Nothing has got tech insiders quite so animated in the last year or so as the predicted explosion of the Internet of things. Market forecasts have become increasingly ambitious: 50 billion devices connected by 2020 according to Cisco; more than 250 million cars connected within the next four years if you believe AT&T; the heads at McKinsey think the market will be worth up to $11 trillion by 2025, and ABI research anticipates the Chinese IoT market will be the largest of all, reaching $41 billion by 2020.
But which of the rapidly growing number of devices are genuinely meeting consumer needs rather than adding to the pile of gimmicky gadgets? We’ve picked six that are widely tipped to go the distance:
Consumer technology giants Logitech released the Pop in August to considerable fanfare. It’s USP is to make smarthome control less of a faff by enabling you to use a single, physical button to operate all your smarthome devices rather than relying on several smartphone apps. It links into your Wi Fi and scans for compatible devices, including Sonos, WeMo and Harmony remotes, allowing you to create bespoke commands.
Lively is leading the pack when it comes to ‘active aging’ gadgets. Consisting of a series of sensors placed on objects around the home (a pill box or a fridge door for example) to monitor the habits of a vulnerable individual living alone, the unit gives health professionals and other concerned parties valuable insight into the user’s behaviour through cloud-based activity sharing of data.
Heralding the next generation of security cameras, this fully customisable offering from the fast-growing consumer electronics specialists Netatmo is one of its gradually expanding stable of smarthome devices. Highlights include the ability to detect exactly what or who is outside your house (a car, person or pet) and notify you on your phone via WiFi so you can watch a video stream of the action; an optional infrared video camera and an inbuilt driveway light.
One of the earliest smarthome products to hit the market back in 2011, the Nest thermostat has become a firm favourite among tech enthusiasts looking to make considerable saving on their utility bills. The device ‘learns’ your energy usage and habits, adjusting your home’s temperature to suit your schedule over time, and can also be controlled from your smartphone.
In an increasingly populated smart lock market, the recent offering from August has garnered the strongest reviews in the tech press. It’s reportedly remarkably easy to install, works with existing deadbolts rather than requiring you to change all your locks and operating it through Bluetooth is (generally) smooth going. It allows users to create an unlimited number of e-keys with bespoke parameters – distributing one to anyone with a compatible tablet or smartphone – and has a nifty auto-unlock feature that kicks in once you’re within a short distance of your front door.