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10 of this year’s strangest IoT (Internet of Things) products

Want to connect yourself to everything you own? Here’s a breakdown of the wackiest, strangest, data-stealing IoT items on the market today. Brace yourself…

 

The Egg Minder

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Description:

“If you were going to put all your eggs in one basket, you’d want it to be this one. Part of the Quirky + GE line of products, the Egg Mindertells your Wink app the number of eggs left in your tray, and when the oldest one got there. You can check your egg tray while you’re at the store, so you’ll never be in a scramble for a good egg again. A light sensor detects when you open the fridge door, and an LED light highlights the oldest egg. Now that’s over-easy!

This idea was hatched by Rafael Hwang, alias Think. To date, 1,266 Community influencers have helped shape the Egg Minder, available in our Quirky Upcoming section today. Check it out, and see if you can help us crack the perfect price.”

Pros, Cons and Mehs.

Pros: Reduces stress and Vegan-Friendly.

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Con: Requires you to monitor the batteries.

Imagine this, you’re at the store, wondering if you need eggs. You tap into your Egg Minder app only to discover the Egg Minder has run out of batteries!

Now, instead of monitoring eggs, you have to monitor the devices batteries.

Meh: Price.

With a list price of a whopping $50, the Egg Minder was a headscratcher. However, we found it on sale at the bargain price of $12.50 on Amazon since it has technically been out a couple years now. You’ll even get free 2 day shipping with prime so you’ll soon be monitoring your eggs!

Hum

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Description:

For $14.99/month and the low, low cost of having all of your travel data in the hands of Verizon, you can turn your car into an IoT connected device. Introducing Hum.

Pros, Cons, and Mehs.

Pros: Some very helpful features.

  • Reminders for Maintenance
  • Notifications on Vehicle Health
  • Mechanics Hotline
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Emergency Assistance
  • Stolen Vehicle Location
  • Parking Assistance to help find where you left your car
  • Service and Travel Discounts

Cons: Giving all your travel data to Verizon.

According to Verizon’s own Hum disclosers, they collect more data than they advertise in their snazzy commercials. In the commercials, they mention data for vehicle maintenance and location for emergencies. However, what the commercials leave out is that they also collect trip distances, acceleration, deceleration, turning, speed and revolutions per minute. This is the exact type of data that SnapShot from the insurance company Progressive uses to determine if you’re a “good” or “bad” driver. It’s not data you have much use for, so does Verizon collect it?
Verizon’s privacy policy, available at www.verizon.com/privacy, describes the information, collection and use practices applicable to hum service. When installed in your car, the hum System collects information about your vehicle’s performance and maintenance characteristics, as well as vehicle location and use information (including trip distances, acceleration, deceleration, turning, speed and revolutions per minute).
Information that identifies your vehicle and other personal information may be shared as described in the information sharing sections of the privacy policy (“Verizon shares customer information within our family of companies.”) as well as when it is necessary to provide various hum service features, such as alerting emergency personnel of your location if a crash is detected, helping authorities locate your vehicle if you report it stolen or helping roadside assistance locate your vehicle.

In Hum’s service agreement, they actually give a couple of examples of how they sell your data.

For example, a company may find it valuable to know the number of vehicles on different roads at various times during the day and the percent of drivers of those vehicles that are in a certain age range.
Hum information may also be shared with third parties in a way that does not identify you personally. For example, it may be used to provide traffic reporting and similar services, or to inform car manufacturers about characteristics of different vehicle models.

They give a couple of vanilla examples that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But what about “IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO NOTIFY EVERYONE WHO USES OR OCCUPIES YOUR VEHICLE THAT PARKING LOCATOR IS ACTIVE AND THAT PARKING LOCATOR ALLOWS YOU TO ACCESS INFORMATION ABOUT THE VEHICLE, INCLUDING ITS LOCATION.”

An example of how they could sell your data without personally identifying you or your car? Verizon could legally, by its own terms and conditions, sell this data to a towing or parking enforcement agency wanting to make sure that no one is illegally parked in their spaces or lots. All they’d have to do is alert the towing company that somebody is illegally parked, not releasing any of your car or personal data. This is not to say that Verizon is planning on something like this with hum, but their terms and conditions are so broad they could do all kinds of things with your data that might not be beneficial to you.

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Meh: The price without any privacy. 

Originally released at $20/month with a steep cancellation of $120 (almost the cost of keeping the system for the whole year). Verizon, likely realizing they weren’t going to attract customers with the same tactics they use for phone agreements, recently dropped the price to $14.99 with free cancellation. No doubt Verizon will lower the price even more, something around $5 is where I predict the service taking off and Verizon being able to offset costs by selling your data.

If you could use the system without selling your privacy, $20/month would be a bargain.

Smart Outlets

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Description:

“With the Connect Sense Smart Outlet, controlling and monitoring the power usage in your home has never been easier. With the touch of a button or Siri Voice Control, the Apple Home Kit-enabled Smart Outlet gives you command of your home.The Smart Outlet features two internet-connected electrical sockets that enable users to control devices plugged into them using Siri Voice Control via their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The intuitive design of the Smart Outlet fits over any existing, standard North American electrical outlet and enables users to automate their home simply and securely. With brilliantly quick and easy installation, the Connect Sense Smart Outlet gives users greater command over their environment by allowing them to control and monitor their everyday plug-in devices, such as lights, fans, televisions and washing machines. The Smart Outlet features Apple Home Kit technology, which provides safe, end-to-end encryption. After installing the Connect Sense Smart Outlet, users can configure it from any compatible app with a just a few simple steps and create custom scenes to control their home settings. For example, users can create a scene to automatically turn off the lights, lock the doors, close the garage door and set the thermostat to the desired temperature in one simple step.”

Pros, Cons, and Mehs

Pros: Monitor electronics and turn off lights.

The Smart Outlet is good for monitoring usage from items like your TV, Washing Machine, etc. What you’ll do with that data is unclear, at least to me, but you’ll have it, and likely so will the company behind the app, ConnectSense.
You’ll also be able to turn off any lamps or devices plugged into the Smart Outlet with your voice via your iPhone.

Lastly, if you’re using Apple Home, you can connect this device with it and set up sequences. Perhaps you want to have a lamp automatically turn on whenever you engage the security system to discourage intruders? There’s lots of possibilities.

Con: Price.

$79 for the convenience of being able to shut off a lamp in the other room?

Meh: Split verdict.

The consensus on the Smart Outlet by ConnectSense seems to be split with users either giving it a full 5 stars or only 2 (good effort but just wasn’t there). Seems with a few upgrades, the Smart Outlet might be a staple of every home.

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Netflix Socks

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Description:

“Sometimes a show is so good, you just can’t stop. And the next thing you know, zzzzz. Netflix socks detect when you’ve dozed off and send a signal to your TV, automatically pausing your show. Never again will you binge-watch yourself to sleep, only to wake up two seasons later wondering what happened.”

Pros, Cons, and Mehs

Pro: Always know where you left off.

The socks detect when you’re no longer in the land of the living. Hopefully you’re just asleep, but either way, Netflix will stop exactly when you’ve dozed off.

Cons: A LOT of work.

This is a DIY project that involves knitting, programming and electrical engineering. ‘Nuff said.

Meh: No real user success stories. 

The person that is likely binge watching Netflix all day is probably not the same one that can whip up some DIY IoT device. That and, so far, all the news coverage appears to be from Netflix. I’m still waiting to see some real people that have made these socks. Maybe you can comment below if you’ve done it (or attempted it??)

Smart Candle

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Description:

Delite your life! -key features:
+ Remote control – Turn your Candle Light on and off directly from your phone.
+ Blow out – a little sensor reacts to air blown on the candle and turns it off and on
+ Direct connectivity – No gateways or hubs needed.
+ 16 million colors to choose from – Set your candle in your favourite color
+ Dimmable – set the mood in your home with your light brightness adjustable from 100 to 0%
+ Timer – Set your Candle Light to turn on or off automatically
+ SMS/Call alert – the Candle flashes several time when you receive a message or a call on your phone
+ Music Visualizer – color changing and syncing to the rhythm of music.
+ Proximity sensor – set the Candle Light to automatically turn on and off as you enter or leave the room
+++ Now supports Apple Watch
Supported Devices: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, iPhone 6plus, iPad4, iPad air, iPad air2, iPod5
System: iOS 8.0+ Android: 4.3+ Bluetooth 4.0 supported devices

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Pros, Cons, and Mehs

Pro: You can turn on or off a flameless candle with your phone (ios and android) and Apple Watch.

Con: Price, batteries and does not prevent your house from burning down.

Starting at $19.99 and requiring 4 AA batteries, this can began to add up quickly if you need to buy a few for a party.

Does not work with a real candle. A real candle will burn down your house if you leave it unintended and try to turn it off with the app.

Meh: You can turn on or off a flameless candle with your phone (ios and android) and Apple Watch.

Smart Piggy Bank

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Description:

• A piggy bank that syncs with an app that allows you to check your balance and set goals. It’s a full-on financial institution!
• Alerts are triggered by Porkfolio’s built-in accelerometer to protect your savings from shenanigans. All you’ll have to worry about is bringing home the bacon.
• While Porkfolio is adult friendly, it really shines when teaching the lil’ ones about money and responsibility. Piggy banks are way more fun when the Internet’s inside.

Pros, Cons, and Mehs.

Pro: Teaching tool.

This little piggy teaches kids about the importance of saving. Although your child won’t be able to count money themselves, they’ll know how to use a smartphone to count money. Just about the same thing.

Con: Subtle ‘racial microagressions’

With the Black Piggy setting you back $49.99 and the White Piggy costing less than half (only $22.53), this piggly wiggly may not be appropriate for the PC child in your life.

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Meh: Can be tricky to set up your piggy.

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Magic Light Bulb

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Description:

• ☀INFINITE POSSIBILITIES – One bulb, over 16 million supported colors plus warm and cool white. All at your fingertips. And every color is dimmable. Personalize your lighting to suite your needs.
• ☀SMARTPHONE CONTROLLED – Take control of your lighting from your smartphone or tablet. App allows you to control a single bulb, or group bulbs and control them together.
• ☀SCHEDULE ACTIONS – Schedule timers to turn your bulb on or off. Wake up in the morning to your favorite colors. Come home to a bright and well lit home. The possibilities are endless.
• ☀MUSIC SYNC & MIC – The Lights will sync to sound or music captured from external source – Pandora, Spotify, Youtube, TV or Your Voice etc . and you can choose from normal, Jazz, Rock or Classical settings to control the transitions. This is great if you want to relax and unwind after a long day, make your kids bedtime an enjoyable experience, or help kick start that party.
• ☀SIMPLE AND EFFICIENT – MagicLight Plus bulbs are simple to install and use. Simple screw in the bulb, power it on, download the free MagicLight app, and you have the next generation light bulb at your fingertips. And with a lifetime of 40,000 hours and comparable to a 60W incandescent bulb, you can save money while looking cool.

Pros, cons and mehs.

Pros: Excellent reviews and great for parties.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this IoT device. Everyone seems to love all it’s great features.

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Con: Price.

Somewhere, a lightbulb manufacturer wondered how to get his $1 lightbulbs to be cool again. Suddenly he realized, IoT! He didn’t know what IoT meant but just knew it was his solution. So, by making his lightbulbs “smart” and “connected” he could now sell them for much more money.

Even so, at $31.95 with free shipping from Amazon, it’s actually only about 30% more expensive than a comparable bulb that lasts 40,000 hours.

Meh. Bluetooth can be glitchy.

Only a few reviews mention glitchy Bluetooth protocol so it may just be a few bad apples.

Puppy Tweets

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Description:

“Tweets are the new Barks! Ever wonder what your pup is doing while you’re away? Well, now you can get the 411 with text messages from Puppy Tweets! Whenever your dog moves, barks (or just naps), the tag knows it and sends a WiFi signal to your computer which then sends you a Tweet via Twitter. Simply set up a Twitter page for your dog and your Puppy Tweets tag starts generating Tweets. Puppy Tweets comes pre-loaded with over 500 phrases that put a humorous or insightful spin on your dog’s daily activity. For example, a bark may generate a Tweet of: “I bark because I miss you. There I said it. Now hurry home.” A quick run through the house could produce: “I finally caught that tail I’ve been chasing and…OOUUUCHH!” Invite your friends and family to follow your pet on Twitter and help your dog follow his or her favorite puppy pals or celebrities. Puppy Twitter lets you connect with your pet over the Internet. It’s a great way to brighten your day ’cause a Tweet from your pooch is a virtual smooch!”

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Pros, Cons, and Mehs.

Pros: Cheap entertainment.

For only $20, you can get some quick, cheap thrills from seeing your pet tweet up a storm.

Cons: Not for small dogs and doesn’t work well.

Firstly, this item is only for medium or large dogs since the collar tag is enormous!

Then, as many of the reviews note, it doesn’t seem to be actually monitoring anything on your pet, instead, it just spouts out random tweets.

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Meh: Might be considered animal abuse. 

You get the satisfaction of forcing your dog to tweet you ALL DAY LONG for no cost. Without paying your pup for their work as a Social Media Manager (you know that’s a real job these days), you’re basically condoning animal abuse.

Snooperscope.

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Description:

• Snooperscope is the most exciting and professional portable Night Vision Scope for Smartphone and Tablets.
• For Wildlife Observers, Hunting & Fishing, Airsoft, Ghost Hunters, Camping: discover a world hidden by darkness and experience wildlife at night like you never have before.
• Capture amazing action in complete darkness with incredible movies and deliver in live streaming to your iPhone, iPad, Android device or laptop, without any internet connection or router. Compact and lightweight, with built-in battery and Wi-Fi, Snooperscope delivers clear images in complete darkness and colourful images in daylight, to provide you with the ideal portable monitoring solution.
• With Snooperscope you can take snapshots and HD videos, capable of recording locally on your smartphone or store on a SDCard, without requiring a PC or network storage device.
• Motion and sound activated, with the built-in microphone and speaker you can listen and talk as well view all the action. Simple setup and access to your scope from anywhere, no matter where you are.

Pros, Cons, and Mehs.

Pros: Snooping on your neighbor.

No one is safe in the cover of darkness. Although conveniently left off in the description, Snooperscope is the perfect gift for the peeping tom in your life. Who would honestly buy something with the word “snooper” in the title to go check out some wildlife?

Cons: Your neighbor snooping on you.

Those blinds you have? Yeah, use those during the night too. Especially during the night.

Meh: The price.

Honestly, the starting price of $159 plus $20 shipping just seems a bit on the steep side for the ability to snoop on your neighbor. If that’s your thing, I’m sure your neighbor will not thank me later – Amazon link

Bitedefender Box

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Description:

• Bitdefender BOX protects your home network and all devices connected to it from malware. Just like an antivirus for your home network. Not just for your computers. Everything. Once connected to the Internet, every device, even Smart TVs, smart appliances like fridges, thermostats or gaming consoles are vulnerable to malware that silently does its work. BOX protects everything else that’s in the home: PCs, Macs, Android and iOS tablets and phones alike.
• BOX uses Bitdefender technology to keep everything safe. Even from threats that come via USB sticks or portable storage devices. Local protection uses the best antivirus technology to take care of your PC, Mac or Android. With this extra layer of protection you are safe from both online and offline threats. Install Local Protection from the BOX app and you are all set!
• You can use the smart phone app to remotely install OS updates, identify vulnerabilities or system issues, make performance improvements and tune-ups, control mobile data roaming on family devices. All available in one app, at your fingertips, anywhere you are.
• The BOX protects your mobile devices so you can use Wi-Fi hotspots without being vulnerable to viruses, hackers and privacy thieves even when away from home. By enabling Private Line on your mobile devices you keep your Internet traffic safe and anonymous at the same time. Due to manufacturer restrictions, some features are available only for certain operating systems. Private Line may not work on some mobile operator networks. Private line traffic is subject to our fair usage policy rules.

Pros, Cons, and Mehs

Pro: If it works…

If it works as advertised, Bitboxdefender is supposed to replace all of your other Anti-virus options.

Con: Security might not be quite as tight as advertised and does not guard against dog bites. 

This product is supposed to replace anti-virus software. However, according to several tech-savvy reviewers, the way they “protect” your network and devices is questionable.

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Meh: Price.
$199 seems a lot to spend on a product that may (or may not) work properly.

Written by

Elizabeth is the Marketing Manager at PROTECH. Comments and feedback can be directed to her at elizabethb@protechfl.com.