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The Internet of Things is growing, and the things are getting weirder by the day.
Last year, we dug up some of the weirdest objects that had been connected to the internet, from a college dorm bathroom to the human heart. Since then, the Internet of Things has only gotten bigger, drawing more items you wouldn't expect under its umbrella.
City trash can
A more practical use of a smart trash can be found in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where city officials have connected trash and recycling compactors so they can monitor how frequently they get filled, PC Mag reported. This information is used to form the most efficient routes for trash pickup, and is just one example of a growing trend.
Amazon’s grocery tool
As part of its recently announced Amazon Fresh program, the online retailer has released the Dash, a small device that records what users need to buy. The Dash has a voice recorder so users can take notes, as well as a barcode scanner that can scan and record specific products that users need to buy.
If the Amazon Dash is too much work, and if you happen to buy a lot of eggs, the connected egg tray will constantly monitor how many eggs you have in the refrigerator and display the information on a mobile app.
Dog fitness tracker
If you get carried away with the internet-connected treat dispenser, the Whistle dog fitness tracker can help monitor a dog's physical activity. It's sort of a Nike Fuelband for dogs that tracks and stores each dog's daily activity, so owners can get a sense of how much exercise their dog is actually getting. The Whistle's founders plan to aggregate all the data on the dogs wearing its devices to create a database that veterinarians and researchers can access to spot trends in dogs' health, Gigaom reported.
And if you decide that your dog needs more exercise, the internet-connected dog door can let it come and go without letting in any other unwelcome animals. As part of the Iris line of connected home products from Lowe's, the connected pet door opens only for pets wearing a special collar, and tracks how often the animals walk through it.
Home beer brewing system
An aptly named company called Inebriated Innovations has developed a Wi-Fi-enabled temperature control system for home beer brewing operations, according to a report at Postscapes. Temperature probes connected to a Wi-Fi module monitor temperature, and a mobile app allows the user to control heating and cooling devices remotely. The developers came up with the system after finding that better control over temperature during fermentation yielded a better beer.
Using a Raspberry Pi and some ingenuity, a student at the University of Oxford connected Wolfson College Bar, which is run entirely by student volunteers, to help improve everything from inventory to music selection, Wired reported. The Raspberry Pi recorded sales data in a MySQL database, which alerted student volunteers of stock shortages and suppliers' price changes. The project also involved coordinating an automated email system to remind volunteers of their shifts managing the bar, and a playlist on the pub's website where patrons can look up songs that are played over the sound system.
Random person’s office
Using a web cam, a scrolling marquee sign, a disco ball, some lamps, and an internet connection, one internet user has invited the entire world to drive him insane since 1997. At the domain name DriveMeInsane.com, visitors can see constant footage of a small home office, type messages that will scroll on the marquee sign, and control the lamps and disco ball in the room from their own computers. It's a very early, and impressively long-running, consumer use of the Internet of Things, and the person behind it did it just because he could.
At last year's CES, Verizon displayed a football helmet adorned with sensors that record impact data and send it to a console where teams can monitor each player's health and risk of injury. Players don't always immediately report when they've been injured, but a connected helmet could mean they won't have to.
Household power tools
Designers at Frog Design have come up with prototypes for connected power tools, such as a cordless drill and a tape measure. These kinds of advancements could be useful for storing information, such as the number of screws drilled into a certain item or lengths measured with the tape measure. Recording this data can help prevent simple missteps that can derail a project and cause safety issues.
The Porkfolio piggy bank can teach kids about personal finance at a young age. The piggy bank connects to a mobile app that displays its balance and allows users to set financial goals for the amount they want to save.