It’s predicted that by 2020, there will be 30 billion devices connected to the internet, with 250 new devices added per second. That works out to be almost four internet connected devices per person. While some people do have multiple phones, the enormous growth isn’t fueled by smartphones. Instead, it’s being driven by a range of gadgets known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
It was once the case that only the (now-laughably) large home computers could connect to the internet via dial-up. These days, even miniature devices strapped to your wrist can access the world wide web. Thanks to Moore’s Law, cutting-edge technology is now affordable and widespread, allowing you to get the most from your IoT gadgets. With so much choice, what should you be looking out for in 2018?
1. Handlebars to Guide You Home
Cyclists are often left out in the cold by technological developments. The more gadgets you have attached to your bike, the more distracted you are from what you love most. The Wink handlebar from startup Velco aims to overcome that challenge. The tech is integrated into the handlebar with no screens in sight. Instead, it pairs to your smartphone via Bluetooth to offer a novel take on turn-by-turn navigation.
Their WinkNav system uses the on-board GPS to illuminate one of two lights on the handlebar to indicate your direction of travel. The built-in GPS is also put to good use as an anti-theft measure, which works anywhere in the world (alongside a subscription to the service). The Wink comes in two varieties — Flat and Urban — and even integrates 224 lumen LED headlights.
2. A Smart Plug for Restful Sleep
We all know that sleep is important, but many of us wake up feeling less than refreshed. That’s what makes the allure of sleep-aiding gadgets so strong. The Nightingale Smart Home Sleep System by Cambridge Sound Management offers a unique take on the smart sleep gadget. The device plugs into your socket and emits white noise tailored to your room, drowning out other noises.
The device was even tested at Harvard Medical School and found to help people fall to sleep up to 38 percent faster. There is a built-in multi-colored LED light that can be customized through the companion app. Nightgale is even fully integrated with all major smart home assistants you can turn the device on from the comfort of your bed.
3. Air Pollution Monitors
Many IoT devices are sold on the basis that they will help us improve our health. From fitness trackers to air quality monitors, these devices have been a staple of IoT for many years. Keeping one eye on the air quality in your home is useful, but what about when you are at out and about? Flow by Plume Labs provides a solution. Their portable air quality monitor enables you to keep track of the air that you breathe — no matter where you are.
Flow is able to analyze air samples for four pollutants: PM2.5, PM10, N02, and volatile organic compounds. The device connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and uploads your air quality data to the app. The monitor also lets you become a citizen scientist too, aggregating the data to create a real-time map of air quality around the world.
4. Smart Lighting for Your Garden
Adjustable, customizable lighting has been one of the cornerstones of all smart home tech since Philips launched Hue, their range of smart bulbs. But one area of your home as been left out of the customizable lighting revolution: your garden.
Unlike their indoor equivalent, they require no additional power. Instead, they recharge their 1000mAh internal battery with solar power with each bulb lasting up to 20 hours. The bulbs also turn on and off based on light conditions, so their resources are never drained unnecessarily. As they only need light to recharge and a Bluetooth connection, the bulbs are portable too.
5. Home Speakers That’ll Take Orders
With the rise of music streaming platforms like Spotify, we’ve increasingly turned to our smartphones for our audio fix. If you want to go a little louder, the best option is usually a Bluetooth speaker.
However, it isn’t the only way. The Sonos PLAY smart speakers have long been some of the best on the market. Using the app you connect each of your streaming services to the speaker, and can create multi-room audio setups. Even back in 2015, the Sonos PLAY:1 — their entry level speaker — was one of the best options around.
As a forward thinking company, Sonos make sure their speakers integrate with all the major smart home hubs. Then, late in 2017, they took this ambition one step further. The All-New Sonos One now comes with Amazon’s Alexa built directly into the speaker. This turns the already excellent speaker into your new smart home hub — no Echo required.
6. The Wearable Posture Coach
It’s estimated that more than 31 million Americans experience lower-back pain at any one time. The cause of the pain isn’t your fault — our modern lifestyles are the culprit. While there are plenty of ways to improve your posture, the idiom “there’s a smart device for that!” has never been truer. Enter Lumo Lift, the first wearable posture coach.
The Lumo Lift sensor sits inside your shirt, just below your collarbone. Once you’re in your perfect posture, press down on the device to set the target. As you move throughout the day, the device’s accelerometer analyzes your position, and the Lumo Lift will vibrate if your posture is out of line. The device also doubles as a step tracker, with all the recorded data synced via Bluetooth to the companion app.
7. Robotic Gardeners
Any mention of the smart home often conjures up scenes from The Jetsons where household appliances do the chores for you. The robotic vacuums we have roaming the house bring this vision of the future one step closer. Now, gardening firm Husqvarna wants to take this robotic transformation outdoors with their range of robotic lawn mowers.
The Automower borrows many of the features of the robotic vacuums, from app-based programming, to self-docking for recharging. The cuttings are only a few millimetres long and fall to the ground, acting as a natural soil fertilizer. If the thought of a robot with rapidly rotating blades makes you nervous, the Automower’s safety features should put you at ease. If the mower’s operation is in any way interrupted, the device powers off.
8. Meditation Peripherals
Where meditation was once considered the preserve of the spiritual, it has been rebranded as a modern wonder-drug. The benefits of mediation are desirable; sleep improvement, stress reduction, improved happiness, and a longer, healthier life. While many choose an app-based approach to meditation, the brain-sensing firm InteraXon has another idea.
Muse is the company’s Bluetooth-enabled mediation headband. Simply slip the band over your head, open the app, and begin your mediation. As you meditate the band analyzes your brain waves. If it senses you are calm, then you will hear calming sounds. If your brain is awash with activity, then you’ll be cast into a stormy audioscape to remind you to let go of your thoughts.
9. The Smart Golf Coach
One of the largest markets for wearable technology is fitness trackers. We’re addicted to the data which helps us maintain progress and keep improving. While most fitness trackers are aimed at runners, the Game Golf Live Tracking System wants to analyze your golf game. The tracker pairs to your smartphone or smartwatch to give you real-time insights for your game.
Once you’ve attached the tags to your clubs, and selected your course on the companion app, then all you need to do is take your shot. The tracker then records information on your swing, the shot itself, and fairway accuracy. Afterwards take a seat at the club house, and you can analyze your entire game right from the app. There is no need to worry about suspicious looks on the green either, as the Game Golf is fully approved under the Rules of Golf.
10. The One Armband to Rule Them All
Over the past few years Virtual Reality has been transformed from science fiction to, well, reality. You can roam through virtual worlds, controlling everything with the movement of your hands alone. The Myo Gesture Control Armband brings that experience to the physical world. If you’ve always had a hankering to ditch your computer’s keyboard and mouse then Myo might be for you.
Presenting is stressful enough, without having to constantly worry about which button to click next. Myo integrates with most presentation software to allow you to control your slides with just a few gestures. The armband also integrates with a number of drones for screen-free control. The Myo Market lets developers submit their own apps for the platform, with over 100 currently available across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Which Internet of Things Devices Will You Try?
It feels as though the internet has been around forever, but you only have to look back two decades to see how different things really are. IoT devices have the potential to usher in a new era of computing, where our smart gadgets help us finally decouple from our screens. That’s so long as manufacturers tackle the sector’s glaring security flaws.
The sector has seen such rapid development it seems hard to believe that it was only in 2016 that Bluetooth IoT devices were hot property. 2017 followed, whizzing by in a whirlwind of AI assistants and smart home devices. If the past few years are any indication, 2018 is set to be another bumper year for the Internet of Things.
How many on this list have you tried? What are you excited by? Or do you think the Internet of Things isn’t really all that great? Let us know in the comments!