NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Over in Tennessee, Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley talks to a basketball -- and it talks back through an iPhone. A baby onesie being developed in Boston alerts parents when a sleeping baby rolls on his belly. There's even a fork that will tell you that you're eating way too fast.
Thanks to a new generation of wireless, power-efficient technology, developers are adding smartness into ordinary objects so they can communicate with a smartphone. Going beyond the familiar headsets and hands-free car speakers, this next-generation Bluetooth powers a rather remarkable set of unremarkable items from food scales and grilled steaks to door locks and key finders.
The key improvement is the low-energy feature of Bluetooth Smart, which is the consumer friendly name of Bluetooth 4.0. The technology uses much less energy than prior versions. Errett Kroeter, director of global industry and brand marketing for the Bluetooth SIG organization, likens the difference to a device lasting one month on AA batteries versus lasting a year with a smaller Bluetooth Smart battery.
"The impact to power usage isn't so much on the phone. The phone is always on and listening to things. The real impact is on the peripheral device, like the Bluetooth forks, (health-tracking bracelets like) Fitbit and garage door openers. That's where the real power savings comes," Kroeter said.Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone 4s was the first to get Bluetooth Smart inside, so much of the market is iPhone-app centric. But Google (GOOG) began supporting the technology over the summer and a larger smattering of smartphones now include Bluetooth Smart. To find a list of phones with Bluetooth Smart, see the previous story, "Don't Buy a New Smartphone Unless It's Really (Bluetooth) Smart." You may have heard of the more common and publicized Bluetooth Smart appcessories, including door locks like Kwikset's new Kevo and Lockitron or key finders like Hone and StickNFind. But you may not be familiar with other products that are also getting smarter. Here are 10 in development or available: