With homes getting smarter, customers seeking out easier ways to exist and companies throwing up all manner of devices in the internet of things’ (IoT) early days, what caught our eye in the world of IoT the most these past 12 months?
Actually, every year from now until we all become one giant Borg Cube thing will be a little bit more ‘all about IoT’.
There have been some excellent additions to the nascent IoT world, as well as some less than excellent ones. For the latter, think this bunch of smart bottles that each fill a need that will never exist in any form or respectable society.
For the former? Think Amazon Echo.
The best IoT device of 2015: Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo was Amazon’s No.1 best seller of any product over $100 on Black Friday. I know, I know, ‘Amazon product does well on an day shaped almost in Amazon’s image’ is hardly big news but, considering the amount of items they shifted last week, this was an eye-catcher.
The Echo actually came out late last year but, as it is IoT-focused, improvements have been continual in 2015.
The Echo is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, doubling up as a Bluetooth speaker and a handsfree, know it all, clever little portable servant. It can act as your very own personal Wikipedia page if you would like, answering your random questions about capital cities or historical dates.
It can take your verbal cues to add items to your shopping list, if you prefer. Alexa – the name Amazon gives to its AI operator within the Echo – can keep you updated on your calendar commitments, local restaurant reviews (through Yelp) or even interact with other smart devices in your home.
It looks like a tube for tennis balls, and the actual sound quality isn’t the best – for that, pick up the ridiculously cheap Burst speaker I messed around with recently.
But, as it’s an ever-improving AI clever clogs, the Echo is an evolving force. And, when you think of IoT, it’s something like the Echo that springs to mind.
IoT is a broad field, with many an idea popping up. But here are a few more gems that have emerged in 2015. We’ll start in the kitchen, with the June Oven. This isn’t cheap, coming in at around $1,500, but still it sounds amazing.
The intelligent oven is basically excellent. The interactive, touchscreen front face lets you decide things like how you want your steak done. Cameras inside the oven can read what food you’re making.
The June app then syncs your smartphone with June to tell you when it’s done, providing you with updates that you can, for no real reason, take pictures of throughout.
Another great device we came across this year was Ring, an IoT masterpiece in that it fulfils a genuine function, and it’s incredibly simple. Mounted where your doorbell usually goes, it has a camera that syncs up to your smartphone via an app. So, when someone like a delivery person knocks at your door, but you are in the office, you can video chat with them.
There’s also Hive, of course, which is Bord Gais’ new IoT thermostat, and EvaDrop, a shower head that knows when to turn off. This is hardly a phenomenal creation but anything to conserve water is a good creation in my head. Oh, and, wherever there’s SmartThings, there’s yet more innovation.