The Best Smart Products of 2012
The year 2012 marks a coming-of-age for physical devices that are designed for a connected world. Created with digital at their core, these products are not “digitally enhanced” or merely gadgets for Dad on Father’s Day (although some could be). They are truly useful, elegantly designed, and in the case of the consumer products, are things that once you start using, it’s hard to imagine life without them.
This latest crop of digital products truly improves the way we live—from helping you get healthier, to saving energy, and even helping those who help others, like first responders. Here are a few of my favorites that were released this year, along with a couple that were just announced. The year 2013 will be an interesting test to see how these products fare in the marketplace, and with New Year’s optimism, I’m very much looking forward to it.
Phillips Hue solves a problem that we all face at some point: terrible lighting. Hue is a wireless system of connected multi-color LED bulbs that can be controlled by your iPhone or iPad, and programmed to fit your schedule. What’s cool about Hue is that it offers more than just improved ambiance for college stoners. You can create settings for practical purposes, like leaving a lamp on when you’re away and slowly turning the lights on to wake up in the mornings. And it works with your existing light fixtures.
[Full disclosure: I worked on the Fuelband, so believe what you want from the words that follow.] Nike+ Fuelband is part-tracking device, part-watch and part-fashion accessory. It tracks your activity throughout the day, and helps you get healthier by setting daily goals that are visualized on the band itself and through an iPhone or Android app. What excites me about the Fuelband is that wearable computing—the nerdy academic term for smart, wearable products—has finally become a reality for the everyperson, not just cyborgs and New York University ITP students (and since I’m telling you everything, yes I went there).