You've heard of the Internet of Things – the generic name given to all the various networked sensors, machines, devices and even buildings in the world – but most of those "things" stay in one place for the most part. The world is primed for an explosion of autonomous ambulatory devices, which led a team of engineers from the University of Waterloo in Canada to draft a conceptual framework for an "Internet of Drones."
As great as the smartphone is, it's not always the perfect tool, especially in the smart home. Once you start piling up numerous smart devices and the tangled array of apps that go with them, the smartphone becomes ... kind of dumb. Apps like Wink can help streamline that clutter, but French startup Sevenhugs believes the solution lies in better hardware. It ditches the smartphone completely in favor of a remote that finds the sweet spot between old fashioned clicker and touch-based mobile.
Some anglers are more attentive than others when it comes to monitoring their lines, but all feel the disappointment of an opportunity gone begging. Seattle-based startup FishSentry has developed a set of connected fishing rods designed to make reeling in the big one a more frequent event by nudging the user's mobile device when there's a nibble on the end.
With a back catalogue of fridges featuring sparkling water dispensers, independent cooling zones and touchscreens of all shapes and sizes, these days it might be more surprising if Samsung rolled in to CES without some kind of wacky refrigerator in tow. For this year's event, the Korean electronics giant has wheeled out a connected fridge with internal cameras so you can peer inside using your phone when you're out and about. After numerous false starts, could it be Samsung's Family Hub Refrigerator that earns this everyday appliance a place at the table of the Internet of Things?
If the launch of its Internet Refrigerator more than a decade ago didn't get the point across, then its steady stream of other smart fridges, washers and other appliances since certainly did. LG is a big believer in the connected home, and at CES next week it will showcase a new device targeted at those of a similar faith. Its SmartThinQ Hub is designed as a communication center for a home's smart appliances, while serving as a speaker and notification system at the same time.
Ceiling fans, thermostats, mailboxes and light fittings. It seems that no matter which direction you look in a smart home of the future you'll find a connected appliance interacting with its environment in one way or another. These smart devices generally feature hardware that's been carefully designed with a very specific purpose in mind, but what if there was more of a "one-size-fits-all" solution? British company Hanhaa is looking to offer inventors an easier route to the so-called Internet of Things, with a multi-purpose sensor kit that can be adapted to various tracking or monitoring applications within minutes of breaking open the box.
Padlocks are one of those everyday objects that seem ripe for the Internet of Things treatment, so it's no surprise that Master Lock has given its new line an intelligence boosting upgrade. Aimed at making forgotten combinations or lost keys a thing of the past, the company's Bluetooth-enabled smart padlocks improve security, simplify sharing and even send out tamper alerts. They're definitely smarter padlocks, but is a smart padlock for you?
The Internet of Things might be driving us further toward smarter devices, but there are still plenty of 20th Century analog appliances out there that won't be immediately cast aside. The Nyrius Smart Outlet could be the interim solution, as it applies some smart controls to those plugged-in devices via Bluetooth-connected iOS or Android smartphones or tablets. We recently had the chance to try it out for ourselves.
In the last few years we've seen a succession of connected letterboxes designed to modernize your mail by tracking incoming deliveries. But as the amount of shopping being done online continues to grow, so too does the size of the packages we need our mailboxes to regularly handle. One US company is looking to answer the call, with a smart, wall-mounted container that secures big packages as they are dropped off, and can even help arrange for their return.
Whether due to over-burdened schedules or just plain forgetfulness, accidentally-misplaced items can create inconveniences. Bluetooth tracking devices help keep tabs on personal items, but the latest from TrackR does one better than a game of "hot and cold." The TrackR atlas is designed to monitor belongings, pinpointing the room they're located in once they need to be found.