Best Internet of Things Devices You Should Try in 2016
Neither IT companies nor ordinary consumers can bury their heads in the sand pretending the whole Internet of Things concept is not worth the hype. IoT is here to stay. By the end of this year, there will be at least 6.4 billion connected devices worldwide. Smart gadgets offer a new level of convenience and automation by helping businesses reduce operating costs and make smarter decisions.
What about ordinary consumers?
Our road to the Internet of Things has been anything but smooth. IoT devices are produced by different brands, use different tech stack and therefore cannot talk to each other. There are still no universally approved IoT security standards – and that’s why baby monitors sometimes start talking in weird voices. The Internet of Things ecosystem is overcrowded with startups that often lack funding and expertise to create a reliable and truly useful device.
All of this, however, doesn’t stop Amazon, Google and Apple from pouring millions of dollars into groundbreaking IoT projects, and it looks like their efforts are paying off. A few months ago Invoxia managed to bring Alexa to the first non-Amazon device ever. Samsung’s smart refrigerator is finally on sale. You can now track whether your dog takes enough exercise using the FitBark activity monitor.
What are the newest Internet of Things devices you’re bound to try before 2016 comes to a close?
Best Internet of Things devices for business & everyday use
- Amazon Dash Button. Before Amazon introduced its Dash Replenishment Service in 2015, we could hardly imagine we’d be able to order personal hygiene goods, detergents and other stuff we’re running out in just one click. The Dash Button is a portable device connected to Amazon’s shopping app over Wi-Fi. You can stick it at some place where you use a product, configure the device so it would order the right amount of the product through your Amazon.com account and…change the way you’ve been doing shopping for decades! Although some early adopters of the Dash technology claim Amazon doesn’t really care about customer experience, the company has recently expanded its home replenishment program to over 150 brands and reportedly takes a new Dash-triggered order every 30 seconds;
- Samsung Family Hub. Thanks to Samsung, you can now purchase a connected refrigerator, remotely detect whether your food supplies need refilling and join the Groceries by MasterCard program to order products from ShopRite or FreshDirect. The fridge has a 1080p touchscreen mounted into its door and basically functions as a giant smartphone (although you can’t upgrade it with third-party software yet). Family Hub is meant to bring family members together by synchronizing their daily calendars, tracking each other’s activities and offering an opportunity to enjoy their favorite Smart TV content while having dinner. Although Family Hub is not exactly the IoT fridge we’ve been dreaming of (it could be – provided Samsung teaches the refrigerator to automatically monitor its contents, check expiration dates and place online orders), it’s the closest we’ve got to smart kitchens so far.
Gardening and agriculture
- Flower Power. If you’re one of those careless (or simply forgetful) gardeners who get upset every time their plants die from neglect, Flower Power (developed by Parrot) may put you on the right track. Although Flower Power looks like an ordinary twig, the gadget is equipped with several sensors that track the amount of sunshine and water a plants gets and detect whether it needs fertilizer. Here’s how it works. You purchase a Flower Power device, put it into the soil next to your plant (indoors or outdoors), download the Parrot Flower Power mobile app (available on the App Store), choose the type of plant you’re going to monitor and receive timely notifications once your silent friend needs attention. The app was developed with the participation of botanists. Its database features over 7 thousand domestic and wild plants;
- AgriHouse Leaf Sensor. While Flower Power is more suitable for non-commercial use (after all, each smart twig costs $ 60), the Leaf Sensor solution is designed for agriculture companies. Its concept was initially shaped by the University of Colorado team who, in their turn, granted the patent to AgriHouse. Leaf Sensor is a small gadget that can be clipped to a plant leaf to determine whether it needs watering. As leaves dry out, they contract, and the sensor measures these changes in electrical voltage. Farmers don’t have to put the sensors on every plant, of course: one device placed every 20-30 acres communicates the entire crop’s need for water. Agriculture companies consume up to 70% of fresh water available on the planet. Using smart solutions similar to Leaf Sensor, farmers can potentially reduce irrigation and pumping costs by at least 25%.
- MicroBot Push. In case you want to “educate” all the dumb objects that invaded your house, the MicroBot Push robotic finger is just what the doctor ordered. The wireless device enables users to push buttons (be it a light switch or stereo system) through the dedicated mobile app or by simply clicking their fingers. Thanks to MicroBot Push, you can orchestrate office equipment and home appliances when you’re away or want to brew a cup of fresh morning coffee;
- Twist. Astro, a NY-based Internet of Things startup, successfully married sound and light to help consumers make the most of their living space. Twist is a wireless speaker that also functions as a LED lamp. You can simply replace your old bulb with a Twist device and get a fully functional speaker that streams music from an iPhone, Mac or other Airplay gadget. Unlike the majority of Home Automation solutions, Twist is inexpensive, easy to install and does not require a connected hub.
Wellness and healthcare
- Lively Safety Watch. Connected beds, smart wristbands and beacons surely help hospitals manage their assets more effectively and access patient data in real time. And what about elderly patients with chronic conditions who live on their own? Here’s where Lively comes in handy! The safety watch is an extremely functional and stylish gadget that enables patients to contact the Lively care team and family members by simply pushing the emergency button. The device also displays time, counts daily steps and reminds users to take medication. Lively uses a long-lasting replaceable battery, works with an in-home hub, is 100% waterproof and supports remote activity sensors that learn patients’ routine patterns. Thanks to Lively, patients with dementia, diabetes, Alzheimer and severe heart conditions can live almost normal lives and stay in their own homes longer.
The Internet of Things is slowly but surely shaping our future, and the diminishing costs of IoT-related hardware and software development will certainly fuel consumers’ interest in new tech.
By the way, what’s your favorite device from my 2016 IoT list?