The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we operate, automating everything from baby cradles to running shoes. With the IoT tech revolution creating more and more smart products every year, trying to keep up on the latest developments in automation can be daunting.
To make sure you don't miss out on any of this year's must-have tech, here's a list of the best IoT gadgets from 2016.
1. Amazon Echo and Echo Dot
Amazon Echo—Amazon's voice-controlled digital assistant—runs a host of features that make it one of the most flexible smart home AI helpers out there. You can access the Echo through Alexa Voice Service and ask it to control your lights, adjust the thermostat, play music, and more. Though the Echo is small (a 9.25-inch-tall cylinder), its volume-controlled speaker is powerful. If the Amazon Echo is out of your budget range, Amazon has a smaller version of the Echo called Echo Dot.
2. Samsung's SmartThings Hub
The center of any IoT home, Samsung's SmartThings Hub controls hundreds of compatible devices to make a fully customizable smart home. The hub communicates over Wi-Fi to manage other automated products like your TV, lights, thermostat, locks, and security system. If you want to connect multiple smart devices to the hub, make sure your internet service provider has enough bandwidth to handle the load. After connecting these products, you can then access them from your smartphone.
3. Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper with Smart Connect
Sleep is a luxury when you're the parent of a newborn, and Fisher Price tries to maximize it for both parent and baby with the new Smart Connect feature on its time-tested Rock 'n Play Sleeper. The curved sleeper keeps babies propped up 30 degrees on their backs to prevent SIDS. The Bluetooth connectivity lets parents operate every feature—rocking the cradle, playing music, controlling vibration intensity, etc.—hands free.
4. Under Armour SpeedForm Gemini 2
Taking fitness wearables to a new level is Under Armour's SpeedForm Gemini 2, a running shoe with a built-in tracking chip. The tracker syncs to the Map My Run app, which tracks and records time, duration, splits, distance, GPS location, cadence, and even shoe life. The running metric hardware doesn't require any additional devices to record activity, so runners don't need to bring a phone during their workouts. The battery never needs to be changed—Under Armour says the battery will outlast the shoe.
5. Lutron Serena Remote Controlled Shades
The Serena Remote Controlled Shades by Lutron offer so much customization that you'll never have to touch your shades again. Through the app, you can control the shades remotely, schedule them to open and close at certain times, and use a geofence to adjust the shades automatically when you leave or return home. These shades are compatible with other smart devices, so you can activate them through your Apple Watch, for example.
6. Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit
For the IoT rookie hoping to get started in home automation, the Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit is perfect—after plugging it in, you're ready to start with no additional products or intricate wiring required. The remote syncs to up to 10 light bulbs for wireless control. For more customization, you can also buy the Philips Hue Bridge, which enables smart device app controls.
Tech geeks and even newbies will love the convenience of IoT product features. Share this list on social media so your friends and family can see some of the hottest IoT products from 2016.
Photo: Flickr Sho Hoshimoto