You pull into your driveway, put your car in park, and close the garage. At this point, you fumble for your keys, feel along the wall for the light switches, and adjust the thermostat — but what if your door unlocked, lights turned on, and the house was set to a comfortable temperature before you even walked through the door? This is the very near future: the Internet of Things.
It's a vague, silly, overly wrought term that describes the post-smartphone age of technology, an era where we use the computers in our pockets to control the world around us.
Over the last few years, companies have used International CES to show off all types of Internet-connected hardware: the usual suspects like phones, tablets, and PCs, but also TVs, thermostats and smoke alarms, not to mention cars, refrigerators, lightbulbs, and yes, even Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes. It exists, therefore it is connected to the Web.
But after every device we own has been hooked up to the Internet, what then? Companies this year took to the CES show floor to show how our smart gadgets can flawlessly talk to each other to fully automate our lives.
But in the past, each Internet-connected gadget had its own app and existed in its own world. This year, companies are focused on creating a universal remote for your smart home. Samsung and LG, which both make a slew of smart appliances, announced all-encompassing apps at CES that connect your TVs to your refrigerators to your lighting.
But few people are devoted to one company's products, so this year we also saw services that connect devices from a plethora of different companies. Revolv, for instance, is a hub lets you control your Nest thermometer, your Philips Hue lightbulbs, Yale locks, and your Sonos speakers from one app.
Revolv can speak to all of your devices using seven wireless radios that speak 10 wireless languages. The fact that Samsung and LG are finally allowing you to communicate with all of your gadgets is great, but Revolv's solution is even better, because no one owns only Samsung or LG home gear. After you sync your myriad of devices to the $299 Revolv Hub, the company's GeoSense technology can tell when your iPhone moves in and out of range of your home. You customize the actions Revolv will take when you leave the house or pull in the garage — unlocking your door and turning on music when you get out of your car or turning off your lights and heat when you walk outside. SmartThings, another CES exhibitor, has a similar hub and app setup that lets you program custom triggers.
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