The Future Is Here


Smartbeds offer personalization and ways to improve sleep and health.

Sleep Number Sensory selling booth

In 2005, I traveled to Seattle on a work trip. One of the highlights was a visit to Microsoft’s Home of the Future. In this model home, Microsoft showcased its vision of how technology could make our lives easier. I was amazed. Every room had a technology that felt like something out of “The Jetsons.”  

Scan your palm to enter the house. No keys needed! Announce your arrival and the house turns on the lights. Pull out a bag of flour in the kitchen and a list of recipes appears on the countertop. Use your voice to turn on the TV. 

Keep in mind, this was two years before the launch of the iPhone. We didn’t have the internet in the palm of our hands. We didn’t have Alexa or Siri listening in. Such ideas seemed fantastical. 

And, yet, here we are, nearly 20 years later and many of those ideas don’t seem nearly as far-fetched.

For example, we recently replaced our HVAC unit. Now, instead of getting up to adjust the thermostat, I can change the temperature through an app on my phone. I can even change the thermostat when I’m away from home and want to conserve energy. 

As Julie A. Palm writes in the Product Spotlight, smart devices seem to be everywhere now. You can have a smartphone, smartwatch, smart refrigerators and smart doorbells. And, of course, you can have a smartbed.

The Product Spotlight focuses on several manufacturers offering smartbeds. These mattresses make it easy for consumers to personalize their sleep experience. Try as I might, I can’t recall what was in the bedroom of the Microsoft Home of the Future but it seems like these beds would fit right in.

The technology offers everything from sensors to regulate temperature to artificial intelligence to adapt to changes in bodies and sleep habits. In addition to keeping sleepers comfortable, these mattresses can act as a health monitor of sorts. Some measure health data, such as average heart rate and breathing rate.

Sleep Number, a leader in adding smart features, sees its mattresses as vehicles for health as much as for sleep. “Over time, the smartbeds may be able to identify out-of-the-norm events and alert sleepers to pattern changes,” the company says. “In the future, the beds may also detect illness and alert sleepers to potential health conditions, including insomnia, sleep apnea or cardiac events.”

It’s exciting to see the potential these beds hold for all kinds of consumers. Younger buyers, who have grown up with smartphones, are likely to be attracted to the technology. Older consumers might find comfort in health data. 

As technology evolves, I expect our industry will advance along with it. In the meantime, it might be wise to put smartbeds in your store. It’s yet another way to offer personalization in our digital world.