Smart phones. Consoles. Smart watches. Even fridges and vacuum cleaners. Everyday, we still try to squeeze a little more functionality out of them. We want them to be able to go beyond automatically connecting to the Internet and to automatically update to the latest version as soon as it is available. These days, we want all our gadgets to be truly interconnected.
With chips getting more powerful, smaller AND cheaper, everything around us can connect to the Internet. Adding sensors allows them to 'speak' to each other and 'learn', thus making gadgets 'smarter'. This allows gadgets to respond and even anticipate what we want, sometimes even before we do. Welcome, folks, to the Internet of Things.
Through continuous input and feedback, the IoT interlinks everything. These days, there's everything from cars that auto update their firmware to workout apparel that can tell you if you are working out one part of the body harder than another. The IoT is transforming our everyday tasks and giving our 'dull' hardware really cool functions.
Let's say you don't drive a Tesla yet, or don't live in a Smart Home, can you still use the IoT?
Like 215 million other Americans, you have some kind of smartphone. There's your access to the IoT. Through apps, you can use the IoT to connect and control a ton of stuff around you. Many apps were initially created purely for entertainment. Today, through the IoT, they give us customized experiences and solutions. Smart phone apps have become the nerve center of our interconnected planet. Some of these apps are experiments and some began as Kickstarters but all of them are real and are part of our ever advancing world.
10 Feed your Pets
What do you do when you have to go away on yet another impromptu business trip and can't find a pet sitter at short notice? The Smart Feeder from PetNet ensures your pet doesn't starve. It allows you to feed your dog or cat, via your smart phone! It even measures health metrics; we don't want you over feeding your pooch.
More of a bonsai person? Ditto for plants as the HarvestGeek brings out the farmer in you. Its sensors constantly monitor your garden environment and will notify you if any changes are detected. Too far to water the plants? HarvestGeek can remotely deploy equipment such as fans and lights, to correct any imbalances!
9 Auto Autos, Anyone?
With sensors on the highways that alert you to traffic conditions up ahead, even the roads are getting smarter. Industry experts estimate that every car will be connected in some way by 2025. More new car buyers are using the presence of onboard computers or some sort of internet connection as a condition for purchase.
While we've seen apps that help with navigation and avoiding speed traps, how about a spy app? FollowMee allows you monitor your teenager's use of the car in real time via GPS.
How about performing your own diagnostics at home? Using your smart phone (and an app, like Automatic), you can monitor the car's performance, your driving efficiency, even to remember where you parked the car at the mall. Automatic can even notify emergency personnel and loved ones if your car is in an accident.
8 No Butler? No Problem
That will be all, Jeeves.
Thanks to the IoT, you can unlock your garage, turn on soothing music and run a warm bath. Even if you are still miles from your front door. You can let the dog out, let your smart washer choose the best time to do laundry, even when to restock your fridge with groceries. Sensors like the Wemo and the Nest, allow your home to get smarter by the day. For example, the Jawbone UP24 activity tracker can sync with the Nest thermostat to sense when you wake up from sleep, so it automatically adjusts the temperature of your home.
While your phone won't replace all your keys (yet), there are many options that use NFC to help unlock doors. The August Smart lock is a smart phone controlled door lock, that allows you to even let friends in, even if you are in another state.
7 Wearable Sensors
One in ten Americans over 18 own some type of activity tracker. Whether it's using a watch, wristband or ring, we want to track our health and lives, past those New Year resolutions. From headphones that track your heart rate to the ICEdot Crash Sensor, a helmet mounted sensor that can notify emergency contacts in the event of a crash.
Love your tan, but don't know when to stop? The June bracelet from Netatmo; it measures the sun's impact on your skin. The jewel on the wristband syncs with your smart phone and will alert you when the skin has had too much exposure to the sun. It also tracks daily habits and advises women how to better take care of their skin. It's also pretty cute to boot.
6 Lost and Found
Keys, wallet, IDs, iPad always going missing? Stop blaming the gremlins. Ditch options like pasting bright colored Post-it notes on them and go high-tech. Turn your smart phone into a proximity sensor and never lose stuff again. Start by attaching a small sensor (most of them are about the size of a poker chip) to your frequently lost item, and syncing it to your phone. When the distance between the sensor and your phone becomes too much, these trackers will ping, shriek, flash, vibrate or do all at the same time.
Worried about your partner eating all your delicious cookies? Simply booby trap the lid of the jar and get a notification whenever they touch it. Going on a big shopping trip with the little ones? Slip the Tile device into your kid's pocket and get notifications when they wander away from you.
5 Get your Agatha Christie On
For those times when your phone gets pinched, there are apps that will automatically take pictures of the thief, set off alarms, even remotely wipe the devices. Lookout and WaveSecure can even send you the address where your phone is located.
Worried about what you're eating? The Scio is a phone controlled molecular sensor that allows you to scan and detect the chemical fingerprint of everything! Fruits, meals, smoothies; it even allows to test how healthy your plants are. Customized apps and a huge database of 'matter' provides you with detailed info about the composition and its quality.
4 Break your Beer Goggles
The hangover from last night's pub crawl is only one of many headaches when you scroll through your call log. Or when you start getting angry messages from people you 'may or may not' have sent nudes to last night. Luckily, there's an app to save you from this sort of embarrassment. DrunkBlocker will lock YOU out of your phone! Unless you can pass a quiz and dexterity test, you won't be allowed to use your phone and send any cringe worthy messages. They can also be set to only allow access to certain contacts.
Drunk Mode's 'breadcrumbs' feature has two stellar functions. We all have those friends who seem to end up 'lost' every time, on a night out. This app allows you easily retrace your steps and find them. It also helps answer the age-old question, “Where the heck did we go last night?”
3 Breaking Bad...Habits
The Quitbit is a device that incorporates an electronic lighter and an app to track the amount of cigarettes you smoke. It helps you become healthier by tracking how long it's been since your last cig. The data collected can be used to set and keep to custom goals for quitting. Tired of housemates passing the buck, when it's time to clean the apartment? Chorma co-ordinates chores and syncs between devices. You'll no longer have to hear Mikey say 'I didn't know it was my turn today.'
Pact, formerly GymPact, ensures you stop wasting that gym membership you took out. By integrating with most of your wearables, the app tracks your workouts and actually pays you at the end of a set period, if you really work out.
2 Early Detection
While data is available from trackers like the Fitbit and the Misfit Shine, but what do they mean to the average user? The whole point of tracking is to be able to improve performance, but what if you can't interpret the data? This can lead to confusion and cause consumers to get confused and quickly dump the tracker.
Devices like the AliveCor, actively monitors the heartbeat and is attached (via Bluetooth) to your smart phone. Your designated physician can then monitor and detect any anomalies that may occur.
The iTBra™ bra from Cyrcadia Health, routinely monitors and does a mini-breast exam from the comfort of your home. Highly customizable to fit every body shape, the iTBra™ uses sensors to detect signs of breast cancer. Boasting a 90% accuracy, it has the potential of being an absolute life saver.
1 Fun in your Undies
Durex Fundawear is a range of matched his and hers underwear that offers tactile feedback. Connecting via a smart phone app, you can run your fingers across the image on your screen and your partner will feel a buzz in their underwear!
The Vibease is the first wearable smart vibrator. It can create an 'immersive pleasure experience' through audio vibratory 'fantasies'. Listening to that sexy audio book while the Vibease hums along is sure to be an exceptional experience. The Hum claims to be able to learn what your body likes and will respond accordingly. The OhMiBod blueMotion allows you control a connected vibrator with voice or text commands. #doublethefun.