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How Smart Is Your Fork?

We have no secrets, as a new wave of smart devices tell us how to eat less, brush better, sleep soundly and defend ourselves.

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by James A. Martin

Well-Being
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Is that a fork in your hand? Or is it a weight-loss device? Both, in the case of HAPIfork, which numbers among a growing wave of everyday objects that have gone smart, connecting wirelessly to the Internet and gathering information about you: your body, physical activities, diet, biometric readings and other data. If they can morph, so can you.

1. A fork that tries to keep you from eating (too much). Why, in the name of Julia Child, would you pay a C-note for a fork? Maybe because it buzzes and lights up when you eat too fast. Or because it measures the time it takes you to finish a meal, how often you’ve lifted the fork to your mouth, and how long you paused between forkfuls. The more slowly you eat, the less you eat. The less you eat, the more weight you lose. And the more HAPIforks you purchase, the less money you have for food. HAPIfork is made by Slow Control; it’s available now for $100.

2. A toothbrush that analyzes your brushing. Once you’ve finished your HAPIfork meal, fire up your Kolibree Toothbrush. The battery-powered toothbrush, which debuted at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, incorporates an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer to monitor how well you brush your teeth. You’ll be able to check your progress using connected mobile apps. Kolibree’s toothbrush is expected to be available for $99 to $199 later this year. Can a halitosis-detecting mouthwash be far behind?

     See also: Seeking Lowly Beans Led to Culinary Wonders

3. A bra that senses your mood. Those of us who were around in the 1970s remember the mood ring. In this brave new century comes the mood bra. The smart brassiere that Microsoft is developing will sense the wearer’s mood by monitoring heart rate and skin activity (such as sweating). Armed with this data, the bra recognizes if you’re in a mental state that might trigger emotional eating. In the next phase of research, the bra will deliver an “appropriately timed, personalized intervention.” (No release date or price has been set as of this writing.)

4. Ear buds that read your heart rate. At CES 2014, LG announced the HRM Earphone, which wirelessly beam heart-rate data to an LG smartphone app or to LG's upcoming Lifeband activity tracker. (The price and availability haven’t been announced for either device.) The idea is to track heart rate while you rock out to tunes.

5. Contact lenses that monitor your glucose levels. Google recently announced it is developing smart contacts that will measure the glucose levels in your tears. The lenses could eliminate the need for diabetics and pre-diabetics to prick their fingers to draw blood for at-home glucose monitoring. Google is said to be adding LED lights inside the lenses that will activate when glucose levels are off. (No release date or pricing has been announced.)

     See also: Be Mine, Siri?

6. A bed that keeps your spouse from snoring. Sleep Number mattresses let you control the firmness on either side using a remote control. For a mere eight grand, the upcoming x12 will monitor how you and your honey sleep by tracking average breathing rate, movement and heart rate. Sleep Number’s algorithms then crunch the data to assess your sleep quality. The Partner Snore feature can raise your spouse’s headrest to stop the sound. (The bed is available in pilot markets now, nationwide in coming months, according to Select Comfort Corporation.)

7. An iPhone case that’s a stun gun. The Yellow Jacket case for iPhone 5 and 5s includes a detachable stun gun pack that lets you fire away using left- or right-handed triggers. An external battery doubles your iPhone’s battery longevity, according to developer Yellow Jacket LLC. The case comes in various colors such as pink (why not carry a pink stun gun?) and will cost $150 when available in March.

James A. Martin is a veteran technology journalist and content marketing specialist for small businesses.

Follow him on Twitter, @james_a_martin.

Photo credit: Still image from ‘The Jetsons, Jane, Judy, Astro, George and Elroy, Photo Credit:Everett Collection Mechanics of Breakfast Photo Credit: Catherine MacBride/Flickr/Getty