Balluga Smart Bed hands-on: wafting you to sleep on a cushion of air cells

We try out the bed that syncs up with your connected home

Smart home technology is spreading throughout every room in the house.

We've seen smart locks, smart thermostats and smart lightbulbs – and they're set to be joined by the smart bed.

The Balluga Smart Bed is the brainchild of London designer Joe Katan, who has spent eight years working on its innovative mattress design; it's made up of hundreds of small air balloons in a foam matrix, which can be inflated or deflated to alter its firmness.

The Balluga adjusts its air cells on the fly, to ensure that your weight is evenly supported. You can also tweak settings including temperature, matress firmness and a vibro-massage function using a remote or smartphone app; the bed can connect to the internet over Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

As well as wafting you to sleep on a cloud of air, the Balluga is also a media centre; it can be kitted out with speakers and even an overhead screen that syncs up with your tablet, letting you lie back and watch a movie or read a book. The bed can also track when you go to sleep, so you don't lose your place. Optional lights under the bed can be set to sync up with your music, easing you into the land of Nod. Or you could just use them to create your very own disco.

More after the break...

Time for a lie down

Stuff got hands-on (back-on?) with the Balluga at Gadget Show Live 2014, and can confirm that it's very comfortable; it feels like a solid mattress, not an air bed. The minor adjustments feel a little odd at first, though you quickly get used to them, while the massage function sends rippling vibrations up and down your body; you can also set it to focus on specific areas, if the mood takes you.

Our model was a pre-production version without any of the multimedia bells and whistles above – which frankly sound a bit over the top, to us.

Inventor Joe Katan's ideas for how the bed might fit into a connected home setup are more interesting. The Balluga, he says, will sync up with your smoke detector and wake you up in the event of a fire; it'll also play nice with smart locks and do the same in the event of an intruder breaking in. Its sleep tracking technology will also enable it to respond to restless sleep in real-time, rather than simply telling you that you've had a bad night's sleep, as fitness bands do. And when you travel, you'll be able to take your bed settings to any hotel kitted out with Balluga beds, and enjoy a good night's sleep as though you were in your own bed.

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The Balluga isn't cheap – prices will start from £1000 (S$2,080) for the bare-bones single bed version when pre-orders launch in November 2014.

However, Katan's looking into smartphone-style price plans for the bed, with users paying around £200 (S$416) upfront and a monthly contract thereafter, covering repairs, upgrades and cleaning.

READ MORE: Make your house a smart home of the future

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