Smartphones and tablets are still regarded as the latest craze in technology, but what we should really turn our attention to is the Internet of Things and the devices that are shaping the future for it. Those of you who are aware of what it means know that the Internet of Things is just around the corner and we’re excited to see it evolve with the help of these ingenious technical products. There are many definitions for the IoT, probably because it’s still a pioneering idea, but I’ll try my best to explain it as plain as possible.
The Internet of Things is an environment where objects, animals or people have unique identifiers that allow them to transfer data over a network on their own. The evolution of wireless technologies has made it possible for the IoT to see a rapid growth. Also, the IPv6 huge increase is another catalyst in the development of the Internet of Things.
20 Devices to show how the Internet of Things will be
Within eight years, it is expected that various organizations ranging from government to business will create a market of almost $9 trillion which will be constituted from 212 billion “things” making up the global Internet of Things in 2020. Another good definition for the IoT comes from Techtarget:
A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network. So far, the Internet of Things has been most closely associated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in manufacturing and power, oil and gas utilities. Products built with M2M communication capabilities are often referred to as being smart.
In our article, we won’t talk about the role of the Internet of Things in such big areas as manufacturing, oil and gas industries; but we’ll discuss about the Internet of Things devices that we come in contact with every day, such as a smart thermometer, a smart scale, pretty much everything that makes a smart home.
An ideal Internet of Things scenario would suggest something like this: as you wake up, a smart coffee maker will start brewing your coffee, when you want to watch a movie, a smart light system would turn down the lights. Before we start the list with some of the best Internet of Things devices, you might want to have one more look at this infographic to understand just how big and important the IoT really is.
Internet of Things Platforms and Networks
Those of you acquainted with the Internet of Things notion and devices have probably heard about Z-Wave. To put it very simple, Z-Wave is the wireless standard for IoT devices as most of them have Z-Wave chips inside. It’s the same case with ZigBee, which, albeit newer to this game, is betting on its low-power approach. The ZigBee and Z-Wave standards, if you will, are the backbones behind most of the devices present here, but are more used in platforms and networks.
A special attention I think needs to be given to the SmartThings start-up, which works like a platform for the growing number of devices that are connected to the Internet. It works like an online marketplace where users can buy starter kits to transform their homes into an unified IoT system. So, if you’re looking for some cool IoT devices, you should also have a look there, where you will find lots of Internet of Things devices, such as smart lights, switches, doors and locks. Developers will find the right tools while users will get smart apps for the devices they buy from SmartThings.
Revolv is another platform that brings more devices together under a single command center. Just like the above video says, you can control the lighting in your home (such as the Philips Hue light-bulb that we’ll talk lower about), your Apple TV, your heating and much more! The platform Revolv IoT service is first expected to ship for $299 before the end of this fall. You will get with your purchase the Revolv Hub, Revolv App, and for a limited time, also the free lifetime service plan that comes with GeoSense automation.
Another IoT device that was born thanks to Kickstarter, Securifi is somehow also an IoT platform, but also a standalone device, but we’ve decided to put it in this category. The Almond+ is their latest version of their touchscreen router, an Internet of Things device that can wirelessly connect a 5,000 square foot home, and is four times faster than your average wireless router. Also, thanks to its touchscreen, the Almond+ can be set up without having to use a PC or a smartphone. It also works with ZigBee and Z-Wave standards so Almond+ supports hundreds of existing sensors in the market.
Comcast’s range of Xfinity Home products is focused on providing users with a smart way to control their homes. Like a true service of its kind, Comcast doesn’t sell products on a pay-once basis, but it comes with monthly plans that vary according to your needs. The Secure and Control plan protects against fire and break-ins, while providing automation for lights, temperature, and more. The Home Control plan, which is also cheaper, will let you control lights, temperature, and more home features will be included to save money on your bills.
The WeMo family of IoT products from Belkin is composed of light and insight switches, motion sensor, baby monitor. Though not included in the WeMo range of products, Belkin also has two NetCams that will let you watch what happens inside your home. Compared to other similar home automation systems, Belkin’s products seem to have a lower price-point. Even more, WeMo also works with IFTTT, so you could do much more amazing stuff with Belkin’s IoT devices.
We did talk also about Ninja Blocks, as well, when we were sharing with you some of the best weather gadgets there are in the market. Using the Ninja Blocks IoT system, you can do so many things like watching over the temperature and humidity levels, turn on the lights when you’re not at home or even send an SMS when someone is at your front door. A smart mix between IFTTT functionality and the power of the Internet of Things. A wireless Window & Door sensor can let you know when your door is opened or images of someone who is moving in front of your door can be stored to your Dropbox account. How cool is that!
Internet of Things Devices
These IoT devices cover many fields, with a special attention, of course, to home automation and the functionality of your house. Thermostats, smoke detectors, smart music systems, smart light bulbs – we have it all here. But Internet of Things devices are also present in the interaction with the human body, whether we’re talking about fitness trackers, smart body scales or even baby monitors.
We’ve talked about Fitbit’s Aria smart scale before and we’ll do it again. Aria tracks your weight, body fat percentage, body mass index and lets you watch over these values on the long-term. It wirelessly syncs and auto-uploads your stats to an online graph that you can always access to check how you’re doing. Fitbit’s Aria smart scale recognizes up to eight people but it does so discreetly, as every information is kept private. To keep you motivated, you can earn badges as you go. Besides this, if you want, you can receive alerts on your smartphone when you’re nearing your goals.
Withings is a company well-known for making gadgets to look after your health and help you keep fit. The Smart Body Analyzer is a smart scale that can can do so much more than just letting you keep a eye on your weight. It comes with an impressive set of feature – full body knowledge, heart measurement, weight goals and long-term progress graph and indoor air quality monitoring. This amazing Internet of Things device can be yours for $150 from Amazon.
Nest is one of the companies that releases products with impressive but simple designs. It probably has to do with the fact that their company was was co-founded by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers back in 2010. They have only two products, but they seem to be very well-built and show us that this is a company that will definitely be present in the future with even more Internet of Things devices.
Thermostat - we’ve featured the Nest Thermostat in our top with the best there are in the market, so have a look at it if you’re interested in such devices. The Nest Learning Thermostat is called like that because it can learn your schedule so it could program itself to increase or reduce the heating levels, thus reducing your bills. Obviously, you can control it from your phone.
Protect smoke detector – the Nest Protect is the second product of the company; this is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It is smart because it doesn’t immediately turn on a loud alarm when it detects some CO2 from the toaster. The Protect will give an early warning through a yellow lights flashing and a warning spoke with human voice. It will tell where the smoke or carbon monoxide is or so you will decide yourself if it is an emergency or just a nuisance alarm. And if so, you’ll cancel the alarm just by standing under the Nest Protect and waving your arm.
Music definitely needs to be taken into consideration with the rise of IoT devices. With an appealing design, Sonos is a system of HiFi wireless speakers and audio components that combines all your music collection, radio or podcasts in a single app. You can choose to play what you want in different rooms by using a dedicated wireless network. Sono has got a wide collection of products for music fans, from speakers to sound-bars, so head over to their website to choose what you like.
Probably because it follows the same product principles as Apple’s product, Philips’ Hue smart bulb is available to buy from Apple Store, but also from Amazon. You can choose to buy a starter pack that includes hue bridge and three bulbs for $200 or single connected bulb for $60. A single bridge will let you control up to 50 bulbs and you will be able to create lighting scenes based on your favorite photos. Obviously, the lighting is controllable from your smart phone or tablet. They are said to help you use 80% less energy than traditional bulbs. If you’re interested in this IoT device, you could have a look at a similar smart light bulb, the LiFx.
Lockitron is not the single smart lock out there, but it’s our favorite and definitely one of the most innovative IoT devices. Another product that was made real thanks to the power of crowdfunding, Lockitron ensures keyless entry inside your home using only your phone. You can also monitor to see if the door is locked when you’re gone. And if not, it will send a notification when it is unlocked. The single drawback is that it works only with iPhone 4S or iPhone 5, but support for iPhone 5s and 5c should be coming soon, as well. Lockitron has an intelligent power management that makes its batteries last for up to one year.
LG wants to be one of the first companies to deploy the power of the Internet of Things in home appliances. That’s why it has launched the Smart Thinq line of products. It currently contains only four categories of products, but more will be added as the interest of consumes will increase over time. At the moment, you can find refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and ovens that are connected to the Internet to help you be in better control and save money.
I have always wondered – what is the quality of the air that I am breathing? Living in a city has always had me longing for the fresh air in the small village I was born in. The AirQuality Egg is a sensing device that measures the air quality in your environment and lets you share that information with an online community in real-time. The whole system is composed of outdoor sensors that have an RF transmitter which sends the air quality data wirelessly to an Egg-shaped base station inside. The Egg hub then sends the data to Xively which stores it and shares it with the community.
We think Smart baby monitors are some very useful IoT devices, especially for tech savvy parents, and that’s why we have compiled a while ago a list with some of the best to use. The Mimo baby monitor is another useful such device that lets you watch over your little one’s respiration and check the temperature in the room. Also, it can tell you if your baby is asleep or how active he is.