8 Insanely Smart Gifts That Connect You To The Internet Of Things
IoT friends, quantified self lovers, and all-around connected device enthusiasts, this one’s for you. With Christmas right around the corner, we’ve created an Internet of Things 2014 Gift Guide for all the quantified self lovers and their friends and family. Tons of IoT gadgets exists out there in the wild, so these are just a few of the products we’re really excited about. If you’re looking to bring in the new year better health, a better peace of mind, or the opportunity to unleash the tinkerer within, take a look at these connected devices below. We think they’d be great gift ideas for anyone looking for an IoT product to bring in the new year (and after reading this list, you may even want to get something for yourself). As a significant number of our readers live in Asia, we wanted to provide a list of products that are available or can be shipped within Asia. So, with a few exceptions, most of these products can be shipped to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and other locations in the Asia Pacific region. Enjoy!
BEST FITNESS TRACKER/WEARABLE GIFT: Jawbone UP3It’s impossible to talk about IoT gadgets, the quantified self, and Christmas gifts without bringing up the New Year and your list of resolutions. If better health and fitness are on your list for 2015, the Jawbone trackers are worth looking into. The newly released Jawbone UP3 helps you track your fitness, activity, and sleep with a wearable wristband (and we think it’s the best fitness tracker out there). Why we love it If you’re a serious athlete or swimmer or want to monitor your heart rate and workouts, UP3 is the device you’re looking for. The UP3 has an increased water-resistance of up to 10 meters compared to the UP Move and UP24 which were only splash proof. The Fitbit Flex can also be submerged up to 10 meters, but isn’t designed to track swimming workouts (see “Water Resistance and Swimming”). The Jawbone UP3 is an upgrade from the UP24 with new features highlighted below. New Features 1) A wearable heart monitor (Heart Health Monitoring): Jawbone saw there weren’t many well-designed updated wearable heart monitors out there, so they created their own sensor platform to solve this problem. Through UP3’s new multi-sensor platform, this connected device uses bioimpedance technology to measure your respiration rate, galvanic skin response (GSR or skin conductance), ambient temperature, and resting heart rate over time. This means UP3 can track whether your resting heart rate is going up (meaning its at risk for heart disease) or going down (a sign of a healthier heart). To learn more about how the UP3 is a wearable heart rate monitor, visit their blog post here. 2) Learns your habits (Auto Activity Classification): The UP3 learns your habits through different sensors and an accelerometer to analyse patterns in your movement. This helps the UP3 understand how different activities like yoga or swimming impact your fitness. 3) Advanced sleep tracking:The UP3 uses bioimpedance sensors to track your heart rate and skin temperature to understand how well you are sleeping. It tracks your deep sleep and REM cycles. Where the UP3 stands above competitors like Apple Watch or Fitbit is that its technology is completely dedicated to health monitoring, it doesn’t even have a time display. Another cool feature is that the Jawbone UP has IFTTT integration. This means you could integrate Jawbone Up24 with other IoT tech or smart home devices. Check out the IFTTT blog for ideas like automatically turning on your lights with the WeMo Switch when the Jawbone has logged that you’ve had enough sleep. The Jawbone has other IFTTT recipes too, like changing your smartphone’s wallpaper when you’ve logged a new mood. A few things to look out for These new features cut the UP3’s battery life to just up to 7 days rather than the 14 days of the UP24, however, this is still more than Fitbit’s Charge HR, coming out in early 2015 which will only last 5+ days. Not to mention, most other smart watches with fitness trackers built-in like Android Wear and Apple Watch which will only last 1-2 days before needing to be charged. You can compare Jawbone’s trackers here and decide for yourself which one you like most. Where to buy it If you’re looking to buy this IoT fitness tracker in Hong Kong, Singapore, other parts of Asia or elsewhere, check out their list of retail partners here. You can also look for the older Jawbone Up24 on the Apple Store. Price $180 USD
BEST SMART WATCH GIFT: PebbleThe Pebble is a smart watch that lets you see your smartphone notifications on your watch and lets you customize the time display along with a myriad of other functions. Thanks to a recent update, the Pebble also allows for passive step tracking and integrates with the Jawbone UP app (on Android/iOS) as well as Misfit. It also is water resistant up to 50 meters as well as has a battery life of up to 7 days. It’s the perfect gift for friends or siblings who are constantly glued to their phone. With Pebble, they’ll only take out their phone when they really need it. Why we love it There are a lot of competitors for smart watches, but the Pebble remains a simple and uncomplicated option with long lasting battery life, a variety of colours and wristbands like “Fresh Green” and “Cherry Red,” and great third party developer support with hundreds of applications on the Pebble marketplace. It’s a simple connected device that allows for a lot of customisation. And if you’ve been vying for the Pebble for yourself or a friend, the recent price cut puts Pebble on the lists of IoT tech gadgets just under $100 USD, making it a more affordable option for you this Christmas. However, if you are okay with a higher price and looking for a smart watch that will go better with your office attire, the Pebble Steel is an option at $199 USD. The Pebble’s 7-day battery life is also a lot longer than most other Android Wear devices like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R which only offer 1-2 days of charge. A few things to look out for If you’re looking for your watch to be a fashion statement, Pebble might not be your best option with the rectangular plastic screen, though it has been called “geek chic.” Where to buy it The Pebble ships globally. Price $99 USD
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY GIFT: Tile (APP)Tile is a great gift for the forgetful person, especially around the holidays when things are a little less routine. Stick it on your keys, in your bag, on your laptop, or on your bike. Tile relies on bluetooth and through an app on your phone, you can find your misplaced or lost things by sound or text clues. Why we love it It’s an affordable internet of things gift at $25 USD. If you buy multiple Tiles, the price per tile also goes down. Another cool feature is the Tile’s ability to crowdsource locations for your lost things. For example, if you’ve placed Tile on your bike and you forgot where you locked it, Tile can communicate with all the other Tiles around your Tile and send you notifications of where your lost item might be. However, this only works if you live in an area with a lot of other people also using Tile. In June, the number of Tile users was approaching 200,000 according to ZDNet. ZDNet also suggests a great idea of having your friends and family who live in the same area as you use Tile so that you can crowdsource the locations of lost things from them. A few things to look out for The Tile only works with iOS at the moment, so if your friend’s an Android user, Tile is probably not the best gift for them until the Android app comes out. (However, Tile did recently announce that they will be supporting Android soon starting with the Galaxy S5.) Also, Tile doesn’t have a removable battery, so users won’t be able to use it after about a year’s time. Another downside is that the Tile doesn’t ship to Asia, but if you’re an expat living in Hong Kong for example, Tile could be a great gift to send your parents, friends, or family living in Europe, the US and Canada, or Australia and New Zealand. Alternative trackers that do ship to Asia are the Pebble Bee and XYFindit. Where to buy it You can get Tile shipped to US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand through their website. Price $25 USD
BEST GIFT FOR PET OWNERS: PetcubePetcube is a tiny iPhone-connected cube equipped with a camera, motion sensors, and a laser toy, allowing users to watch over their pets and play with them while they’re not at home. Why we love it Petcube not only helps pet owners, but the company has also given back to the community and our furry friends by partnering with animal shelters in the US. With Petcube in animal shelters, app users can play with animals that would otherwise not get a lot of attention. A few things to look out for If you’re looking for this gift to arrive on Christmas, this might not be it. Petcube will only start shipping in January but can be preordered now on their website. Where to buy it You can get Petcube shipped to anywhere in the world through their website. Note: Petcube will only start shipping in January 2015. Price $199 USD
BEST FAMILY GIFT IDEA: Little BitsAnother family-friendly option may be Little Bits which can be a great gift idea for kids and adults. This company has created easy-to-use electronic modules that snap together so that you can create and prototype different things without having to solder or know how to code (although, you can integrate Little Bits with code if you want). Little Bits allows you to create DIY electronic projects, perfect for makers, hackers, and those who love to tinker. These are inventions that can start anywhere, from a spoon-connected-device that stirs your apple cider to curtains that open automatically for you when the sun comes up, turning your room into a connected home. Little Bits lets you create little life hacks with ease. Why we love it Little Bits is extremely customisable and allows you make almost anything an internet of things device, which gives you the freedom to use it to solve day-to-day problems or even explore your interests. For example, you can build something with Little Bits to let you know when your refrigerator door has been left open or you can explore interests like music. If you want to get really creative, check out MoMA’s window display made with Little Bits for some inspiration. You may even be looking for an alternative for LEGOs this Christmas, which Little Bits can be; but it can also integrate with LEGOs too. Check it out here. A few things to look out for If you’re considering this as a holiday gift idea for your little ones, you may want to look into the reviews to check if your kids are at a good age to enjoy Little Bits, especially for its price. A few reviews on Amazon had some things to say about this. Where to buy it Little Bits ships to most countries including those in Asia. It is also available in some stores in the US. Price Little Bits has several packages and add-ons. The starter kit is $99 USD. They also have smaller holiday DIY kits like DIY holiday ornaments for $29 USD as well as a smart home kit for $249 USD.
BEST SMART HOME DEVICE GIFT: LIFXLIFX is an energy efficient light bulb you can control with your smartphone. It’s wifi enabled and multicoloured. You can ease into your morning by using its app to slowly turn on the lights or you can change the mood in the room by changing the colour of the bulbs through your smartphone. Why we love it If you’re looking for a way to ease into a smart home this Christmas, LIFX is a good option. These bulbs are supposed last up to 23 years. According to PCMag, the colour is a lot richer and luminosity a lot brighter than alternatives like the Philips Hue. The LIFX also doesn’t require an extra hub for control, which is unlike many smart home devices. For example, the Philips Hue needs an extra hub. A few things to look out for The LIFX is not compatible with IFTTT which is a major drawback to those wanting to integrate their LIFX with other smart home devices this holiday season, however, the LIFX team says that IFTTT integration should be coming with their new release of the LIFX Cloud according to Smart Bulb Reviews. This IoT device is also a pricier option compared to alternatives like Philips Hue which is $60 USD. Where to buy it You can get their bulbs shipped globally online. Price Normally $99 USD, currently $79 USD for their Black Friday Special.
BEST HOME-SECURITY CAMERA GIFT: Y-cam Indoor Security CameraHome security may be on your mind during the holidays with taking time off and going out of town to visit family. With the number of people coming in and out of your home for dinners and gatherings, you might leave the door unlocked more often than normal. Y-cam’s different security cameras could be a good solution. You can monitor your home through your smartphone with Y-cam’s iOS or Android app. Why we love it Dropcam may be the top home security option on all the review lists right now, but it requires a subscription service for saving video to the cloud which can get quite pricey over time. With Y-cam, you can save the video to your own networks with compatibility with a variety of 3rd party services. The company also has another product called Y-cam HomeMonitor with 7-day free cloud storage, but HomeMonitor only ships to North American and the EU. We’d suggest Dropcam for those who want a simple solution (you can get it shipped to parts of Asia through Amazon). If you’re a tinkerer and want a more flexible subscription-free solution, try Y-cam. A few things to look out for Y-cam Cube HD does ship to Asia, but it may be considered a pricier option to alternatives like Samsung’s Smartcam on Taobao, Xiaomi’s Xiaoyi (Dropcam’s unsurprising doppelganger), or ZMODO’s ip camera (also a variation of Dropcam’s design). Where to buy it Ships globally from their website. Price Varies depending on model
BEST CONNECTED TOY: OsmoIf you’re looking for a family gift idea, this could be it. Osmo is not technically an internet of things gift, but it’s an educational toy that bridges the physical world with the digital one in such a cool way that we thought we’d make it an honorary member of this holiday gift list. Osmo has various games that take place not only on your iPad’s screen, but also in the physical world. Osmo comes with 3 games to start with: Tangram, Newton, and Words. For example, with Newton, players can hand draw environments like slopes or slides. Then, falling spheres on the screen will react to the environments as if they were being pulled down by gravity. Players can also put physical 3D objects onto the playing field and have them reflected on the screen. The Wall Street Journal describes the value of Osmo perfectly as a digital toy that “brings iPad-addicted kids back to real life.” (Of course, Osmo isn’t going to replace something like going on a hike, but it is a good alternative for parents who want their kids to spend less time completely absorbed by a screen.) Why we love it Osmo is a perfect example of the way technology can be used to transform lives in a positive and meaningful way. While on the Osmo blog, we saw this letter from Pam, a 78-year-old woman caring for her 87-year-old husband (previously a professor of Optical Sciences) who is now in the early stages of cognitive impairment, possibly Alzheimer’s. Pam has been using Osmo to help stimulate his brain. She describes using Tangrams and even uploading old photos through myOsmo to help her husband retain or retrieve old memories of his early life and family life. A few things to look out for Considering the price, Osmo’s current game selection is limited and could be a downside for anyone looking for more options out of Osmo. Where to buy it Osmo ships to Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand in the Asia Pacific Region as well as to locations within the US, Canada, and parts of the EU. You can get it shipped to other parts of Asia through the Apple Store. Price $79.99 USD – Let us know if you enjoyed our Internet of Things 2014 Gift Guide or if you have any other recommendations for awesome Internet of Things gift ideas. We’d also love to hear your experience with any of these products! Happy Holidays! Looking for gifts for makers and hackers? Check out our Brilliantly Geeky Gift Guide for DIY Hackers!
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