Most of the attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show, in January, were on the hunt for self-driving cars and improved smartphone cameras, but I arrived at the Las Vegas expo looking for high-tech innovations in beauty. I walked past the AI chemistry teachers and the robot puppy, and headed straight to the at-home lipstick maker and plaque-detecting toothbrush. Over the course of three days, I discovered that our makeup and skin-care routines will be just as high-tech as our living rooms—and change is coming faster than you’d think.
The Smart Toothbrush
Brushing your teeth is possibly the least sexy part of your daily routine, which is probably why the average person only spends about 45 seconds doing it. (The American Dental Association recommends a full two minutes.) But new electric brushes are making this mundane experience more fun, more efficient, and more worthy of 120 seconds.
Remember those chewable tabs that made your teeth glow pink to show where you needed to brush? Well, the 2020 version of that is the Colgate Plaqless Pro brush, which can actually pinpoint the buildup that leads to plaque. “We use blue light fluorescent technology and the toothbrush itself can see, as it is being used, where you have buildup,” explains Derek Gordon, VP and GM of global toothbrush at Colgate Palmolive. If you have biofilm on your teeth (and we all do, from bacteria), the brush handle shows a blue band to indicate you’ve got more work to do. After you’ve cleared the area of debris, the band turns white.
When developing the iO Toothbrush, Oral-B’s research team studied and decoded the movements of thousands of toothbrushers to create a custom algorithm. The result: The brush’s handle can sense the angles you’re using to determine exactly where you are brushing and identify where you need to focus more time. (Spoiler alert: You probably missed your molars.) Sync with the app to see your real-time progress across 16 different zones inside your mouth. This advanced brush also has a next-generation linear magnetic motor that reduces noise and vibration.
And oral hygiene may get even better: “You’re putting this brush in your mouth every day,” says Sherrie Kinderdine, senior scientist with Oral-B Research and Development. “You could, in theory, collect [data] and turn this from a cleaning tool into an oral health diagnostic tool.” By analyzing this data, dentists could make links between oral health and certain diseases. At the very least, you won’t be able to convince anyone that you floss daily if your toothbrush can reveal the indisputable truth —Jessica Cruel, Allure
The Next-Level Sleep Aids
If you’re tossing and turning, you’re not alone. In a good year, 30 to 35 percent of Americans have insomnia (defined as difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking too early). Those numbers have likely skyrocketed during the pandemic, say researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Big changes to your quality of life, like rarely leaving home, can trigger short-term insomnia.
Sleep-tracking wearables (which are similar to, or built into, fitness trackers) promise a better night’s sleep. Out of all of them, I found the Fitbit Charge 4 wristband has the best hardware and software available. It records your time spent asleep and in different stages of sleep (using a heart rate sensor and a motion sensor called a three-axis accelerometer) and blood oxygen levels throughout the night (using an optical SpO2 sensor). Fitbit inputs these factors into a proprietary algorithm to calculate your “sleep score.” If you’re not getting enough sleep or adequate deep sleep, Fitbit suggests personalized recommendations, including wind-down times, avoiding exercise before bed, and sticking to a new bedtime and wake-up schedule.
Still burning the midnight oil? Apps like White Noise Lite and MyNoise turn your phone into a soothing sound machine, can be played through Bluetooth speakers, and offer a sound catalogue that gets very specific—”Cat Purring,” “Grandfather Clock,” and “Tibetan Singing Bowl” are some options on White Noise. Or you can choose pink or brown noise, which have sound waves on the lower end of the spectrum than white noise, and have been shown to be more relaxing.