07.16.2013

5 Futuristic “Internet of Things” Technologies to Automate Your Home Today (Videos)

By: TJ McCue
This sponsored article was written by T.J. McCue, a Seattle-based technology writer and consultant. His work appears in publications including Forbes.com, Small Business Trends, American Express OPEN Forum, and the Harvard Business Review. You can follow

Every year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) futuristic products get introduced promising to monitor and sense what happens in our homes so we can concentrate on what matters: family and friends. These things revolve around our stuff, and thus a new phrase has entered our vocabulary: the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things is about sensors, probes, and intelligent devices that monitor life around us. A growing community of innovators, hackers (in the most positive sense), makers, and other inventive types are looking at how to make managing our homes and lives effortless. The irony is that it takes just a little bit of effort on the part of the homeowner, most of the time, to make it effortless. Here is a list of five innovative home automation products that exist today:

1)      Take Twine – no, not the string, but a small contraption that can sense or monitor just about anything you want it to. Add a moisture sensor and it will send you a text message (or email or tweet) if your washing machine leaks and floods the basement. Put a magnetic switch on it, and you can know when Fluffy (your cat or dog or hamster) comes in through a particular door. Their Kickstarter campaign was immensely successful.  Read more about Twine.

2)      That might be too much work. Instead, buy one of the new smart refrigerators from Samsung. There were a lot of laughs at CES this year when Samsung introduced the fridge that can help keep a shopping list up-to-date or help you with a recipe because it knows what is in your fridge. But after thinking about it, many analysts and reviewers decided their laughs were unmerited because the smart cooler worked well and provided a way to make food shopping far more convenient. The T9000 model even works with Evernote. It will be a big day when your hungry fridge adds milk, eggs, and oreos to your Fresh Direct basket.

3)      Many homes have houseplants, some more alive and green than others, that need water. Keeping up with how much water and when can be a challenge. PlantLink takes care of that with a sensor-system that not only tells you how much water and when the plant needs it, but sends you an email or text message to alert you.

4)    Nest is a new device to control your home’s heating and cooling. If this learning thermostat looks like it came straight from the Apple design team, it practically did because the founder, Tony Fadell, lead the iPod and iPhone teams. This elegant device “learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20 percent. Digital strategist Tim Baker said of Nest, “I’m the least handy person in the word, and I installed it under five minutes. I didn’t expect a thermostat could change my life.”

 Nest Photo

5)      Ivee is for anyone who needs a personal, virtual assistant. This sleek voice-activated assistant looks like a little alarm clock you might keep in a bedroom, but it wakes up when you give it a command. Ivee is currently a Kickstarter campaign.

With Silicon Valley, Alley, Prairie and every incubation space in between working to connect the things around us, what area of our lives do you think should be tackled next? An estimated 30 billion devices are set to be wirelessly connected to the Internet by 2020. How about diapers?  They’re here already.

 

 

About the author(s): 

This sponsored article was written by T.J. McCue, a Seattle-based technology writer and consultant. His work appears in publications including Forbes.com, Small Business Trends, American Express OPEN Forum, and the Harvard Business Review. You can follow him on Twitter at @TJMcCue.