Christmas gifts and IoT: The best products for an early adopter

By | 4 minute read | December 1, 2016

Christmas stockings

It’s coming! Christmas is coming! The stores have been busting out the festive hits since Halloween, and it’s time to get cracking with gift-buying. Stuck for inspiration? Fear not. The connected Christmas list is here (Santa’s gone hi-tech) with gift ideas for the gadget lovers among your nearest and dearest.

Gifts for the gadget lover

Star Wars fans might enjoy the Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App controlled robot. It’s a big name for a little guy, but he does warrant the title. BB-8 recognises and responds to your voice, can record and view virtual holographic videos, and moves as directed by your smartphone. The really cool thing about the BB-8 is that its personality evolves as it interacts with you – and it has a mind of its own too – so there’s an unpredictable element to keep things interesting. Pick one up for £129.99 / $149.99.

Gifts for the forgetful

Here’s one for the friend who’s forever losing their keys. Or their phone. Or their wallet. Tile is a weeny Bluetooth tracker / smartphone app combo that attaches easily to everyday bits and bobs to help you find them. The individual Tiles come in sticky and hookable varieties and make a nice loud ringing sound when activated by your smartphone to direct you to your lost items. The app will show the Tile’s last known position on a map too. If it’s your smartphone that’s missing, just press the button on your Tile to make your phone ring (even if it’s on silent.) A pack of four retails at £85. 

Gifts for cooks

The Drop scale (£59.95 / $79.95) is a Bluetooth-enabled kitchen scale and recipe app combo that’s a great gift for clueless cooks – or just those who want to broaden their culinary horizons. The app comes with hundreds of free, interactive recipes, and guides you through them step-by-step, while the connected scale can make adjustments to the quantities needed depending on what you have available, or how many people you’re cooking for. 

Gifts for pet-lovers

This one is a life-saver for pet owners whose commitments call them away from their furry friends. Or, ya know, scaly soulmates, if snakes are more your bag than hamsters. Unless your employer happens to be unusually enlightened, bringing Fluffy into the office is probably frowned upon, but now there’s a way of checking on, and even playing games with him from afar. Enter Petcube (£145) – a tiny, connected cube complete with camera, motion sensors and laser toy that you can control from an iPhone. Two-way audio even allows for chit chat with your pets, assuming they’re conversationally inclined, and you can see them up close thanks to video monitoring and a handy zoom function. You can also be alerted to any major events at home thanks to the motion and sound sensors – so you know your pets are safe when you can’t be there to look after them.

Gifts for the sporty

Why play basketball when you can play connected basketball. Yep, you heard right. Connected basketball, baby. Wilson (who released their connected football earlier this year) have brought out the world’s first smart basketball, that analyses your playing technique and stats to help improve your game. This clever clogs can track your shots on any court, work out field goal percentage and range and comes with a Buzzer Beater mode – one of four game modes – that challenges you to score points against the clock. It’s regulation size and weight, naturally. Get your mitts on one for $199.99.

For cyclists (whether sporting or commuter), there’s BeeLine (£99) – a smart navigation system for bikes that sits on your handlebars and provides a refreshing alternative to frantic map-checking every few metres. BeeLine won’t give you turn-by-turn instructions, but it will tell you which way to head and how far to go. It’s a bit like a compass that always points the direction you want to go in. This leaves cyclists free to take turns when they feel able to, not when the god of GPS decrees it. If this all feels a bit vague, don’t worry, you can add intermediate way points (such as a specific bridge to cross) to your journey to help you stay on track. 

Gifts for jet-setters

A tad up-market perhaps, but the Bluesmart carry-on suitcase is pretty super-duper and full of connected awesomeness. It comes with a battery charger (fear no more the dying smartphone), location tracker (when the airline loses your bag, you’ll know exactly where it is), digital scale (no more guesswork on the bathroom scales) and remote lock, which automatically locks your case the moment it leaves your side. On the aesthetic front, there’s a handy easy-access front compartment for laptop, tablet and other electronics to help you speed through security. At £399, this may not be one for a casual acquaintance.

Have we missed something?

There are more and more IoT gadgets and gifts available as the world embraces the Internet of Things. These are just some of our favourites, but we’d love to hear your ideas too. Found some IoT-enabled stocking-fillers? Shout about them in the comments below, and keep an eye out for our next Christmas gift post: tech presents for under £35.