Smartphone technology has infiltrated the last refuge of peace and quiet — our beds.
Twin Cities furniture retailer Slumberland now sells the first Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled bed in the country. The Little Canada-based chain said the Reverie 7S lets users control the bed's adjustable base and other compatible electronics in the room with the touch of their smartphone or tablet.
The 7S comes with a built-in alarm clock, dozens of settings to elevate the head and foot of the bed, and massage functions that enhance comfort.
More uncommon are its wireless and Bluetooth functions that expand the bed's experience beyond just sleep. The bed, Slumberland said, is designed specifically to appeal to the growing number of young consumers who work at home from their beds.
"A lot of people go home and are sitting up in their bed with their laptop and they're doing work on there," Slumberland spokeswoman Carlynn Felipe said. "It becomes way more difficult when their bed is not Wi-Fi-ready."
Here's how it works: Users simply plop down on the mattress, fire up their smartphone or tablet, and then open the app (called Reverie Remote) to select any of the bed's various positions and settings. The bed's owners are also simultaneously connected to Wi-Fi as they are using the bed, enabling them to surf the Internet or check e-mail. Other electronics in the room, like lights, TVs or stereos, can also be controlled via the app, which can be downloaded free from iTunes or Google.
The technology is just the latest in the arms race for mattress and bed innovation. Ninety-two percent of Americans use electronics in bed, including smartphones, computers and televisions, according to an April 2013 survey by the Better Sleep Council. Young people are especially attached to their screens; 38 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds use a smartphone or tablet in bed every night.
Manufacturers are working to catch up with those trends by developing adjustable beds to be as comfortable as possible for people sitting up in bed with a computer or tablet.
In recent years, mattresses have become more high-tech and functional, with companies like Plymouth-based Select Comfort Corp. offering products like the Sleep Number bed that allows consumers to customize the firmness of their mattresses. And at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, mattress and bed companies have recently begun to show off their products alongside the typical gadgetry. For the past two years, Serta has displayed its iComfort Sleep System. And at the 2008 conference, Leggett & Platt featured its Starry Night bed, which includes a surround-sound system, Internet connectivity, an iPod docking station, and anti-snoring technology. The bed debuted at $20,000 to $50,000.
Slumberland officials said the Reverie 7S, at about $1,700 for a queen-sized bed, is designed to be much more affordable to consumers, but Mark Vlasak, a store manager at Slumberland in Maplewood, said a big hurdle is the price.
Customers "think it's fun," he said. "It's different. [But] the price on the bed, they have to justify."
Vlasak also said older consumers are sometimes turned off by all the high-tech bells and whistles the bed has.
Reverie marketing director Lisa Tan said that a decade ago, adjustable beds were only bought as a medical product. Today, half of Slumberland's adjustable-bed customers are less than 50 years old.
The next step is to make beds themselves a tool for Internet connectivity.
"We are slowly but surely seeing different types of technology being incorporated into beds," said Karin Mahoney, director of communications for the International Sleep Products Association.
During a six-week trial period at a handful of Slumberland stores, including the one in Maplewood, 19 of the beds sold.
Reverie, with headquarters in Michigan and New York, hopes to continue to make its products more technology-friendly. The 7S has a control box on the bottom of the bed, which can be upgraded as new features are developed.
The market for adjustable beds and mattresses has grown in the past decade, but fell flat as the housing market suffered and disposable income declined. According to market research from IBISWorld, the industry will grow in the next few years as residential construction increases and consumers buy more household goods.
The report stated that the adjustable-bed industry, dominated by Select Comfort and Leggett & Platt, will attract new customers as technological innovations continue.
Internet-connected beds might be the wave of the future, but there's a caveat — they aren't particularly good for you.
"Unfortunately, you shouldn't have technology or anything like that in the bedroom because it really disrupts sleep," Mahoney said.
Backlighting on electronics is stimulating and prevents restful sleep. Furthermore, people associate their cellphones and computers with stress, which creates problems when they're using them in the same place they sleep, according to the Better Sleep Council.
For now, if people insist on using computers from bed, at least they'll be comfortable while they do it.
"If you have to work, you can [now] do it in the most ergonomically effective way from bed," Tan said.