It seems that “smart” has become the hot buzzword for the current decade, but talk of smart devices doesn’t have to be restricted to smartphones like the Google Nexus 4 and tablets like the iPad Mini. There are an increasingly large number and variety of smart devices flooding the market, getting you to rethink some of the electronics and gadgetry that you may have once taken for granted.
You might remember our list of gadgets for a smarter office, for example. The Smart Strip Power Strip is an example of being pretty darn smart without having to turn to touchscreens, but let’s face it, we love our apps and that’s a big focus on what it means to be a smart device. Let’s get beyond the apps on our smartphones and see where else we can be smarter.
More and more people are sharing their random photos through services like Instagram, but the cameras on smartphones may not yet be ready to replace our real cameras just yet. At the same time, regular point-and-shoots don’t typically have the apps and connectivity of our smartphones. Finding some common middle ground are smart cameras like the Nikon Coolpix S800c and the Samsung Galaxy Camera. They may look like consumer-friendly point-and-shoots, but they’ve got big touchscreen and Android under the hood. Sharing on Facebook or Twitter is easier than ever.
I’d venture to say that most of our homes and offices are set up with some wireless Internet connectivity, but we’ve come to treat our wireless routers are simple appliances. You set them up once, shove them in the corner, and just expect them to work. Going further are newer products like the Linksys EA6500 smart router. In addition to super fast 802.11ac tech, this smart router is also opening itself up to a family of smart “Cloud Connect” apps for better control over your network. You can access nearly everything through your smartphone, including guest access and parental controls.
Just like the wireless router, the printer has also become one of those product categories that hasn’t done all that much in terms of innovation for a while. You hit CTRL+P, you print your TPS reports, and you call it a day. However, smart printers are definitely making some headway, in addition to services like Google Cloud Print that connect your printers to the web and let you print from anywhere in the world. You can even share your printers like how you would share an online document. Printers can be smart devices too.
You may have noticed the huge push in the last few years toward smart televisions that do more than passively accept a signal from your cable box or game system. LG Smart TVs, as well as those from companies like Samsung and Sony, are integrating a wide variety of web-connected apps that are meant to extend the TV experience. You can watch Netflix without the need for a separate set top box. You can tweet and update Facebook right from the TV. You can have an AP news ticker running across the bottom of the screen while you play Street Fighter on your Xbox. The interfaces still aren’t as good as our smartphones and tablets yet, but they’re getting there.
We’ve already talked about this in the post about gadgets for a smarter home, but they’re worth revisiting. There are smart fridges with touchscreens and apps, which can actually be useful for grocery management and recipe look-ups. There are smart stoves and other appliances that can connect to the web, get new firmware, and actually gain new cooking programs to let you be a better chef. The kitchen is another room in your home can benefit from getting smarter.
No, I’m not talking about the Smart Fortwo and the rest of the Smart Car family of vehicles. Instead, I’m talking about the push toward having smarter cars. This could be as simple as replacing the stereo with something that can connect directly to Pandora, for example, but it can go further. Ford is working on smarter self-diagnostics apps for scheduled maintenance and improved driving performance. Fiat has a Blue&Me partnership with Microsoft for better connectivity between cars and mobile devices. Your car is already really complicated, but smart apps could let you tap into that and create a more personalized experience.
Image credit: vernieman / Flickr