Gift guide: Internet of Things products by local companies
Publication: The Denver Post
If you’re shopping local this year, Denver-area startups have IoT products from door locks to Star Wars toys
From fancy door locks to sprinkler systems, Denver-area companies are figuring out new ways to live smarter with the Internet by making things. Lots of things. The Internet of Things is a trend to build Internet connections into everyday objects to help people track and control those objects. Common IoT devices include light bulbs, watches and home thermostats such as Nest. There’s even a new home-grown IoT community called TechRiot, backed by Arrow Electronics and the Innovation Pavilion in Centennial. What started as a meeting among interested IoT developers in July has grown to more than 1,000 members. That just gives us more gift options. If you’re shopping local this year, here is a roundup of Internet-friendly products from local IoT companies:
Sphero BB-8 droid
Boulder’s toy-robot maker hit it big this fall with its rolling droid blessed by Star Wars. The new droid debuts in the upcoming “The Force Awakens.” Sphero’s version does not have the same personality — at least not yet. Because it’s IoT, BB-8 gets updates through a mobile app. Once the movie comes out, more personality updates are expected, as only an IoT toy can offer. The BB-8 is $149.99 at sphero.com/starwars.
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
Denver’s Rachio has helped people conserve millions of gallons of water by adjusting their sprinkler systems online. The smart controller, which is built in Colorado, can handle up to 16 zones, so each spot of landscape can have a custom watering schedule based on slope, time and sprinkler nozzle. The system takes weather into account and can delay watering if rain or wind is in the forecast. It works with other smart products, such as the Nest Protect smoke alarm, so Rachio can turn on the sprinklers if it senses smoke nearby. And being IoT, it’s all controlled online via an app. Systems start at $249 at rachio.com.
Beacon of Honor
Do you know a veteran with a story to share? Beacon of Honor, a Highlands Ranch nonprofit group, creates virtual memorials at physical locations. Using Bluetooth beacons from Denver’s PlaceApp, these IoT devices can be attached to a veteran’s memorial and linked to audio, video or stories stored online. A passer-by with the PlaceApp app gets a notification on the phone and can listen or watch the veteran’s story on the phone. Beacon of Honor is using Indiegogo’s crowdfunding site to sell beacons, starting at $74. PlaceApp also sells beacons to create your own IoT universe, starting around $30 plus service. More details at beaconofhonor.org.
This Denver IoT company sells little sensor modules that add intelligence to existing products around the home. Notion calls its lineup “Home Awareness, Simplified.” Put the sensors throughout the house, and if they detect a leaking pipe, an open door or a smoke detector set off, the system notifies you through a mobile app so you can take action, even if you’re miles away. Products are now available for the holidays. Kits start at $129 at GetNotion.com.
A different kind of toy aimed at younger children might get 4-year-olds to think about how toys work. Boulder’s Modular Robotics built these cubes with personality — one rolls, one tracks light, one detects how far it is from another object. There are 17 types of Cubelets, and they connect magnetically so there are no tiny loose parts. The company also just added a new operating system, Bluetooth cube and mobile app that allows children to adjust what these blocky robots will do — or won’t. A new 12 pack sells for $329.95 at modrobotics.com.
Denver’s LockState is one of several companies building IoT door locks, but the company differs from the others by using Wi-Fi (instead of Bluetooth) and focusing on commercial customers. Individual consumers can still buy the new RemoteLock 6i, which will text temporary key codes to guests and notify you when someone unlocks the front door. The system starts at $249.95 at remotelock.com.
This isn’t an IoT product per se, but SparkFun Electronics sells all the sensors, wireless gizmos and tech components needed to build your own IoT device. The tech-education-friendly Niwot retailer also offers detailed instructions, tips and videos. Plus, everything comes in a snazzy red box. See the catalog at sparkfun.com.