More and more everyday objects are turning into smart devices. As technology continues to improve, it seems like there’s nothing that it can’t make faster, smarter, better, or easier. Now, even the most basic of everyday items are turning into smart devices through wireless connections to your phone, the internet, and other smart objects in your home.
Commonly called the Internet of Things (or IoT), connected objects are for much more than just tracking your fitness. Technology has made its way into pretty much anything you can imagine, and then some.
While some IoT devices are objectively silly, most help us to improve our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. And their improved functionality can help make every facet of our daily lives even better.
New devices are hitting the market on an almost daily basis, and it can be more than a little overwhelming to try and keep up! We’ve collected 10 great gadgets you should try this year that give a great idea of where the Internet of Things is heading.
1. Amazon Dash Wand ($20)
It’s not a magic wand, but it’s close — especially if you’re a big fan of Amazon’s Prime service. The internet retailer’s Alexa voice-controllable assistant has taken the IoT world by storm. If you’re wanting to get a small taste of what the service can offer, take a look at the Amazon Dash Wand.
This wireless device uses two AA batteries, is water resistant, and is magnetic for easy access. When you run out of any item, just scan the barcode (or tell Alexa) and it will automatically land in your Amazon shopping cart. You can also press the button on the wand to access Alexa’s growing list of skills.
And the best part of the $20 device? After you register it with Amazon, you’ll receive a $20 credit towards the purchase of applicable items, making the Dash Wand basically free.
2. Zeeq Smart Pillow ($299)
Even going to sleep is now smarter thanks to IoT technology. The Zeeq Smart Pillow is a memory foam pillow with moisture-wicking fabric that sports a surprisingly robust number of different features. Most notably, sleepers should be happy to hear that the pillow will automatically detect snoring and then gently vibrate to change your sleep position without waking you up. The pillow will also track sleep motion and snoring decibels to provide a daily report on sleep quality through a smartphone app.
Before going to sleep, the pillow can wirelessly play music and other audio tracks without disturbing your partner. And you can even set a smart alarm that will wake you up within a certain time range to ensure optimal sleep cycles.
Is a perfect cup of coffee necessary to start your day on the right foot? Then the Behmor Connected Temperature Control Coffee Maker is probably right up your alley!
Your inner coffee connoisseur, or snob, can use the companion iOS or Android app to connect to the machine via Wi-Fi. Users can basically adjust any parameter imaginable using the app, including precise temperature controls, pre-soaking the coffee grounds, creating pulsed water flow, and even a delayed brewing cycle that will warm the water but waits for freshly ground beans before brewing. The smartphone will even provide a notification when the brewing is complete.
The coffee maker itself can brew up to eight 5-oz cups in its double-walled thermal carafe and is the perfect addition to any kitchen.
4. Moen U Smart Shower ($345)
After that cup of coffee, you can step directly into the shower of your dreams. The Moen U Smart Shower controller is designed for use inside the shower and provides a plethora of customization options that make a cold shower a thing of the distant past.
Using the iOS or Android app, or the on-controller buttons and LCD screen, you can warm the shower up to your preferred temperature. With the app, it’s possible to create up to 12 different personalized presets for the shower including name, greeting, shower timer, notifications, and more from anywhere in a home. Along with the controller, you’ll also need a special digital shower valve for complete installation in a bathroom.
5. Sensoria Fitness T-Shirt ($149/£76)
There’s no need to worry about using an external heart rate strap, Apple Watch, or other device when wearing the Sensoria Fitness T-shirt. Made with special fabric that is designed to help maintain body temperature no matter the client, the shirt connects to an iOS app a during a run.
Through Mara, a virtual assistant, you’ll hear feedback when your heart rate zone isn’t in your customized range or when you need to speed up. She will also monitor your calories burned, pace, speed, and distance. You can also listen to music using the app as well.
The shirt is also compatible with many third-party fitness applications while the replaceable battery provides up to eight months of use.
6. Delta Five Bed Bug Monitoring System ($95)
Bed bugs can make anyone’s skin crawl. The tiny creatures that feed on human blood are a huge. rapidly growing concern and can cause numerous health problems like allergies, rashes, and much worse. Often thought of as an issue only occuring in less than pristine habitats, in actuality bed bugs can live almost anywhere.
Because the parasitic insects are small and like to hide in out of the way places like inside a bed, it’s not easy to uncover an infestation. The Delta Five Bed Bug Monitoring System is a connected alarm system that watches out for the creatures. Previously only available for hotels, homeowners can now use the system.
The small Wi-Fi enabled device can be mounted on a headboard near the box spring of any bed. Using non-toxic lures, it is designed to trap bed bugs and other insects like ants, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlers. Once an insect is trapped, the unit will automatically send a text message or email with an image of the bug. It’s up to you to call the exterminator or grab the can of Raid.
7. Netatmo Presence Camera ($242/£250)
Home surveillance cameras are a great way to increase security and protect your belongings and family. There are several models on the market that can automatically detect motion and send a notification to a smartphone, but the Netatmo Presence Camera takes monitoring one step further.
Built for the outdoors and weatherproof, the camera takes the place of an existing light fixture. Users can control the light manually through an iOS or Android app or can set it up to turn on automatically with any motion event. But unlike other cameras, the Presence uses special recognition technology and automatically determines whether the motion is a human, animal, or car. You can customize notifications for all three categories. For example, you could choose to only be told when a car has arrived in your driveway, not when a dog or child is playing.
8. BlueSmart One ($312/£279)
If you had to name the most annoying travel problems possible, lost luggage would probably be at the top of the list. The BlueSmart One carry-on luggage wants to solve this problem (amongst others!) by being a top-notch wireless travel companion.
Most importantly, the device’s SIM allows you to locate the luggage anywhere in the world using GPS and 3G cellular technology for free. Even if your airline doesn’t know where the bag is, you will — and that’s only the beginning.
The TSA-compliant 10,000 mAH battery can charge two USB devices at once. And to help avoid those additional baggage fees, a built-in scale will tell you exactly how much the bag and its contents weigh. Just pick it up by the handle for 15 seconds and then view the weight on the iOS or Android app. Finally, a special remote digital lock will allow travelers to lock and unlock their bag from the app. It can even be set to automatically lock if your phone is ever out of Bluetooth range with the luggage.
9. Bragi Dash Pro ($329)
Completely wireless headphones are all the rage thanks in part to the popularity of Apple’s AirPods. But there are a number of alternatives on the market that can do more than just play music. The small Bragi Dash Pro earbuds sport 4 GB of storage, good enough to store up to 1,000 songs. No smartphone or other device is necessary. The waterproof earbuds can automatically determine whether you’re working out and will keep track of important information like heart rate, step count, speed, and more.
But the most Star Trek-like feature is the integration with the popular iTranslate iOS app. For more than 40 different languages, the earbuds can help translate foreign languages in real-time. Anything you say is processed through your smartphone into the target language and the reply can be heard in your native language through the Dash Pro. It can also work between two users with the earbuds. Take that Lt. Uhura.
10. Sphero Spider-Man ($150/£150)
Kids don’t have to wait until adulthood to jump on the IoT train. Think of this Spider-Man from Sphero as an extremely snarky Amazon Alexa… and a lot more.
You can ask the superhero any question, but he will answer with some trademark wit.
Over time, he will listen and adapt to your unique personality. Using a companion iOS or Android app, fans can team up with Spidey and go on fun missions against some of his most famous villains. Each choice will create a new path forward, so each adventure is unique.
LCD eyes that animate with each answer help give the toy personality, while motion detection can guard against a snooping sibling or even act as an alarm clock to wake you up.
Using a built-in Wi-Fi connection, Spider-Man will be able to receive updated and new missions, villains, and other content. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
The wonderful world of the Internet of Things is continuing to grow and reach almost any area you can imagine.
Just a decade ago, technology like this could hardly be imagined. But now connected toys, headphones, luggage, and more are readily available and easy to use. Can you imagine what IoT devices will be available in 10 years?
Have you tried any of these cool devices? Let us know in the comments.