The digital world has witnessed great leaps in the recent years. The Internet of Things (IoT), in particular, has been making waves since its first breakthrough.
Deep in the annals of IoT history is a coke machine in the Carnegie Mellon University that became the precursor of connected devices. Situated in the Computer Science department, this machine can tell CMU students in their rooms the availability of a cold bottle of coke.
Mike Kazar, David Nichols, John Zsarnay, and Ivor Durham modified the machine in 1982 to track its contents remotely so that they never have to run to it only to be disappointed. Although their coke machine is a far cry from what IoT devices can do now, they have unknowingly just created the first IoT device.
Fast forward to the present, IoT technology has endowed devices with “smart” capabilities that allow them more activities than exchange data with other devices. Through wireless networks and internet connection, machines can collect, store, and exchange data, make autonomous decisions according to those data, and perform tasks based on preset conditions.
Tech giants like Inter, Apple, and Samsung are already substantially investing in the IoT market. Likewise, numerous entrepreneurs and start-ups have developed and released a wide-range of products with IoT capabilities.
While the CMU coke machine will always have a special place in our heart and 36 years have passed, we now have a plethora of IoT devices that can do so much more. With some more impressively handy than the others, it’s hard not to have favourites.
Here’s a run-down of some of my favourite IoT devices on the market in 2018.
Amazon’s Alexa definitely tops this list. Alexa is a voice-control system that can act as your intelligent personal assistant. By uttering commands to an Echo smart speaker, you can interact with Alexa, you can ask her to play music or an audio book, make lists, set alarms, stream podcasts, or perform Google search. You can even ask about the weather, traffic, and other real-time information.
Additionally, Alexa can be used as a home automation system to control other smart home devices. Users can also expand Alexa capabilities by installing “skills.”
Blue Smart is the first ever connected suitcase. A Blue Smart carry-on has 3G and GPS features that allow you to track where it is. More impressively, it has USB charging ports, so you can charge your devices up to six times while you’re on the road.
Additionally, the built-in scale in the handle lets you know how much your luggage weighs even before hitting the airport. You can also lock the luggage remotely—talk about taking traveling convenience to the next level.
Tado is a smart AC control gadget. Not only does it give you the power to control your home temperature remotely and automatically, but it can also turn on the lights and disables the alarm. Its location tracking capabilities can tell if you’re home or en-route and adjusts the AC accordingly.
The gadget can also digitally track weather forecast and the internal temperature of your home and correspondingly adjusts the temperature. These smart features can allegedly save you over 30% on your heating bills.
As their website says, Activ 5’s Activbody is a “Gym in your pocket.” It’s a portable strength training device and coaching app that anyone in any fitness level can use. It provides isometric workouts (the first-ever to do so) and allows individuals to workout anywhere through 5-minute full body exercises.
Activbody comes with a handy companion app that guides you along and measures your strength, precision and reaction performance so that you’re always doing exercise that suits your fitness level while also improving it.
From fast onboard Wi-Fi to safety to car diagnostic, a Vinli device can quickly turn any car into a smart car. The built-in 4G LTE boasts of a signal stronger than your mobile data and a bandwidth that’s powerful enough to handle up to eight connected devices at once.
As a cherry on top, the Wi-Fi connection acts as a safety net in case an emergency or the need for road-side assistance arises. It also allows you to locate your car if it was stolen.
Vinli ups the ante even more with its diagnostic functionalities such as oil change reminders and check engine alerts.
Give these IoT gadgets a spin and see for yourself just how far IoT technology has come since the 1982 CMU coke machine.
Photograph by Crosa