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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The 21 Coolest ‘Internet of Things’ Gadgets You Will Want Today 07-25

I love gadgets and I am fascinated by connecting devices through the Internet of Things. I always keep a close eye on the latest developments and felt it was time to take stock and give you my list of the 21 coolest Internet of Things gadgets. Some are available already, some are coming soon, and a few are just prototypes that will probably turn into something real in the next few years. Mother
Don’t let this one’s cute looks fool you – it is actually a cunning spy, ready to report on every detail of your family’s movements and daily activities. Small sensors known as motion cookies can be given to every family member so everyone knows where everyone else is, at any given time (as long as they have access to the app). Alerts can be set to tell you when the kids are home from school, and every member of the family can feel secure (and maybe a little bit creeped out) that wherever they go, Big Mother is watching!

Google Glass
These just have to be on any list. The connected glasses from Google that give you computing power and hands free information right in font of your eyes. For example, it allows wearers to communicate with the Internet using natural language voice commands, a touch pad and the in-build camera. information is returned via voice to your ear piece or via the display in the glasses. You can also take HD videos or photos, and soon new apps will allow you use Google Glass for many crazy things including recognize faces, track your exercise, translate text, see reminders, go on Facebook and Twitter, etc. Definitely a glimpse of what's to come...

Delphi Connect vehicle diagnostics
A smart vehicle diagnostics tool which plugs into any car with a OBD 2 port and sends alerts and updates on its condition to the mobile app, as well as including a few other neat features. These includes remotely locking and unlocking its doors, starting the engine and even setting up “geofences” – which send alerts if the car is driven across boundaries set by the owner. Useful for parents and company fleet operators.

Withings WiFi Scales
Imagine having scales that recognize you as soon as you step onto them. As well as measuring weight and BMI, these wifi-equipped scales synch the data to the Health Mate app which allows you to set targets for weight loss or gain, and monitor your progress. If you already use a fitness app such as RunKeeper, Loose It, or one of a hundred others, it’s compatible with that too. I have been using these scales now for a while and love them – they even measure the air quality in your bedroom!

Trakdot aims to offer travellers peace of mind, by letting them track the location of their luggage. Patented technology switches off transmitters and receivers while they are in the cargo hold and reactivates them when they are unloaded, automatically contacting the owner through local cell networks to report their location. Of course it won’t stop your luggage getting lost, but it will certainly make it easier to find and recover.

Moto 360 smart watch
Flagship device heralding the arrival of Google Wear – it will be the first of an expected flood of smart watches equipped with the Android-based operating system which it hopes will become as standard on “wearables” as the original is on phones. Expect fierce competition when Apples expected iWatch eventually emerges.

Sony Smart Tennis Sensor
Sharpen up your tennis skills with these sensors that attach to compatible rackets and serves up data on your serves and swings, to help you tweak your game. Similar devices are available or in development for every sport from soccer to golf, giving anyone the access to training aids that would only have been available to elite professionals a few short years ago. This one is currently only available in Japan.

Jawbone Up band
I love my Up wristband. It is one of a new generation of devices designed to track and record data about our lifestyle, to help us make informed decisions on improving how we eat, sleep and move.
The data is synched to an Android device or iPhone where it is presented as visualisations which can be analysed by the user to provide useful insights. It gives you a smart alarm function that wakes you up when it is best (during a light sleep phase) and even calculates the ideal time for a powernap (by analysing the sleep you had the night before).

Fitbit Zip
Similar to the Up, the fit tracks the number of steps you take, the distance you travel and the calories that you burn, and synchs the data wirelessly to your mobile phone or tablet. Unlike the UP, it doesn’t monitor your sleep or eating habits, so it’s a little bit less expensive.

SkyBell Wifi Doorbell
Skybell is a video doorbell that lets you see and talk to whoever comes calling, regardless of whether you are home or not.
Motion sensors can send alerts and pictures from the onboard camera to your phone even if visitors don’t interact with the device – useful for knowing whether or not parcels have been delivered.

Microsoft Septimu earbuds with Musical Heart
This one’s a work in progress and you can’t buy it yet, but Microsoft say they have developed technology which will allow sensors in ear buds to work out what mood you’re in based on your heart rate, body temperature and biorhythms. It may eventually be used for monitoring health, but the first application that has been announced is software that will match music to the mood you’re in.

LIFX Smart Light Bulb
Ever wanted to turn the light down but not get up from the sofa? Now you can, with this energy efficient and wifi enabled smart light bulb from. You can use your smart phone up to remotely control you light and even change colours and mood in the room. You can even control your lights when you are away on vacation.

Ice cubes that stop you getting too drunk
This one is a bit more “out there” – MIT researcher Dhairya Dand has created ice cubes that not only pulse colourfully in time to music, they record (using a built in timer and accelerometer) how much and how quickly you are drinking. If the cubes (actually electronics enclosed in a waterproof, edible jelly) pulse red, it might be time to slow down! They go one step further, however, and can be programmed to alert a friend when they decide you’ve had too much and need someone to help you get home safely.

Thumb-sized electronic tags which you can attach to any of your possessions, and then locate them through your phone’s GPS. From car keys to toddlers – stick them on anything you want to keep track of, and follow on-screen prompts to find them. Or “page” them to set off an audible alarm.

Smart Diapers
Diapers with sensors that send an alert to your smartphone or a compatible wristband when they become wet. This is still seeking funding according to their website, but the project has received some media interest and it’s a great idea for hospitals and care homes as well as parents. Soon, smart diapers are expected to not only alert you that your baby needs changin but provide a full analysis of urine to check sodium and hydration levels in the baby as well as signs of infections.

Base smart notifications
Ok this one is software rather than a “thing”, but has potential for use in lots of Internet of Things applications. Basically it’s a way for developers to understand more about the people who are using their gadgets and apps, and communicate more efficiently with them. The code analyzes the user base and determines the best time to send them notifications. Currently in beta phase, software like this will hopefully make the Internet of Things easier for humans to interact with by eliminating background noise of irrelevant or untimely alerts.

Kensington Proximo
Similar to the Bikn, but specifically to stop you losing your phone. The electronic tag send a signal to the receiver on your key fob (or anywhere) when you move a certain distance away, and a button on the fob activates a beeper on the tag, so you can trace your handset quickly. For those times when you can’t find it by calling it, because you know you’ve left it on silent!
Nest Learning Thermostat
Wireless enabled home thermostat which connects to – you guessed it – your smartphone. The clever concept here is that instead of the complicated switches and dated LED displays associated with programmable thermostats, all you have here is one dial control (it was designed by the man behind the original iPod, after all!).
The “learning” part happens automatically – adjust the temperature manually over a few days, and soon it starts to pick up on your lifestyle and preferences, and will take over the job for you.

Belkin Wemo home automation
This is a line of wifi-enabled home automation devices controlled from the mobile Wemo app, which promises to save you money along with the convenience of controlling everything from one hub. It uses Insight Switches – pass-through plugs which fit into wall adapters making it possible to remotely switch on or off any electronic device, as well as monitoring the amount of power it uses. You can add other features such as Wemo motion sensors, to automatically switch lights on or off as you move around the house.
Ever wanted to be able to switch on your kitchen kettle remotely from bed, so you’ve got boiling water by the time you walk into the kitchen? Well the iKettle makes that possible – or you can set the app to offer to switch it on along with your morning alarm, and keep it warm after it reaches boiling point if you don’t use it right away.

Another software one. If you are determined to buy everything on this list and automate everything you possibly can, as you might have realized, you are going to end up with a lot of different apps on your smart phone to control everything. This tries to solve that issue by acting as the equivalent of a universal remote control. Connect it to Internet of Things gadgets from any of the supported manufacturers and control everything from one simple app.

Hope this has given you a flavour for what I see as an amazingly exciting new world of connected and smart devices. What other gadgets would you add to this list? Also, let me know your views on the topic as a whole – are you excited or scared? Please let me know in the comments below…
Here is a slide summary of all these amazing IoT Gadgets for you to flick through:

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