By Jun Takayanagi
IoT (The Internet of Things) technology promises a completely new playing field in which almost anything can be connected to the web and set to transmit and receive data. The trend has now hit the home, with consumer electronics that may well be smarter than we are. Here are the most interesting IoT contraptions and smart gadgets set to change your life.
PLANTY, THE SMART POT
Just about everyone is responsible for the death of at least one house plant because they either weren’t home to take care of it or simply didn’t know how. But what if you had something that told you when the soil is too dry, when the plant is too cold or too hot, and if your green baby is getting enough natural light? With Planty, you can say goodbye to botanical blunders.
By hooking the Planty pot up to its smartphone app, you can confirm conditions at any time and even water the plant when you’re not at home. You can also share information with friends and family over the app, making for a communal growing experience, while it gives you constant pointers about how to take care of your plant. The future, it turns out, is bright green. ¥21,384. Available at Hands-Aid.
BLINCAM, THE WEARABLE CAMERA
Everyone wants to capture life’s most precious memories on camera, but the moment can be lost before you get your smartphone out of your pocket. Enter Blincam, a glasses-mounted camera which takes shots with the literal blink of the eye.
Inventor Shota Takase came up with the idea when he wanted to take natural, candid photos of his children – and made it happen via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Blincam hooks up to your phone via bluetooth, so you’ll never miss an unplanned photo opportunity again. ¥21,384. Manufactured by Blincam.
FAMILY HUB, THE FUTURISTIC FRIDGE
No longer do you need to stand in a supermarket wondering how many mushrooms are left in the fridge, or get up for breakfast only to find that you are out of milk. Samsung’s Family Hub is here and thanks to in-fridge cameras and self-scanning technology you can check up on stocks on the go or even let your chiller automatically order replacements when supplies run low.
There’s also a 21.5-inch, 1080p monitor that can show recipes, play your favourite cooking programme or pipe in music while you do the washing up. Set to go on sale in America first, the Family Hub’s Japan release date hasn’t been confirmed yet but when it does the future will have well and truly arrived. Price TBC. Manufactured by Samsung.
MORNIN’, THE ALARM CLOCK CURTAIN
When we are having trouble waking up in the morning or feel tired during the day, a common culprit is ‘sleep inertia’, caused by forcing ourselves suddenly out of deep sleep. Mornin’ aims to combat this through sunlight.
Installed onto any curtain rail, the device works by opening and closing curtains at times set via the integrated smartphone app. Rather than shocking yourself awake with sound, you’ll instead be gently nudged into consciousness by sunlight. Which sounds like a far more pleasant way to start the day. ¥3,985. Manufactured by Robit.
ALCHEMA, THE INTERACTIVE CIDER BARREL
In America, Alchema has won praise for democratising cider-making. Creating the perfect apple- or grape-based booze was once only possible with the knowledge and technique of a craftsman, but Alchema uses technology to automate the complex process. Just pick up an Alchema barrel, fill with water, ingredients and yeast, and then monitor and adjust the mixture with the settings in the app.
The sensors in the barrel take all of the vital data from the liquid inside, and users are notified of their progress through the app. It’s not clear if Japan’s strict home brewing laws will allow Alchema to turn Tokyo into a city of cider-makers, but plans are already in place to adapt the technology to make miso and other fermented foods. So be it musty bubbly or mung bean paste, home fermenting is here to stay. ¥42,120 (release date TBC). Manufactured by Alchema.
SOUND TABLE, THE MUSICAL DESK
Designed to declutter Tokyo’s cramped apartments, Sound Table packs the power of a state-of-the-art sound system into a stylish table. You can use the integrated smartphone app to set the table to play your favourite music at a predetermined time, or take advantage of the location info function to have it play the perfect song for the weather outside. ¥84,800 (plus tax). Manufactured by Kamarq.