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Five great health-boosting gadgets | Financial Times

The lung game

A clear jar filled with a miniature forest of lush lichen is gently whirring on the table next to me, exhaling Arctic-clean air and an air of calm. My little green companion – basically a terrarium with oomph – is purportedly the world’s “most sustainable” air filter. An elegant new creation from a pair of Leeds-based engineers who applied air-filtration technologies formerly used by NASA in spaceships, its star ingredient is reindeer moss, a spongy lichen (an algae-fungus hybrid) that’s great at hoovering up pollutants. It also contains coconut-husk fibres (another decent natural filter often used in the car industry), activated carbon (for capturing fine dust) and a bioplastic casing. Plus a fan to keep things moving.

No bigger than a kettle, Briiv creates a little oasis of air free of toxic gases, mould, bacteria, pollen and other nasties: tests show that it effectively improves the air quality in a 36sq m room in just an hour. It’s operated manually or via an app, which enables you to put it on a schedule and control its intensity. Given that London mayor Sadiq Khan recently issued a “high pollution warning” for the first time in 18 months – and global pollution levels are picking up again after a general dip during pandemic lockdowns – it seems a timely fix to clean up a small space. Apparently it has the same air-scrubbing impact as 3,043 houseplants. I’ll let you decide what makes more sense for your home.

Briiv air filter, £299

Briiv’s green-ness separates it from the plastic-heavy HEPA air filters flooding the market: 96 per cent of the device is biodegradable or recyclable. (The moss will decompose in a few months and the coconut husks in up to a year; you can order replacement parts.) Frankly, it’s also just a lovely thing to look at. Irrespective of the good it’s actually doing to my lungs, merely glancing at it makes me feel healthier, as though there’s a life-affirming chunk of boreal forest in my east London flat. Briiv air filter, £299, briiv.co.uk

Beat the blue light

Bollé Safety ProBlu glasses, from £72
Bollé Safety ProBlu glasses, from £72 © Bollé Safety

Given that the glow emitted by smartphones, TVs and computer screens has been linked to everything from dry eyes to restless sleep, blue- light-blocking glasses seem sensible. Though the science is not crystal clear, fans say they stop you getting headaches and tired eyes after a day spent typing. And there’s evidence suggesting that, if you wear them in the evening, they help you sleep better. To that end French goggle maker Bollé Safety has launched a line of specs that, thanks to polycarbonate lenses and an anti-reflective lens coating, block 100 per cent of harmful blue light up to wavelengths of 420nm and 82 per cent beyond that (harmful ranges from 380nm to 445nm). They’re well built and good looking. Bollé Safety ProBlu glasses, from £72, bolle-safety.com

Heart of the matter

AliveCor KardiaMobile, from £99
AliveCor KardiaMobile, from £99

AliveCor’s pocket-sized ECG devices provide individuals with medical-grade readings of heart rates and rhythms. Models include the KardiaMobile, a rectangle with two silver pads; and (currently US only) the new KardiaMobile Card, an Amex-like sliver. Users press their fingers to the devices; the results are displayed on the app that (with a KardiaCare subscription) applies an AI-generated algorithm to alert you to the possibility of six types of arrhythmia. The gadgets have been approved by the FDA and, this year, the UK’s NICE recommended the KardiaMobile for use within the NHS. AliveCor KardiaMobile, from £99 (plus £99 KardiaCare); KardiaMobile Card, $149 (including KardiaCare)

Workout by the Heuer

TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 watch, from £1,550
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 watch, from £1,550

While less fearsome than my usual bootcamp instructor, a smartwatch is guiding me through my core workout. My abs are burning and – as an on-screen tracker shows – my heart is racing. With its new Connected Calibre E4, TAG Heuer is wooing those who might otherwise turn to an Apple Watch. As well as providing tracking for running, cycling, golfing and swimming, a new feature offers seven-minute workouts. The watch has a premium yet sporty feel, with a gorgeous stainless-steel case, a choice of animated faces and various straps. It should last a full day between charges and there’s a new battery replacement service should your watch start to wobble in a few years’ time. TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 watch, from £1,550, tagheuer.com

Stand and deliver

BBalance Matscale, ¢349
BBalance Matscale, ¢349

Is anything more joyless than stepping onto a bathroom scale? French company BBalance is offering an alternative to slabs of glass that reduce our health solely to kilos and pounds. It has devised a smart bath mat that houses more than 4,000 sensors and electrodes beneath its soft cotton coat. Based on your footprint – and in sync with an app – it determines body fat percentage and muscle mass and makes rulings on posture, balance and ideal shoe size. Flat-footed or high arches? It’ll tell you that too. It recommends exercises to address concerns, such as one-legged movements to improve balance or straighten your stance. Available to preorder now, it ships this summer. BBalance Matscale, $349, bbalance.io