Blankets have been used for ages to prevent humans from cold. With temperature controlled environments, especially in the western world, blankets are sometimes just a formality because having something to pull over acts as a sleeping placebo. In the last several millennia, humans have gone from using animal skins to wool to cotton to synthetic materials for making blankets.
What’s next ? How will the new wave of technology affect this daily commodity of ours?
Below I have shared my thoughts on how the blankets of future, those that will be developed after 10 years, could look like. Some might look works of fiction but so did self-driving vehicles, reusable rockets and 1000 songs in the pocket 10 years before their time.
1. Topical Temperature Control
I have woken up several instances because either I was feeling cold in the blanket or I was feeling excessively warm in it. It’s ridiculous to wake up in the middle of the night trying to either turn up the heat on the thermostat or open the window for the room to cool a bit. What if our blankets could control the temperature per our body’s needs?
The most important innovation that will happen in blankets will be integration of conducting material in the blankets. The early signs of conducting material infused fabric is already here (Jacquard jacket by Google).
The next-gen blankets will be infused with nanotechnology-based sensors & heat generators. These sensors would monitor the temperature of each section of our bodies and thus ensure that your feet, which is much colder that rest of your body, gets more heat fast.
2. Regulating Blood Flow and Quality of sleep
The next-generation blankets could well be prescription based. If you have snoring habit, your “GoodBye Snoring Blanket” would track your breathing patterns and provide minute to minute data from your 8-hour sleep to your doctor. If you have sleeping difficulties, the “EasySleep Blanket” would give your awakening patterns to your app so that you can track what needs to change. Finally, your “SleePosition Blanket” will track your (improper) sleeping postures and work with your Smart Bed to produce gentle vibrations that would regulate blood flow in the body parts.
3. Ultra Thin Blankets
If you are like my Dad who likes to carry his own blanket everywhere, you know that carrying them in a suitcase is a pain, given the amount of space they take. The sensor enable smart blankets would be a boon for travelers since they would be thin. The same thin layer of blanket sheet will have customization options. For instance, someone living in extreme cold can opt for heavy duty heat radiating sensors while those in tropical climate can opt for sensors with cooling effects.
4. Motion Detection
When my nephew was 2 years old, my sister had to constantly peek into his bedroom to see if he has awake. The Smart blanket will be another IoT device with sensors. With ML, the pattern of blanket usage can predict when someone has woken up. So, smarter way to know that your kid (or anyone else) is up.
5. Sharing Blanket with your partner will be easy
The next generation blanket will help you to track several data points. Did you sleep in a particular bad posture again? Do you have a blanket thief sleeping besides you? Worry no more. It will track all these and share a report with you. So, now your partner would not be able to lie :)
This is how the blankets of future would look like. Please share your thoughts in comments.