THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT) is not something we can hide from, especially behind the sofa. The term itself is vague, sweeping and perhaps overused, but it's documenting the general shift of the technology industry as everyone and everything takes advantage of a constant internet connection, including the things inside the place you spend most of your time: the home.
As everyday devices increasingly find their way online, we have seen a plethora of 'things' around the home becoming smarter - mainly owing to a new-found ability to connect to the internet - or a number of things you'd not usually find in the home making their way there owing to advances in technology making them cheaper and more accessible.
But which are the best IoT devices out there to get your humble abode kicked into the 21st century? Here are some of our favourites ...
Philips Hue and Hue Tap
Controlled by mobile devices via a WiFi bridge that hooks up to an internet router, the Philips Hue comprises a group of LED lightbulbs that allow users to control the colour of lighting in home or office environments for different moods, all via a mobile device.
Hue has been available since 2012 so is by no means new, but it's still one of our favourite IoT gadgets as well as being a brilliant home automation tool. Hue is by far the best way to make any environment reflect your desired mood, whether you're feeling relaxed or energetic, at the touch of a button.
A great accompaniment to Hue is Hue Tap, a £50 add-on released more recently which the company claims is the first kinetic-powered, web-enabled light switch.
Hue Tap needs no batteries or mains power as it operates using kinetic energy, simply through taps from your finger. So, if you don't like getting out of bed or off the sofa to adjust the lights, this gadget is right up your street.
MyFox is the latest smart home security system to hit the UK, and it's also one of our favourites so far.
The system comprises four bits of kit: the MyFox Home Alarm (£249); the MyFox Security Camera (£169); the MyFox IntelliTAG (£40); and the MyFox Key Fob (£25). All together, these guard a home and its possessions by preventing a potential break-in before it happens while protecting the user's privacy.
The different elements of the system work together to record any strange occurrences in the home by detecting movement and sounds and notifying the home owner via the app, from where it can be controlled centrally. It also allows home owners to invite trusted friends and neighbours to access the security system and alert them via a text message if there is an intrusion.
MyFox's IntelliTAG door/window system uses vibration sensors to distinguish between a knock and a forced entry, and the key fob is a quick and easy way to turn the system off if a false alarm is raised, or to disarm it when the user is at home.
However, our favourite feature is the ability to talk through the camera to an intruder - or to friends as a joke - and act like God.
We are also fans of the sleek design of the system; it fits in nicely with most homes while looking discreet and non-intrusive. Set-up is fast and requires no drilling or wiring.
Raumfeld WiFi speaker system
German audio firm Raumfeld specialises in multi-room streaming systems, letting you play audio files, online music services and internet radio via their built-in Wi-Fi.
Aimed at the audiophile, and recently launched in the UK, Raumfeld's product line comprises a range of streaming speakers that vary in size depending on your needs; whether that's boom boxes for large rooms, or something a little more compact.
High-quality, clean and minimal designs mean the speakers look great in the home, and users can add as many speakers as they like to the system, and control it all via the Raumfeld app.
The sound is among the best we've heard from any multi-room speaker system, with solid bass levels that don't feel overpowering, and a nice rich tone. If you want a great-sounding streaming speaker system without splashing out too much, Raumfeld is the one.
The Google-owned Nest home automation firm announced a host of minor updates to its IoT product family earlier this year, including the renowned thermostat, security camera and smoke detector, building on the popularity they have enjoyed since hitting the UK in 2014.
One of the main updates was to the Dropcam security device, renaming it Nest Cam (£159), which we have been having lots of fun with since.
The update means that it now has 1080p video quality for high-definition playback of home recordings, and a fancy stand with a magnetic base that flexes in different positions for more surreptitious spying in less conventional locations. It also has improved night vision for a better chance of catching those pesky thieves of the night.
Not forgetting the good old Nest Thermostat (£249) and Nest Protect (£89) smoke alarm products, which remain the best in their class in terms of smart home money-saving and safety devices.
The latest Nest Protect is a particular highlight owing to its slimmer and more compact design which now features a split spectrum sensor so that it can more accurately tell the difference between burning toast and burning skin. It will also alert users via smartphone more quickly if it senses something is going terribly wrong, like their house has burned to the ground.
If home security on a budget is what you want, look no further than Piper NV. This simple all-in-one home security system is much cheaper than competing products while still doing a great job.
The video monitoring and home automation device lets you stay connected to your home wherever you are via the Piper app, where you can view a live HD stream of your home. It also includes a clever motion and sound detector to alert you when something out of the ordinary happens.
This new version includes 180-degree night vision, which claims to be the widest field of view on the market, and advanced camera resolution. It's a pretty good package for the price.
Piper is also available with a range of Z-Wave home automation accessories to control lights and appliances remotely, either scheduling them to go off at a set time or based on environmental factors such as light levels changing, or when you open your front door.
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