Late Summer’s Best & Worst of the IoT

Related: Cox, TiVo Make An IP Connection

Summer is on the wane, so we (Sara Dirske, who runs our little IoT/OTT lab in Denver, and I) thought it timely to recap our summer’s research into the Internet of Things, again along two digestible prisms. One is, very simply, “plausible.” The other? “Yeah, no thanks.”

Let’s start with the Bin-Cam, from Newcastle University. It’s a “smart” trashcan — where “smart” means an iPhone affixed to the underside of the lid. The trash-cam photographs your rubbish, then send the photos to a human for analysis. (This all happens via Amazon Mechanical Turk, which is crowd-sourced analysis by anybody who’s not a machine.)

Everything you throw away gets analyzed by somebody, somewhere. You’re scored on how wasteful you are and if you improve over time. Better yet: BinCam uses Facebook to display and share data about your trash(y) life!

Note to BinCam: Yeah, no thanks. Shame-based motivation is never a winner here.

Moving on to AVG’s Invisibility Glasses, perfect for the “selfie-averse” people in your digital life. The special sauce is the LEDs embedded in the frames. When activated (“hold on a sec, I have to turn on my invisibility glasses”), facial-recognition software has a harder time identifying them.

Because some things naturally bee-line to lines from Caddyshack, we offer this to the AVG Invisibility Glasses: “Looks good on you, though!”

Travel a lot and worry about how much your four-legged comrades miss you? Meet the ICPooch — a pet-treat dispenser outfitted with a video screen (with audio, duh), so that you can video coo to your critters while you’re away. Decision: Plausible.

(Note: ICPooch was invented by 13-year-old Brooke Martin of Spokane, Wash., and raised about $30,000 on its $20,000 Kickstarter goal. Go Brooke Martin!)

But let’s get back to trash cans — evidently fertile territory for Internet-connectedness. BigBelly’s solar-powered trashcans track how full they are, then communicate their relative heft to the ground fleet, for more efficient pickup routing. Decision: Plausible.

When you reach the (hell)dercare phase of life — and may it never happen to you — a big part of the work detail is making sure medications get taken, often from thousands of miles away. The automated health marketplace is rife with smart pill bottles, but the newest from AdhereTech got our attention, because of the feature load.

The bottles themselves contain a wireless module and sensors on the cap to measure humidity and weight. That way, it knows exactly how many pills (or liquids) remain.

When your elder charges forget to take their meds, the bottle does one of several things. Our favorite is the embedded, glowing strip: Green, you’re good! Pink, time for your meds! Or, phone calls happen, in a prescribed round robin. Caregiver first; son second, daughter third, and so on. (Note: The batteries only last 45 days, so, put that in the care log to recur every month and a half.)

For the diabetics among us, and especially those with Type I Diabetes (which requires continuous glucose measurement), Sara’s in deep like with the Dexcom Share. It’s a smart continuous glucose monitor (GCM), with Bluetooth.

Dexcom is comprised of three elements: A transmitter, disposable sensors that sit under the skin and a receiver that calculates and displays glucose levels. Levels are also sent to a smartphone app, including the Apple Watch and health app. Because getting too low can be disastrous, the machine can share trend graphs and high/low alerts with up to five followers.

This is a big deal (as Sara can personally attest) because diabetes technology tends to lag behind. Until now, it was particularly hard to get data out of the various machines into one, unified view.

Price depends on insurance coverage. At retail, it’s not cheap: About $2,000 per year for the transmitter and receiver, plus another $4,800 for the disposable sensors.

That’s our cull of a growing slew of Internet-connected things. We’ll keep scanning for the best and worst.