For years I’ve watched the news coming out of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to see what’s new and cool and what might eventually make its way into my world (I’ve never met a television that was too big). Given the growing focus on consumer health and wellness at the show, I decided to finally make my way there this past January to take in the expo hall and the two-day digital health conference. Here are a few trends I saw that will impact the healthcare design industry in the near and not-too-distant future.

Better health through interactive technology—Many of us already count daily steps, flights of stairs, calories burned, or overall activity through a wearable device. In the near future, we’ll be able to track even more through built-in sensors in everyday consumer products and apps focusing on understanding your state of health and encouraging new behaviors to improve it.

For example, the soon-to-be-released Withings ScanWatch is much closer to a medical device than any other smartwatch on the market thanks to its ability to scan for heart abnormalities or take an electrocardiogram at the touch of a button, with the results sent to your doctor. It also monitors oxygen levels while you sleep at night to look for signs of sleep apnea. Not long ago, this information was only available through expensive tests from your care provider, and only episodically. Now this data is available to you 24/7 for the cost of a $250 watch.

Other wearable devices, such as GoBe3, can automatically track calorie intake (based on the number of calories your body actually absorbs) and hydration level and can detect your stress level based on skin readings, similar to how a lie-detector test works. New earbuds from Valencell sense your blood pressure, serving as a way to fight hypertension, one of the world’s most widespread undiagnosed medical conditions.

Sleep, or the lack thereof, is big business—One of the most common topics discussed during the conference as well as on the expo floor was sleep—falling asleep, staying asleep, and tracking your sleep. According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults in the U.S. struggle with some form of a sleep disorder. In response, tech companies are creating solutions.

For example, the Climate360 smart bed from Sleep Number can adjust its temperature to help you sleep better. It warms your feet when you get into bed to help you fall asleep faster, cools as you get into a deep sleep, and then warms again slowly as you wake. Philips introduced its newest SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband, which tracks your REM and sleep patterns, plays soundscapes to help you fall asleep, and monitors the depth of your sleep to gently wake you when time.

Better sleep—and health—is also coming via high-tech clothing. For example, Japanese company Xenoma showed a new line of smart pajamas and loungewear that not only monitors sleep but can also detect when the wearer slips or falls. A bit more unusual, Myant, a Canadian-based company that manufactures technology-connected textiles (called textile computing), introduced smart underwear that can monitor a user’s temperature, activity, sleep quality, and stress level.

Robots and home health companions—Throughout the health pavilion, myriad products were geared toward home health and personalized, interactive experiences. Most of these products had a warm and friendly interface that, combined with artificial intelligence, humanized the experience using cam eras,microphones, and 3-D sensors to further personalize and customize the interactions.

Catalia Health, a patient engagement company, unveiled a personal companion called Mabu, an intelligent, socially interactive robot. Partnering with a pharmaceutical company to test the ability to do symptom management and track medication adherence trends, Mabu can customize its interactive conversation with each patient.

Pillo is a countertop home health companion that can keep track of and dispense a person’s medications over time but is highly customizable and capable of doing much more. For example, when it’s time for a person to take a dose of medication, Pillo proactively alerts users as a way to improve engagement and adherence to health regimes. It can also send information to third parties about compliance and be programed to encourage healthier behaviors.

Health and wellness products are part of a growing industry, but what’s interesting to see is that this industry has a common goal: to help reduce the cost of preventive care by making access more readily available to a broader base of people through technology, while also providing consumers with data that can help with early detection and better decision-making in support of overall health. Hopefully, in the end, these products will help to reduce the overall cost of care and future burden on our healthcare system.

Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design. She can be reached at