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In a very short time, we’ve moved from pure speculation about the ways the Internet of Things (IoT) might change the world to witnessing the technologies underlying IoT actually being integrated into products and services. As 2016 unfolds, we can reflect on noteworthy advances in the IoT landscape that took place over the course of 2015. Among the more interesting milestones and new devices sparking interest in 2015, these five deserve a measure of recognition.
Home Voice-recognition Goes Mainstream
Amazon Echo: The smart home moved several steps closer to becoming commonplace with the release of the Echo, which offers voice control over home systems and the potential to move beyond novelty to deeper integration with the IoT. Amazon lists it in the Home Automation Controller category and as the already popular device becomes more common, expect to see other add-ons and enhancements. The connected car is also being primed to communicate with the connected smart home. Ford announced a partnership with Amazon during CES 2016 in Nevada in January to refine the technologies that enable vehicles to interconnect to the home using voice-recognition techniques developed for the Echo and leveraging SYNC® with MyFord Touch® voice commands. "Alexa, open the garage door, turn on the Red Sox game, and pour me a beer."
Drone Navigation By Hand Gestures
Imaginative uses of Intel® Edison: The compact computing capabilities of the Intel® Edison are generating imaginative innovations, as the race to connect all kinds of everyday devices to the Internet accelerates. One such device is the MyoDrone, a new twist on increasingly familiar drone applications. Myodrone flights are controlled by hand movements and gestures managed through Thalmic’s Myo armband. The on-board compute power of an Intel® Edison board is used to stream digital content. Once aloft, the MyoDrone can send captured images and video through Wi-Fi. Enterprising photographers and videographers are learning to take advantage of the visual impact of imagery relayed from a moving aerial platform to communicate storm damage after hurricanes and floods, natural landscapes from treetop level, cityscapes from an elevated perspective, and all manner of shots from new vantage points. Famed photographer Ansel Adams once said, "A good photograph is knowing where to stand." With gesture-controlled drones, it’s also knowing where your camera can fly.
MyoDrone features live media streaming by Intel® Edison.
The Smart Thermostat Gets Smarter (And Connected)
The Hive smart thermostat: Energy efficiency is a prime focus around the world these days and the Hive thermostat, designed to control everyday things in the connected home, is available in Ireland through Bord Gáis Energy. Consumers with a smartphone or simple SMS device can control the thermostat remotely and it also adapts to the schedules of home owners. Add-ons to the thermostat include various motion sensors and smart plugs, as well as upcoming smartphone-controlled lighting systems. Projections suggest savings of hundreds of dollars per year.
Sunglasses With Built-in Coaching
Radar Pace sunglasses: Jointly developed by Intel® and Luxottica and presented by Intel® CEO Brian Krzanich at CES 2016 as a prototype, the Oakley* Radar Pace sunglasses provide competitive bike riders with intelligent coaching based on linked sensors, voice control, and a range of data that is captured and assessed by the embedded, miniaturized computer. A production model is slated for release in late 2016.
Radar Pace sunglasses provide sensor-driven coaching.
Expanding Connectivity: IBM Watson Iot Platform
One of the long-term goals of the IoT vision, of course, is expanding connectivity across greater ranges of devices, breaking down communication barriers and expanding the scope of data exchange. The IBM Watson IoT Platform is opening opportunities for more extensive capabilities and additional functionality by providing recipes through the IBM developerWorks series. Two recent noteworthy recipes are Connect an Intel® Galileo to the IBM Watson IoT Platform Connect and Intel® Edison Watson IoT Recipe (using the Intel® XDK IoT Edition development environments). IBM continues to draw developers and businesses into its cognitive-computing ecosystem through the Watson Developer Cloud and open platform model.
The cycle of IoT innovation goes on, with many product ideas arising out of Kickstarter campaigns and then getting adopted and manufactured by mainstream companies. We’ll watch with interest as bright ideas manifest as new inventive products throughout 2016.
 Kao, Christopher. 2015. "Edison’s MyoDrone." Devpost. http://devpost.com/software/edison-s-myodrone