, the same goes for “smart rings”, like the above-mentioned Oura Ring. But in addition, there are several types of products that are dedicated sleep trackers, often called “non-wearables” in that they don’t have skin contact, that measure breathing, movement, temperature in the room, and even snoring. The latter normally requires an active connection with a smart phone for sound registration, but in general all sleep trackers connect to a smart phone, either a dedicated manufacturer app or some other suitable app for analysis and display of sleep data.

Again there are many products to choose among so only a small selection is featured here:

  • Fitness trackers/smart watches that also can track sleep, which is true for most of the ones mentioned above, like fitbit versa 2, Polar M430, Oura Ring, and Apple Watch

  • Sleep trackers utilizing sensors placed in the bed, where the ones with best test scores seem to be:

    • Whitings Sleep, which measures sleep, breathing, as well as snoring, but also has integration with IFTTT, e.g., allowing lights to automatically turn down/off when going to bed

    • Beddit, which has been released in some generational editions, the current being 3.5, launched after the company was acquired by Apple. This also measures sleep and snoring and has, not surprisingly, very good integration with iPhone/Apple Watch. We have a Beddit 3.0, see more about this under master bedroom.

    • Emfit QS, this is also based on sensors placed by the bed, but unlike Whitings and Beddit, which are placed directly under the sheet, this can be placed under the mattress, in addition to a separate microphone that measures snoring

  • Furthermore, there is also a sleep tracker, RedMed S+, which is not dependent on physical contact, but can be placed on the night stand

Heart/blood pressure monitoring

This is also a category with clear overlap with fitness trackers and smart watches, most of these measure heart rhythm in one way or another. In addition, there are both other products than can measure heart rate, e.g., earbuds, but also more specialized heart rate monitors. There is also a fundamental choice between technology; monitors that are worn on the wrist typically use optimal sensor for making measurements while sensors strapped around the chest uses an electrical pulse, which is said to be most accurate.

Again I can only present examples of products from a rich selection available on the market (fitness trackers and smart watches have not been included yet again here, even though it is worth mentioning that the Apple Watch from Series 4 also can make ECG measurements, nit only measure heart rate), but some heart rate/pulse monitors are:

  • Rhythm+ Armband Heart Rate Monitor, a monitor of the bracelet type, without its own display, but compatible with a large number of apps

  • Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband, another product of the same type as Rhythm+, and both have the advantage that the lack of a display means better battery life than products with a screen

  • Polar H10, this is perhaps a product you have seen on TV used by professional athletes, a monitor of the type that is strapped around the chest

  • 4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor, this is attached by an elastic band, which can be adjusted from 57 to 132 cm and thus worn different places on the body

  • Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds, wireless earbuds with built-in heart rate monitor, these are “completely wireless”, i.e., with no wire connecting the two buds

  • Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless, also wireless earbuds that measure heart rate, but these have a wire connecting the two sides together

One step up in complexity in measurement is blood pressure, which requires more specialized products. Some blood pressure monitors meant for domestic use are not “smart” according to my definition, i.e., being connected to a smart phone and with room for sharing the data with other devices, so these are stand-alone products with their own display. But there are smart devices, either basing their operations completely on connection with a smart phone or with this as an extra feature. Most of these are used on the upper arm, which is recommended for best accuracy, but there are also monitors worn around the wrist. Some can also detect deviations in heart rhythm.

Again, I will only provide some examples of relevant products:

  • Omrom Platinum Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, a “classic” upper arm monitor, with is own display, but also with connection to an app on a smart phone

  • Beurer BM 95 Bluetooth upper arm blood pressure monitor, this also measures the blood pressure on the upper arm, but in addition there is a separate sensor for heart rhythm, and via Bluetooth the monitor is connection to a smart phone app

  • iHealth Feel Smart Blood Pressure Monitor, which also measures on the upper arm, but this has to be connected to a phone

  • QardioArm Smart Blood Pressure Monitor, another upper arm monitor without display, but somewhat larger in that the cuff has a small “box” on it

  • Omron 7 Series Wireless Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor, a wrist monitor, with a display on the cuff, but it can also be connected to a phone

  • iHealth Sense Wireless Wrist Monitor, another wrist monitor, but without display and thus meant for use together with a smart phone

Smart shaving/hair removal/hair care

When I was pondering creating a category for personal care, I assumed that shaving/hair removal would be an area with many available products. Some investigations have though proven this to be untrue, by the fall of 2019 there are precious few alternatives to choose among. For men, with the provision that there are other products that I have not uncovered, there seems to be only one smart shaver available. For women the situation is slightly better, there are some products for so-called IPL-based (intense pulsed light) hair removal. I would think there is a potential for more products here, but so far these seem to be relevant mentioning:

  • Philips Smart Shaver series 7000, this shaver connects to a smart phone via Bluetooth. The machine has a built-in sensor that measures the shave and sends data about it to the app, which then gives advice about how to shave

  • BaByliss Homelight Connected, this is an IPL-based hair removal product with Bluetooth. It does not seem to have sensor, though, but uses data from the product to have a smart phone app remind you when it is time for the next treatment.

  • Philips Lumea, this is a series of several products from Philips for OIPL hair removal. As far as I can tell, none of these are connected to a phone, but Philips has a Philips Lumea IPL app which gives advice about the use of IPL

Finally, it might be worth mentioning some other, possible quite curious, possibilities. For example, Kérastase in collaboration with Whitings announced in 2017 a smart hair brush that was supposed to become available for sale later that year, but that product does not seem to have materialized. BaByliss has launched a series of hair care products with a digital sensor, e.g., Big Hair Care, but it seems that sensor is just used to adapt air/heat/etc. to the hair, without any connection to a smart phone or use of the data from the sensor for any other purpose.

Smart tooth brushes

If you have lived a while and so far gotten by with an old-fashioned toothbrush, perhaps never having even tried an electric brush, this probably sounds a like a product there is no need to spend good money on. The advantages of a smart toothbrush are though many; it can help to make you brush as often and for as long as is recommended, they can learn how you brush and thus help avoid brushing too hard or overlooking areas. And if you like technology and gadgets, this is certainly not the worst place to go (as for myself, I have not made the leap yet, awaiting the battery in the electric, but “dumb” brush I have to die).

As usual, I only mention some examples of products, but there are more to choose among (even if the market today seems to be dominated by a few brands):

  • Oral-B Genius, which is a collective term for a series of smart toothbrushes, which feature “position detection technology” so that it knows which areas have been brushed, pressure control to avoid gum damage, etc. Information from the toothbrush is shown in the accompanying Oral-B app.

  • Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart, which comes in some different versions, and also measures brush pressure and uses an app, Philips Sonicare, to display data from the brushing and giving advice about the brushing

  • Colgate Smart Electric Toothbrush - E1, this uses it version, “mouth mapping” technology, to know where and how long you have brushed, and uses a Colgate Connect app to guide the brushing (Colgate by the way also offers a smart toothbrush for children using augmented reality to make the brushing more fun)

  • Kolibree ara, yet another smart toothbrush with similar functionality as those mentioned above, with its own Kolibree app, which used game principles to encourage better brushing habits, especially aimed at children

In our case, we have an Oral-B Genius X smart toothbrush, see bathroom upstairs for more information.

Smart showers

Whether this belongs under personal care can certainly be discussed, but I have chosen to include it here. This is primarily about shower systems with different types of smart solutions, which offer several benefits. Typically you use less water by bringing the water to the desired temperature more quickly and by adapting the amount of water during the shower, equally less energy to heating of the water, some offer scolding protection, and the operations are more elegant than for classic showers. Some also offer integration with smart home platforms, have built-in speakers or phone calls, have colored lights, and some have displays showing various parameters. A challenge for people in countries with 220 V electrical systems is that many of the solutions available only work with 110 volts, some might also require gas-based heating of the water or specific valves which might not be used where you live.

Some smart shower systems are (especially on Amazon you can find a number of other products, but common for many of these is that the vendor does not have its own web page, making me sceptical):

  • U by Moen Smart Shower, this is really an extensive system, with a separate operations panel (with display), voice control (there is support for Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant), as well as control from a smart phone app. But installation seems to be a complicated job, and it seems mostly suited for the US market.

  • DTV+ Showering System with Kohler Konnect, maybe not as advanced as U by Moen, but with many options for making adjustments via app or voice control (this requires a separate DTV+ Konnect Module). This also seems to be a product mainly aimed at US customers.

  • SmarTap, this is a company offering a number of smart showers, where the shower can be controlled using an app or through integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or IFTTT. These can supposedly be used with any type of existing shower, but the installation instructions mention a water pump, specific valve types, etc., so I wonder how easy they are to install.

  • Grohe Rainshower SmartControl, a series of showers (the link is to one type called Duo 360), but the degree of “smartness” is rather limited, as far as I can tell they are not connected or allow app/voice control, but rather sports smarter operations at the shower itself