There is a lot of buzz surrounding the concept of connected smart devices –also known as the “Internet of Things.”
But what is this concept –and why is it gaining ground?
The Internet of Things (IoT), at its core, is about physical objects –that are communications enabled. These devices are “smart” because they are fitted with a sensor and a semiconductor or microcontroller that allows them to monitor the status of something –and pass data back to the cloud.
In some cases, smart devices simply monitor, and send the feedback to the users’ smartphone, enabling them to make decisions based on the information. In other cases, the information that the device obtains allows it to make its own decisions –like what you see with smart irrigation systems that are able to irrigate with a precise amount of water –based on current weather settings, or the Nest thermostat –that can adjust room temperature based on room occupancy.
The connectivity of everyday items with the internet has the potential to significantly enhance our lives. Thereis no question that as high-speed internet becomes even more widely available and affordable, and as the cost of connecting devices decreases, we’ll continue to see the IoT explode in popularity. Dozens of new gadgets are already flooding the marketplace. From smart air monitors, to fitness trackers, and personal digital assistants, to smart, connected lighting, there’s no shortage of great new pieces of tech that are smart, and connected.
Let’s look at a few smart devices that are available today.
Amazon Echo: Wireless Speaker/Assistant
Amazon’s Echo is a multi-tasking device, that’s essentially a personal assistant, day planner, and wireless speaker in one. This device is always on, ready to respond when you ask for music, news, information, and more. Echo’s “brain” is in the clouds, so it’s able to continually learn more and improve over time. It also stays updated automatically, thanks to the fact that it’s always connected.
Awair Air Monitor: Smart Air Monitor
The Awair Air Monitor is designed to help you maintain the best quality of air possible in your home. When the air monitor senses toxic chemicals or fine dust which can cause allergies or asthma flair ups, it alerts you and lets you know what’s causing the problem. This monitor also works together with other smart devices, like the thermostat and air conditioner, to keep the temperature ideal –automatically.
LIFX: Connected Lighting
Efficient, versatile light bulbs that are designed to adapt based on your preferences, Wi-Fi LED smart LIFX Light Bulbs are able to connect to your other devices, enabling you to customize and control them from wherever you are. These light bulbs also work together the Nest thermostat, which means that when the thermostat is set to “away” your lights will turn on and off to give the appearance of someone being home. This symbiotic relationship between LIFX and Nest also means that if there’s danger –like smoke in the kitchen while you’re in another room, the lights will flash red to warn you of trouble.
Fitbit Surge: Fitness Tracker
The Fitbit Surge is the ultimate super workout watch. It monitors your heart rate and your daily activity, keeping you on track and healthy. It also connects with your smartphone and computer to help you monitor your progress from wherever you are. The built-in GPS helps you to stay on track while you train, and allows you to review routes and your time.
Mr. Coffee: Smart Coffee Maker
The smart Mr. Coffee allows you to schedule, monitor, and brew your coffee from wherever you are. The app allows you to set up a week’s worth of coffee brews ahead of time so you never have to wonder if the coffee is going to be on when you wake up. Get smart, fresh, and hot coffee –every morning.
Withings: Home Monitoring
Withings home monitoring system is a smart camera that serves as a Wi-Fi monitoring system, allowing you to connect with your home anywhere, day and night –and view an HD video feed with minimal lags. This system allows you to capture special moments in the home, and also serves as a security system, and air quality monitoring system.
The popularity of the IoT is only expected to grow. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be more than 25 billion connected devices. Whether or not we reach that level of connectivity, it will certainly be fascinating to see what the future holds.
What are your thoughts? Which smart devices do you hope to see in the near future?
Jenny Milpacher is the founder and CEO of DeMille Global, LLC and co-founder of Infuse, Inc. Highly experienced in her field, Jenny has provided custom high-end automation engineering, programming, integration, and project management for more than a decade. She pairs this experience with the belief that luxury automation projects should be held to the highest of standards. Jenny and her team bring relief to clientele burdened with systems that suffer from poor engineering, faulty wiring, and non-responsive support.
Guided by an unflagging drive to exceed customer expectations, Jenny offers the unique combination of state of the art engineering and superior customer service. You can reach Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny, Just learned about the new IoT acronym at the Phoenix Mobile Festival this past weekend. There are many challenges facing early adopters of this new technology, the most important one being security as once you provide the linkage from your home to the cloud, it’s another hole in securing your home & your privacy. The other concern that was raised was how open the interface was & who controls where your data goes. The specific example given was that the Nest has a closed interface with an expectation they want to partner with utility companies. This sounds a lot like the smart water & electricity meters being installed on the outside of houses across the US, and it’s a little scary to consider how this will evolve over the next few years until industry standards are defined. Great topic & look forward to more info from you.
Tina, Great comments. Yes, early adopters of this technology have to be aware of their data being in the cloud and who owns that data. In regards to Nest, Google acquired Nest in 2014 and Google does love to collect data on users. It will be interesting to see how they combine the Nest data with that of it’s smoke alarms and cameras. In regards to security, it is important to first secure your home network. That is why we only use business class networking solutions. The homes we work on have too many systems running to rely on standard home networking equipment. Currently we monitor our clients homes for power usage, hardware failure and thermal issues. With this new technology we may soon start monitoring for unusual activity on the network. It will be interesting to see how individual products chose to protect themselves from hacking. You might find the following article from PC Mag helpful as well –