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Years ago, futurists imagined a world where everything was connected to the Internet. The idea has sputtered forward since it was first conceived. But if this year's annual International Consumer Electronics Show tells us anything, it's that the so-called Internet of Things is here in full force. At this year's show, dozens of vendors unveiled a range of gadgets that can be controlled via websites or smartphone apps or both. Think toothbrushes, dog collars, smoke alarms, crockpots and automobiles. Here we look at a few of our favorites.
Sony CEO Kunimasa Suzuki displays the company's latest fitness band, the Core. Just about everyone and their uncle is jumping into fitness band craze. The wearable bands have sensors that track a runner's or walker's steps, monitor pulse rate and even a person's sleep. Although many showed up at CES without the corresponding smartphone app, they're coming and consumers will soon be able to chose a fitness band especially for them.
Each FootLogger insole from 3L Labs has eight pressure sensors and an accelerometer that turns any shoe into a health monitor. Wearers can track their fitness activity as well as stride -- a metric that could come in handy for older folks with walking issues.
This interactive cooktop from Whirlpool turns a kitchen surface into a stovetop. The Internet connection allows any cook to find recipes, look up cooking tips and post photos of the final dish on social networking sites.
Belkin introduced its Crock-Pot WeMo Slow Cooker, which allows users to control and monitor cooking times and temperatures via a smartphone.
Nest Labs, who released a thermostat in 2011, introduced the Smoke + Carbon Monoxide detector. This alarm gives talking alerts, illuminates hallways and delivers notifications to smartphones or tablets. Other companies including Honeywell and Allure Energy, showed off voice-activated Internet-connected thermostats.
The Kolibree toothbrush has a sensor that detects how much tartar is being removed and records brushing activity so users can maintain a consistent cleaning each time. Because like all of these products, it connects to the Internet, it's able to convey brushing information to a smartphone app. That could be good for parents who want to monitor their kids' teeth cleaning efforts.
Several carmakers including Audi, Chevrolet, GM and more are joining Ford by embedding high-speed, wireless 4G technology into their cars. Audi and Chevrolet specifically are teaming up with AT&T to offer onboard Internet connectivity. Passengers can access video, radio, news and social media over the car's built-in Wi-Fi connection.
Parrot, who showed off their AR.Drone at CES back in 2010, this year presented the MiniDrone, which comes with clip-on wheels that allow it to drive as well as fly. The wheels also protect it if it bumps into furniture. Users control it via an app through Bluetooth Low Energy instead of Wi-Fi.
Orbotix already has fun app-controlled balls, but their latest Sphero 2B is upping the ante. The tubular robot has interchangeable wheels, tires and hubcaps designed for rumbling up to 10 miles per hour over a variety of terrain.
The Voyce dog collar is a fitness tracker for your furry friend. An accelerometer tracks Fido's activity and inactivity, calculating calories burned. It also uses a built-in radio frequency device to measure heart rate and respiration. Owners can upload data about their pet's health to a website or share it with vets or on social networking websites.
The Babolat Play is the world's first connected tennis racquet. Sensors on the handle collect information about the player's swing, power, endurance, technique and ball impact and then send it to an app. Players can use those data points to adjust their play and improve their skill.
Apple’s rumored iWatch is one of the most hotly anticipated devices in years, and the whispers keep coming. The latest report claims that Apple’s wearable will come in two sizes and debut in the third-quarter of 2014.
According to MacRumors, Kuo predicts the iWatch will be available with either a 1.3-inch or 1.5-inch flexible AMOLED display covered with a sapphire lens.
Inside, the watch may pack biometric scanners, an NFC chip and 200 to 250 mAh battery with wireless charging capabilities. Pricing for the iWatch, the report indicates, could reach as high as $1,000 for high-end models. Kuo's predicted time-frame for the iWatch's release date matches up with a separate report that also claimed the watch would land in the third-quarter of this year. The same report also pegged the watch as having a sapphire lens. MORE: 10 Killer Features for The Apple iWatch
If Kuo's rumors are correct, they would signal two major changes to Apple's hardware offerings, the use of NFC and wireless charging. Prognosticators have been suggesting that Cupertino would implement both technologies in its iPhone and iPad for years, though Apple has never done so.
In addition to his iWatch predictions, Kuo also offered his thoughts on Apple's rumored iPhone 6, saying that the handset will come in two sizes, 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The 4.7-inch version will reportedly sport a 1334 x 750-pixel display, while the 5.5-inch phone will feature a 1920 x 1080p screen. Both smartphones will be powered by Apple's A8 processor and include NFC capabilities. According to Kuo, the 4.7-inch model will launch in Q3 2014, while the 5.5-inch version will hit stores in late Q4.
The analyst also claims that Apple will launch a new iPad Air and new iPad mini with Retina display in the third-quarter of 2014. Both tablets, Kuo said will get Cupertino's Touch ID fingerprint sensor and A8 processors. Apple's rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Kuo said, will also hit stores this year and feature a touchpad.
Finally, Kuo says Apple will launch its new Apple TV this year complete with a new app store and motion controls, as well as new 12-inch MacBook Air with a high-resolution display.
Many of the aforementioned rumors have been floating around the Web for weeks and even months, so it's unclear if Kuo is simply banking on those being correct, or if he has his own source that is in tune with Apple's product plans. With the company's WWDC 2014 coming up in early June, we'll just have to wait to fine out.
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