Connected Gadgets: Best Bets to Expand Your Reach

Smartphones are great, tablets are useful, and even desktop computers remain a critical part of the personal device ecosystem. But people want more, and technological advancements are now allowing device manufacturers to deliver a new kind of consumer experience. Here are five of the most interesting connected gadgets on the market and in development.

1. Phillips Hue

Ever wanted more control over your lights than just “on” and “off”? Phillips is betting that’s the case with Hue, a wireless LED bulb system that lets you control the color and brightness of the lights inside and outside your home with the tap of a finger. Using Hue’s mobile app, you can tune white lights to the brightness and “warmth” you want, or use images from your phone as a color palette. Like what you see? Save the “scene” for later use. You can program the system to turn lights on or off when you’re not at home, or activate them remotely. It’s also possible to create light-based wake-up alarms and use pulses of light to remind you that dinner’s done cooking or a television show is starting. Users can customize schedules using IFTTT, a free service that lets you create “recipes” to activate lights when you receive an e-mail or the weather changes.

2. Lockitron

The Lockitron is a door-mounted device that lets you control access with your smartphone or tablet. It fits over existing locks and doesn’t prevent physical key use, meaning you won’t catch flak from the landlord or cause any damage when it’s removed. It’s simple: log into the app and touch the unlock button to open the door. Forget to lock it on the way out? No problem. Lock it from anywhere. What’s more, you can set up Lockitron to unlock automatically when you and your device arrive home. Using low-power Bluetooth technology, the device recognizes you and opens the door when you’re near. You can also share the app with friends and family, giving them access to your home if you’re away without the need to transfer keys.

3. ToD

The idea here is to extend your reach and ensure that the important things—such as pets or children—don’t get lost. Tod (pronounced Toad) is a coin-sized device powered by a watch battery that can be easily slipped into a pocket, hung off a collar, or attached to your luggage. Using Tod’s “Link” service, you can connect your phone and the tag to ensure you always know exactly where important people or items have gone. Set a maximum allowable range and then get automatic notifications if the Tod goes farther. Kids playing at the park? Give them a Tod and let them run free. If they get too far away, you’ll get a notification and the ability to track them using your smartphone.

4. Bruvelo Coffee Maker

Currently in the Kickstarter fundraising phase, the Bruvelo coffer maker project aims to give coffee aficionados what they’ve been hoping for: smart, wireless caffeine. In addition to all the standard high-end coffee machine elements—burr grinder, carbon block water filter, and weight scale—the Bruvelo also comes with wi-fi connectivity and a mobile app that lets you define flavor profiles, set favorite brews, and remind you if you walked away without putting a cup under the brewer.

5. MOTA Smart Ring

Like wearable technology? MOTA, which released a smart bracelet in 2013, recently announced a smart ring that will notify you of new text messages, e-mails, and incoming calls, in addition to new Twitter or Facebook notifications. Available in midnight black and pearl white, the device will be compatible with both Android and iOS platforms and let you set up specific vibration patterns when smartphone contacts call. The device is scheduled to ship later this year.

These are just a few of the connected gadgets able to extend the reach of your smartphone or tablet and give you control over everything from lighting and locks to location and even liquids.

What’s your favorite new connected gadget?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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