The best IoT, smart home gadgets in 2018
Out of the multitude of IoT devices I have tested, the Ring doorbell remains one of the most useful. Whether you are at home or away, the doorbell will alert you through your mobile device when motion is detected or visitors are at your door. You can then communicate directly with visitors, speaking to them through an inbuilt microphone, as well as capture video footage if your visitors are of the kind you do not want prowling close to your home.
Kuri is an IoT device for those willing to splurge out. The cute mobile robot, complete with microphone, hands-free command features, camera, speakers, and mapping sensors has been designed to wander around the house, being present as an assistant and a means to access the web, audiobooks, music subscriptions, and more. This robot may also appeal to families as Kuri can be set to automatically take pictures and footage of the chaos of daily life.
Wemo home automaton range
Belkin's Wemo range is a solid option for those interested in home automation. Light switches, plug outlets, dimmers, and home security systems all fall under the umbrella and are an affordable way to introduce automatic controls into the home.
Philips Hue lighting
For those looking to upgrade from standard, harsh home lighting, the Philips Hue smart lighting range is worth consideration. The range includes both white and color lighting options which can be controlled remotely for a variety of hues and brightness levels, as well as connected to smart home hub systems such as the Amazon Echo.
BenjiLock is IoT's answer to the traditional padlock. The device is a simple, standard padlock made of stainless steel which can be opened with a key -- but it also includes biometric technology which allows users to open the padlock with their fingerprint.
Logitech universal remote
The Logitech Harmony elite universal remote is an interesting addition to your smart home. The remote, equipped with a touchscreen and LED lighting, can be programmed to control a vast array of connected devices.
Foobot air quality monitor
Footbot's air quality monitor is an elegant, small device which monitors your home's air quality, including levels of C02, temperature, and humidity.
The wireless gadget connects to your mobile device via an app to provide this information to users and can also be connected to other devices to automatically improve the quality of the air in your home environment.
August smart lock
Amazon's August smart lock, third generation, is a device designed as an alternative to traditional door locking mechanisms. You can grant access to others for limited amounts of time through the Amazon Echo or your mobile device, track activity near your door remotely, and you can fall back to your existing keys if you wish.
U by Moen
U by Moen is a smart, connected shower which can not only be controlled manually but by your voice or mobile device.
The smart shower includes temperature controls, scheduling, a timer to prevent users wasting time -- or money -- in the morning, as well as mobile device notifications to let you know when your shower is warm and ready for you.
Keen gardeners may enjoy the Rachio 3, IoT's answer to outside management. The smart sprinkler system can be used to automatically regulate and water your lawn, while an accompanying app can help users set up schedules and monitor water usage.
Not every smart home gadget needs all the bells and whistles, and the strength of this product is in the basics -- a wireless speaker with a strong Bluetooth connection.
Xoopar's cute robot-esque speakers, which come in a range of sizes, have audio power beyond their size. The quality is clear and crisp and there is enough volume to fill a room easily. Those who particularly enjoy bass may find the Boy range appealing.
You hook up the wireless speaker to a laptop, iPhone, Android smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and it's that simple. On a single charge, expect up to eight hours of playback.
The Amazon Echo smart speaker, connected to the Alexa voice assistant, is a good choice as the hub for your smart home. The speaker can be given "skills" to access content such as music subscriptions, radio, news, and local services -- and the Echo ecosystem for smart home devices is expanding daily. You can control a range of devices at present including Belkin devices, Philips Hue lighting, SmartThings, and many more.
Google Home is another smart speaker and smart home device controller. Google Home links to the Google Assistant for voice-based searches and commands as well as IoT device controls and has access to subscription services including Spotify and Netflix.
Nest learning thermostat
The Nest learning thermostat is an intuitive way to control the temperature in your home. The thermostat can be remotely controlled through a mobile device, but its true strength lies in learning what your temperature preferences are -- automatically working to keep to your preferences whilst at the same time, saving you money.
Another produce from Nest is the Cam, an indoor security system which has proven popular. The Nest Cam Indoor records activity in your home in 1080p HD and users can access real-time footage remotely at any time. The night vision is good and the device is likely to appeal to those who frequently spend time away from home.
The original point of smart home devices was to make daily life easier and more convenient -- so why not use a robot vacuum? The RoboVac 11, especially useful for pet owners, uses infrared sensors to map its environment and avoid obstacles and is also able to automatically return to its charging base when required. However, as the owner of one myself, these devices, in general, are not suitable for shaggy rugs or carpets with long fibers.