What is IoT?
IoT, or the Internet of Things, describes a system of interrelated devices that can connect to and be managed on a network. IoT empowers consumers and provides them with a seamless experience across devices that were previously not able to communicate or monitor their environment. IoT first started growing as a buzzword in the tech industry after 2010 but the inception is believed to have been in 2008 or 2009. The idea of home automation and reducing the need for repetitive everyday tasks fueled the initial push of the Internet of Things movement. Since the initial growth of the concept, the Internet of Things has grown drastically and launched manufacturers and consumers into the age of the ‘Smart Home’ – a new market that is forecast to reach over 53 billion dollars by 2022. (1)
Even though the market has developed and flourished over the past 9+ years, most people asked have no idea what IoT or an IoT device is. Although correct, the terms Internet of Things and IoT haven’t quite made it out of the tech industry, instead they’ve been obscured by “Smart”, “Connected”, and “Wi-Fi -Enabled”. These terms that are now mainstream for IoT products actually stem from the terms “Smartphone” and “Connected Device” which were first used back in 1990’s to describe PDA integrated phones and printers.
IoT Products and IoT Devices
In 2019, no longer is a simple integration of two products called a smart product, instead the term smart product and IoT product have become synonymous. So, what is an IoT product? Similar to the definition of IoT, an IoT product is a manufactured product on the market with an internal device that enables network connectivity and additional sensing functionalities. IoT products, or smart products, have the capability to be controlled or control another IoT product remotely.
An IoT device is an integrated component that allows for and leverages three things:
- Network Connectivity – For example: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Cellular Connectivity.
- Sensing Capabilities – For example: Motion Sensing, Temperature Sensing, or Humidity Sensing (Monitoring sensor measurements is called Telemetry).
- Additional Technology Features – For example: RFID Reading or Barcode Scanning.
IoT Products vary in technology depending on the manufacturer and desired functionality. Typically, they connect to a network via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Cellular Connectivity and have additional technologies built in in order to sense, monitor, or engage with their environment or auxiliary items.
Additional technologies that can be built into IoT products include: RFID, BLE, UWB, Barcode Scanning, etc.
Sensing Capabilities that can be integrated into an IoT device include: Acceleration, Machine Vision, Motion, Velocity, Displacement, Temperature, Humidity, Sound, Vibration, Chemical/Gas, Pressure, Water Levels, etc.
Now let’s learn about IoT products and how they are changing everyday life by placing technology at consumer’s fingertips.
IoT 5 of 5
Five Lists of Top Five IoT Products
Top 5 Best Selling IoT Product Types
The Nest Thermostat was one of the first widely popular smart devices on the market. The ability to not only control your thermostat from your smartphone, but also see and analyze data in order to save money was groundbreaking in the consumer market. Now, several smart thermostats are available, including an open-source thermostat for developers.
First sold in 2008, smart TVs changed the way that people view television, offering them more than just local and network channel availability, and changed the cable TV industry drastically. The ability to stream music, movies, photos, and smartphone apps on one TV is now the standard in most households.
Smart Speakers are Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled speakers with an option for additional voice command hub with a voice assistant integrated into one. Smart Speakers allow users to play their favorite music and ask questions through voice commands that start with trigger words or ‘hot words’. The Amazon Echo and the Sonos One are two of the top selling smart speakers on the market.
Smart Light Bulbs
Smart Light Bulbs allow for changing light color, setting light on/off schedules, and setting different modes depending on activity – all from the convenience of your smart device. Not only that, but these smart light bulbs are long lasting and energy efficient which can save users money in the long run. The Phillips Hue bulbs and the Lifx+ bulbs are some of the most popular on the market.
Smart Doorbells like the Ring Doorbell have made homes across the world more secure by providing visibility outside a door, which also has created safer neighborhoods by recording motion like theft and even kidnappings. Because of this product’s success, an array of motion sensing cameras for both outdoor and indoor environments have been released to work in conjunction with the brand’s smart doorbell.
Top 5 IoT Products Under $100
IoT Product: Smart Camera
One of a few different smart cameras on the market, the PetCube Play is meant for animal lovers who want to keep an eye on their pet(s) while they're out and about.. Controllable through an app on a smart device, the PetCube Play has a few different models that enable interactivity from both sides of the camera.
Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Smart Plug
IoT Product: Smart Plugs
One IoT device with a plethora of options in both type and functionality, are smart plugs. While they are low cost and small in form factor, smart plugs offer several convenient functions. Consumers can use voice commands to turn on lights or other devices, as well as setting routines for plugged-in devices and monitoring energy usage. The Samsung SmartThings Smart Plug starts at only $18 which puts it at one of the lowest price points on the market while offering energy usage monitoring on the connected app.
Fitbit Inspire Activity Tracker
IoT Product: Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers enable users to not only track how many steps taken per day, but also monitor heart rate, calories burned, and even track sleep. These IoT products for fitness integrate with a smartphone in order to provide statistics to create a trackable daily data log. The Fitbit Inspire Activity Tracker is high on features and low on cost making it a popular option for consumers.
Wyze Cam Pan 1080p Smart Home Camera
IoT Product: Smart Security Cameras
Smart security cameras provide home owners control and visibility of their home from their smartphone. Live streaming, 360 panning, and voice control are some of the features of smart security cameras and the Wyze Cam comes with all of these at a very reasonable price.
Anova Precision Cooker Nano
IoT Product: Smart Precision Cooker
In the first wave of smart devices specifically made for the kitchen, smart precision cookers are an innovative way to ensure cook perfection every time. This smart cooker has a connected app for smartphones that lets you monitor the smart cooking process, set times and degrees, and also provides you with recipes and how-to guides. The Anova Precision Cooker Nano is one of the only smart precision cookers under $100 with advanced smart capabilities.
Top 5 New IoT Product Types
Smart Light Panels
Smart light panels hang seamlessly on walls allowing control of lighting color, brightness, and enable modes like music syncing. These panels create a colorful picture and add mood lighting to any home with no-hassle installation and direct connection to a panel control app on your smartphone.
Similar to other smart products like smart thermostats, smart sprinklers were designed to give consumers money saving visibility into their utility usage. Some smart sprinklers are even more granular and adapt to plant type and sun exposure for the best tailored lawn care available.
Smart appliances like washers and dryers, dishwashers, ovens, stovetops, and convection ranges are now IoT compatible. Some smart appliances are even voice-command compatible through smart speakers or smart hubs like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Smart appliances are one of the most expensive pieces in creating the dream of an interconnected smart home.
Smart mirrors are currently being introduced to the smart home market and can now function as hubs of specific information and can be controlled via a smart touch switch. The smart touch switch can control things like the brightness of the light, a defogging feature, and weather forecast changes. Once these mirrors are set up on a Wi-Fi network, they can provide information like time, date, temperature, and humidity all displayed on the mirror itself.
Instead of sleeping with your smartphone to track your sleeping habits, now an IoT mattress is on the market that can track sleep patterns, heart rate, and even respiratory rate. This mattress has temperature control features and a smart alarm that can detect the optimum time to wake up. It also can connect to smart speakers like Amazon Alexa in order to audibly explain sleeping patterns.
Top 5 Hobbyist IoT Devices
IoT Device: Microcontroller
The Raspberry Pi has been around a long time, but most people do not know that this device, or one of the others below, is how smart devices, well - get smart. A Raspberry Pi is a small computer that can be integrated into a product to form the foundation and enable network access for a smart product. Add low-cost sensors, cameras, or other accessories to increase a smart product’s functionality.
IoT Device: Microcontroller
Similar to the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Uno is a microcontroller, but it specializes in reading inputs like messages or sensor actions and intelligently turning those inputs into signals for an action like turning on an LED. The Arduino board is open-source and can be used by anyone to create a device that interacts with its environment.
IoT Device: Microcontroller
Raspberry Pi Sensors Starter Kit
IoT Device: Microcontroller Starter Kit with Sensors
It can be much easier to get started with a new project with a beginner’s kit with everything included, and this kit has it all – a Raspberry Pi and 37 Sensors. This kit also includes instructions for 35 projects so that users can start building with step-by-step guides until they are more comfortable and able to start from scratch.
Adafruit HUZZAH ESP8266 Breakout Wi-Fi Microcontroller
IoT Device: Wi-Fi Microcontroller
At a price point of only $9.95, this Wi-Fi microcontroller can be purchased to enable a product or device to have Wi-Fi connectivity. If a small computer like the devices above are too much product for your IoT DIY, this small microcontroller can be the right option to create the smart product that you have been looking for.
My Top 5 Favorite IoT Products
Traeger Smart Grill
IoT Product: Smart Grill
One of the first smart grills on the market, the Traeger Smart Grill allows complete control of your grilling experience from your smartphone. Grilling abilities like on/off, temperature control, preheat settings, adding smoke, and step-by-step instructions for different types of food create a new experience for outdoor cooking.
Litter Robot 3
IoT Product: Smart Litter Box
A smart litterbox is a unique use of IoT technology that the Litter Robot 3 does seamlessly. With abilities like health notifications, history of usage, and alerts when the waste drawer is full, the Litter Robot 3 allows users to have complete control from their smartphone and further keeps with the brand’s promise to users to ‘never scoop cat litter again’.
NIGHTWATCH Equine Smart Halter
IoT Product: Smart Halter
The world’s first smart halter uses radio-frequency technology and Wi-Fi connectivity to create a life-saving device for horses. Horses with health issues or risks need to be monitored constantly because without treatment, common intestinal issues can cause death in as little as 12 hours. Horses do show signs of illness, but most barns do not have on-site monitoring 24/7. The NIGHTWATCH Smart Halter monitors a horses’ health and sends vital information to connected smart devices. This halter can send alerts and call owners/caretakers when vital signs reach abnormal levels so that a veterinarian can be called immediately.
iRobot Roomba 675 Vacuum
IoT Product: Smart Vacuum
The iRobot Roomba 675 Vacuum is a highly rated smart vacuum cleaner on the market. Strong suction, close floor contact, and the ability to move between floor types makes this IoT vacuum one of the best buys for the money. The Roomba 675 can be controlled from your smart device and via Amazon or Google’s voice assistants for scheduling and monitoring the cleaning process.
Husqvarna Robot Lawnmower
IoT Product: Smart Lawnmower
The Husqvarna Robot Lawn Mower, or Automower, can be monitored and controlled via a smart device including voice control with Amazon or Google Home Assistants. This Automower comes with theft prevention, safety features, scheduled programming, and works in any weather. Boundaries can be placed around the yard to keep the smart lawnmower inside and it will automatically stop if lifted even slightly off the ground.
Well that is 20 IoT products and 5 IoT devices available for you to start in the world of home automation. If you have any questions about IoT, comment below or contact us for more information.
To learn more about IoT and RFID basics, check out the links below!