IoT creations we love: A Valentine’s Day special

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It’s love, but not as we know it. Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us and this year we’ll be staring doe-eyed at our favourite IoT creations. There’s a little something for everyone, from cognitive candy dispensers and a Valentine’s IoT recipe for the loved-up, to life-changing tech designed to make a difference.

One for the lovers

While I’ve no intention of turning all gooey on you, I would like to share one rather sweet IoT recipe: a connected little paper heart that lights up when it receives a love-note. Aww. The idea is that you can send a message from your phone over the internet, which is picked up by the Wi-Fi-connected electronic heart, which in turn lights up and performs a little dance for your loved one.

Fancy having a go at making it? Check out Romin Irani’s step-by-step instructions and see it in action in the video below:

Something sweet

Fancy something sweet? You’ll have to ask nicely. Cognitive Candy is a voice activated virtual assistant for makers and developers that can be programmed to do a whole host of things – including dispensing candy. Cognitive Candy can respond to polite requests and reward the asker with a sugary treat. But it can be programmed to do much more than just dispense sweets. IBM Watson IoT engineer Igor Ramos, maker of Cognitive Candy, describes the device as an open platform designed to help makers and developers play with AI, cloud computing and the IoT. Its pleasing interface makes it a favourite educational tool for kids too.

Something silly

Having become fed up with buying countless brolly replacements, I’m a big fan of this smart umbrella, seen at CES this year. It sends a distress call to your smartphone when left behind, so you can go back and fetch it before it’s swiped by someone else. It’s also pretty eye-catching, so you’d be hard pushed to misplace it.

Something virtual

If you think VR headsets are old hat, try these virtual reality shoes. They replicate the sensation of different textures underfoot, like walking on sand or through a puddle, through a series of eerily realistic vibrations. Just remember to wear socks if you’ll be sharing them with other folks.

My favourite VR toy so far is this virtual reality booth, which allows users to play VR video games with no need for a headset. That means no wires, so you’re free to move as you please, dodging, ducking and jumping over virtual obstacles to win points. As you can still see your body in the virtual space there’s a real sense of connection to the physical world, but you still get the immersive VR experience. This kind of set-up with its unencumbered movement could work well for sports games, so there’s plenty of potential for development.

Something smelly

Imagine being able to release many and varied odours into the ether whenever you pleased.  It sounds like something Roald Dahl might dream up: smells for all occasions! Neutralize your dog’s farts at the touch of a button! Soothe your nerves instantly with a calming concoction! Despite the seemingly magical properties of such a device, it is actually a real thing, and it goes by the name of Aromacare’s smart aromatherapy diffuser. The diffuser works like an espresso machine for essential oils, which are stored in capsules and can be released at will via a smartphone or tablet. Each colour-coded capsule contains a separate oil, each serving a specific purpose, so if you find drifting off to sleep a challenge, you can programme the ‘sleep’ capsule to activate during the night in case of insomnia. There isn’t actually a fart neutralizing capsule (yet), but I can dream.

Something awesome

At CES this year, Changhong unveiled their H2 smartphone – the first phone with a built-in spectrometer, which can tell you the chemical composition of any object simply by scanning it, whether food, medication or even body parts. The infra-red spectrometer captures data from an item and uploads it to a cloud database, where it’s broken down into an itemized list for easy on-screen viewing. Scan a chicken breast, for example, and you’ll be able to see the amount of protein, fat, and calories therein. The H2 will be available this summer in China, but the rest of us will have to wait a bit longer.

Something life-changing

I want to finish with something that could have an extraordinary impact on the lives of people with impaired mobility. Hyundai has made a line of robotic suits designed to help paraplegic patients regain their ability to walk. The exoskeleton is a wearable suit controlled by buttons on the crutch handle and a motor within the suit itself. The wearer leans forward and slightly away from the leg they want to move and the motor does the rest. The company has also expanded into a range of suits designed for older people, and another to help take the strain out of heavy lifting.

Which are the IoT inventions you love? Let us know in the comments below!

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