The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase you may have heard when talking about anything from Internet fridges to smart toothbrushes. But it’s much more than that.
IoT could be the next big technology revolution, turning everyday objects into data collecting gold. It isn’t as complicated as it sounds — IoT is simply Internet connected devices that are able to gather data; from weather, to passenger numbers on trains, to the length and quality of your sleep.
Gartner has estimated that there could be a total of $235 billion spent on IoT this year alone, with 6.4 billion Internet connected devices in the wild. With so many devices set to hit the market in 2016, let’s take a look at some great ways you can get more connected right now.
1. Helmet Concussion Sensor
We all want to prevent concussions, especially as recent research is showing an even greater link between concussions and neurological issues later in life. This is particularly important in sports like football and hockey, and that’s where a product like Shockbox comes in handy.
Shockbox is a sensor that attaches to protective helmets and uses accelerometers to measure the effect of a head impact. This information is sent to the smartphone of a parent or a coach via Bluetooth, which allows them to make critical decisions like whether they should be taken off the field.
Available on both Android and iOS, this sensor-and-app combination also allows for the recording of symptoms after collisions in order to track the player’s overall health.
2. Medical Alert Watch
The health of elderly relatives can be difficult to track, but it’s even more difficult when they live on their own. Fortunately, you can now rely on Lively to help you there.
It’s a smartwatch that allows remote health monitoring of your loved ones. The smartwatch can track steps taken as well as other kinds of daily activities, plus it provides an emergency assist button that alerts Lively to call in and check that everything is alright.
These features would be great on their own, but Lively also offers sensors that can be placed around the home so that the system can learn what their normal habits are, like opening the refrigerator or taking their medication.
An online hub allows you to check on your loved ones by reviewing the collected information and looking for any potential changes in behavior that could be a sign of something more serious.
3. Dog Activity Monitor
As the market for health devices is so new, it may surprise you — but not shock you — to know that there is a smart device for monitoring your beloved dog’s health.
FitBark Dog Activity Monitor, Cool Grey
Monitor your dog's everyday activity 24/7 and set health goals Price: $69.95
The device from Fitbark is essentially a “Fitbit for Dogs”, and the company even acknowledges this by allowing you to connect your own Fitbit account if you so wish. It allows you to measure your dog’s activity and quality of sleep, providing theoretically useful data about their behaviors — something that can tell you more than a bark ever could.
With the US currently spending over $50 billion annually on pet care, expect to see more smart pet care products come to market this year.
4. Smart Running Shoes
The sportswear company, Under Armour, debuted a pair of game-changing running shoes at this year’s CES. Where most fitness trackers are worn on the wrist, the SpeedForm Gemini 2 running shoes have the tracking hardware built directly into the shoes themselves.
The shoes are able to do all the standard tracking like time, distance ran, and split times. Making use of their MapMyFitness acquisition, Under Armour has even made it so that the shoes integrate with MapMyRun to provide GPS data for your runs.
As for battery recharging, you won’t need to worry about that. Under Armour claims that the battery for the smart technology will actually outlast the useful life of the shoes.
5. Smart Fitness Clothing
Want to look like Iron Man when working out at the gym but never knew how? Well, now you can with the growing range of Smart Clothing from Athos.
Each garment has built-in sensors which measure muscle activity using electromyography. This information is relayed to the “Iron Man” hub, which you can attach to your chest or leg. Here’s how it works in more detail:
The hub sends this information back to your smartphone allowing you to analyze your performance during different exercises and perfect your techniques. Finally! A way to help you build that superhero body that will match your high-tech attire.
6. One-Button Product Purchases
“Order at the click of a button!” Amazon has taken that phrase literally and produced physical branded buttons called Amazon Dash that link to products in your home.
Say you run out of laundry powder. You can press your Dash button for Tide and Amazon will reorder your Tide Powder product for you. No need to sign onto the Web, fumble with payment methods, or retype credit card numbers.
You can check out the list of Dash buttons here and expect more buttons to become available throughout 2016 as Amazon makes more retail partnerships.
7. Garden Sensor
Parrot, which has been making wireless devices since 1994, is well known for its current range of drones. However, they also make this rather awesome sensor, Flower Power, which you plant into the soil next to your flowers.
The sensor analyzes sunlight, air temperature, fertilizer level, and soil moisture. Then, using a Bluetooth connection to your Android or iOS device, it can alert you to every need of your plant.
8. Smart Garage Controller
The Garageio smart garage door controller does what you would expect it to: open and close your garage door using nothing more than a smartphone app. It even promises to alert you if you leave your garage door open by mistake, but the real interesting feature is that you can grant garage door access to different people.
Garageio says they want to make sure their product does one thing well rather than bloating it with features, and they seem to be living up to that claim. However, that doesn’t mean the product is empty or devoid of features. At the very least, it has out-of-the-box integration with both IFTTT and Amazon Echo.
9. The Internet of Lego
Do you like Lego? Do you enjoy challenges? Here’s an Internet of Things project that combines both: the Internet of Lego. This project, which was developed by a systems engineer fascinated by IoT technology, is an entertaining mixture of electronics, programming, and Lego.
If you are looking for a project to get your teeth into that will improve your programming and electronics skills, as well as giving you something awesome to play around with, you should give it a go.
10. Raspberry Pi Amazon Echo
You may already know that the Raspberry Pi is one of the most flexible, low-cost computing devices out there. What you may not have known is that it can make a great DIY IoT device. The ability to attach sensors to the Pi has now become even easier with the release of the Pi 3 with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing more room for your own components.
Amazon recently launched the Echo Dot, a follow-up to the enormously popular Echo. But you can only order the Dot by using the Echo, so if you haven’t got the original device, how do you order the Dot?
By creating your own DIY Amazon Echo on the Raspberry Pi! Check out the video above which walks you through the process. And once you are done (and have ordered your Dot) you can sit back, content in the knowledge that you have created your own voice activated personal assistant.
Have you tried out any of these devices? Do you have any other awesome IoT products to share? Let us know in the comments below. (Bonus points if you attempt the IoT Lego!)