Smart Technology Gift Guide 2017
Many people are starting to tie everything in their house to their smartphones, so they can easily access anything at any time – even when they’re not home. Smart technology enables you to use an app or website on your phone, tablet, or computer to get information from or control the gadget remotely.
They’re soaring in popularity, as convenience is becoming more and more important to consumers. But some people aren’t aware of what all is available, or it’s out of their budget – so they make a perfect gift for someone you love.
Smart Wearable Gifts
One of the most common, useful, and basic pieces of smart technology is the tech you can wear and they make wonderful gifts this Christmas season. The most common type of wearable tech is the smart watch. Smart watches are often geared towards fitness tracking, but also do a fine job of keeping track of time and performing a few other duties.
Possibly the most well-known smart watch is the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5 or later to work with it, and it allows you to access most of the information on your phone from your wrist.
For example, you can read and respond to text messages by using the touch screen interface, or by using Siri. You can also see your calendar events, the weather, and even some basic health information like your heart rate and walking speed.
Like most smart watches, you can also change the face of the watch depending on your style and preference and this is a great additional gift to give someone. While Apple is very popular, the Fitbit watches have certainly made their mark on the wearable technology market.
Fitbit has a wide variety of devices, from sleek smart watches to discreet little wearables that you can attach to your sock. The cheapest and most basic Fitbit is the Fitbit Zip. The Zip is a very small device that you can attach to your shoe or sock, and it tracks your steps, calories burned, and distance moved.
It automatically syncs with your phone using Bluetooth, and you can view all of the information through a free app. One of the most popular Fitbit devices is the Charge HR.
It’s fairly discreet, and goes around your wrist. The seamless display shows you everything you need to know from the time to your heart rate to how many minutes you’ve been active.
It can also wake you up with a silent alarm and track your sleep schedule. Just like the Zip, you can view all of this information on the Fitbit app, which works for both Androids and iPhones.
Smart Home Gifts
Home based smart technology is becoming very popular very quickly, especially because it’s so easy to set up and use – and this is a great gift for your parents or other loved ones who live on their own.
Smart home technology makes it easier to control many of the aspects of your house such as the temperature, and allows you to seamlessly connect your home to many internet services.
Most smart home devices allow you to use your phone or even your voice to control these features. Possibly the most popular smart home device is the Amazon Echo, and for good reason.
The Echo is compatible with tons of different services, from Amazon Music, to Spotify, to Uber, and even Domino’s Pizza – so teenagers and adults alike will enjoy this as a gift.
You can access all of these services by using voice commands directed at Amazon’s AI, Alexa. For example, if you wanted to play a certain song from your Spotify playlist, you’d say, “Alexa, play” and then say the name of the song.
You can also use an app on your phone to connect to the Echo if you’re not a fan of voice commands. One of the most important parts about the Echo is that it’s compatible with many other smart home devices.
If you have smart technology in your lamps, garage, locks, TVs, or anything else, you can turn them on and off using the Echo. Alexa will also answer any basic questions that you might ask Apple’s Siri, such as the weather, the news, traffic, and more.
There are a few different versions of the Echo available. The most common version is the full sized original one. Amazon has also released a smaller, compact Echo called the Echo Dot.
The Echo Dot has all of the same features, but due to its smaller size and lower price, the range on it isn’t as good. You can pair Dots together as range extenders, however. Currently, their most expensive variation of the Echo is the Echo Show, which has a screen and a webcam, allowing you to make video calls straight from the device and watch YouTube videos.
Another wildly popular smart home device is the Nest thermostat and this is a great higher end gift for someone on your list. Instead of getting up and setting the temperature on your thermostat manually, you can now do it from your phone with the Nest.
The front features a screen that shows you a variety of information, from outside weather to current inside temperatures and settings. It’s fully compatible with the Amazon Echo, so if you have them connected, you can simply say “Alexa, set the temperature to 68 degrees.”
The Nest also helps you save energy by adjusting the temperature accordingly when nobody’s home. So if it’s a hot day, you can have it set low while you’re home, but when you leave for work, it will raise the temperature, so the AC system uses less power.
You can even control the temperature while you’re at work remotely, so you can have the house cooled off by the time you get home. This makes it a fantastic gift for anyone who is trying to control electricity costs.
One increasingly popular smart device is the smart door lock – a perfect gift for someone who you feel needs extra protection and security. They’re very easy to install, and your original key will still work with them, but it has the added functionality of being able to be remotely unlocked.
For example, if you were out and about and you needed to let your friend into your house to let them get something, you could unlock the front door from your phone and lock it again when they leave.
If you got locked out accidentally, but still had your phone, you could unlock the door and get your keys from inside. It will also automatically lock your door if you forget to as you leave.
Smart Car Gifts
While many cars today are starting to include more smart technology already integrated in them, not every car has it. Does someone on your list drive? This may make the perfect gift this holiday season!
You can get someone you love the smart technology they need to use in their car, even if it wasn’t originally made with smart tech. Smart car gadgets are extremely useful, and also provide a wide range of safety features.
Many smart devices for cars plug into the OBD-II port, which is typically down between the pedals and the steering wheel. All vehicles made from 1996 on have an OBD-II port in them, as it’s a requirement for the car to even be able to be produced.
The OBD-II port allows devices to read important information about the car, and OBD-II readers allow you to read this information on your phone. One of the most common OBD scanners available is the Hum from Verizon.
Once you plug the Hum in, you can use an app on your phone to view information such as top speed, fuel mileage, and health reports about your car. The Hum is especially good for protective parents who want to monitor their child’s car, because you can set speed and distance boundaries that, if broken, will alert you on your phone.
For example, if your child goes over 65 on the highway, you’ll know exactly when and how fast they went at their highest speed. The Hum will also alert you if your child is in an accident or other collision.
You can even see where the car has driven, as it maps each drive. Another great car monitor to give as a gift is the Nonda ZUS. The ZUS plugs into the cigarette lighter rather than the OBD-II port, and has a different variety of functions.
The ZUS’s main use is helping you find where you parked your car. When you turn off the engine, the ZUS transmits and logs the location using the app on your phone. So when you come back to find your car, you’ll see an arrow on your phone pointing you in the right direction.
This also tells you how far away the car is. The ZUS also acts as a USB port, so you can plug in and charge your phone. The ZUS will give you updates on car health reports, such as current battery life. It makes a great gift for car owners!
Car statistics and safety reports aren’t the only purposes of smart devices for cars. Entertainment is also very important to most people. There are plenty of different stereo and entertainment systems available, and with proper mounts and installation procedures, they can be installed on just about any car.
For example, Xshop sells stereos that allow you to hook up your phone through the AUX cord or Bluetooth, so you can stream your favorite songs. This is especially useful for cars that don’t have these features already built in, like most modern cars do.
Smart Entertainment Gifts
While smart technology definitely has its practical uses, we always find a way to put an entertaining spin on new technology. To nobody’s surprise, many major companies have found ways to incorporate smart technology into common entertainment devices and these options can help you check off your Christmas gift buying list quickly!
One of the most popular smart entertainment devices that you might want to buy for someone is the Amazon Fire TV stick. The Fire TV stick has a wide range of functions and uses, all focused on entertainment.
It plugs in to the HDMI port on your TV, and by connecting to WiFi, allows you to stream your favorite shows from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, and more. This is especially useful if someone doesn’t have a cable box satellite dish, because you can get a subscription that allows you to do the same thing cable or satellite would do without any complex installation.
Much like Amazon’s Echo product, the Fire TV comes with a remote that has Alexa. Alexa is Amazon’s smart voice recognition software, which allows you to control your TV hands free, so someone with mobility issues or who is always multitasking might love this gift.
For example, if you say “Alexa, turn the volume up,” then she will automatically adjust the volume. You can also ask Alexa to turn on certain TV shows or certain channels. The Fire TV can also play you music from Spotify, Amazon Music, and more.
If you have someone on your list who isn’t a big fan of Amazon products, you can get them the Roku Streaming Stick instead. It provides a very similar service to the one that the Fire TV stick offers, but with a few minor changes.
Instead of using voice commands through the remote, you use an app on your phone. This makes it a bit more secure. It you want to watch TV but not have everyone hear it, you can stream the audio to your phone and connect headphones, so you can listen quietly and everyone else can focus on what they need to do.
While those smart TV sticks are very useful for adding smart functionality to your TV, it might be better for you to get them a TV with smart functionality already in it. For example, Smart TVs from Sony allow you to use online services like YouTube and Hulu from the built in menus, and it connects to the same WiFi you use for your phone, computers, and laptops.
It also allows you to hook up just about any device via USB to play videos or music from it, such as your phone. You can also share the image directly to your TV using mirroring, so you don’t have to fumble around with cables.
Smart Kitchen Gifts
Smart technology has managed to find its way into the kitchen, where it’s making cooking way easier and more enjoyable for people all the time and it makes a fantastic gift for the home chef in your family.
By using simple interfaces and smartphones, more people than ever are able to be self-reliant and cook for themselves. This new technology has made cooking more efficient and less likely to turn out wrong, so smart kitchen gadgets make great gifts for anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen.
One of the most increasingly popular styles of cooking is called sous vide. Sous vide is when you heat up water, which has meat in a plastic bag in it. The meat gets cooked perfectly, so when you take it out, you only have to sear it and then it will be ready to serve. Of course, this presents an excellent opportunity for a smart device to come into play.
One of the most popular sous vide devices available is the Anova Culinary Sous Vide cooker. The Anova doesn’t require any special equipment outside of a pot, some water, a plastic baggy, and the device itself.
By using either the app that connects to it or the device itself, set the appropriate temperature and watch it go to work. You can see on your phone what the temperature is at, so you don’t have to keep walking over and checking on it.
Because the Anova circulates the heat evenly, you will get even results and no overcooking. Once the food is done, you can make any last adjustments outside of the pot, such as searing the meat, and then serve it.
However, the Anova has a fairly popular competitor: the ChefSteps Joule. The Joule works in a very similar way, and also has its own app. However, the Joule app is a bit more in depth, allowing you to compare exactly how your food should look for the level of cooked you want it to be.
For example, it can show you what a medium rare steak should look like on the inside. The Joule also has the Anova beat in power, utilizing 1100 Watts to heat up the water, whereas the Anova uses 800.
It’s also very compact, coming in at a mere 11 inches long. Both products can easily make some of the best dishes you’ve ever made, using a simple but effective cooking method and your gift recipient will love it.
Another great smart kitchen device people will want this Christmas is the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Smart Cooker. This pot acts as seven different pots, including a rice cooker, slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, and more.
You can control it easily using your phone or the simple interface on the front. The app allows you to view user submitted and preloaded recipes, and set your pot’s settings according to the recipe.
Smart Parenting Gifts
One of the most practical applications of smart technology is making parenting a bit easier, and anyone who has a child on your list will enjoy one of these great gifts. Parenting is a very tough job, especially when you’re looking after a baby.
You have to be on call 24/7, checking in on your baby every chance you get to make sure it’s okay. However, with developments in smart technology, your job can be a lot easier.
One of the most useful smart parenting devices is the Owlet Smart Sock. The Owlet allows you to monitor your infant’s vital signs at all times from your phone, specifically heart rate and oxygen levels.
With the Owlet you can always be sure your baby is healthy, and the simple interface of the Owlet app lets you see what the heart rate and oxygen levels are supposed to be at, so you don’t have to guess what the appropriate heart rate is.
A simple yet effective way of helping your baby relax and fall asleep is by using the Fisher-Price Smart Projection Mobile. This smart mobile allows you to play lullabies, light shows, and night lights to calm your baby down.
The mobile also records and alerts you to any unusual sounds your baby makes while it’s asleep, or if there are any other strange sounds in the room. It can connect to just about any crib very easily.
A particularly useful device for babies is a humidifier. Humidifiers keep the humidity in the room at a good level, which is good because if the air gets too dry, your baby will get sick easier.
You can find humidifiers varying in noise level, so if you like having the white noise you can get a louder one, or you can get a quieter one for the baby. You can also set them to automatically shut off after a certain point.
Another great gift for parents is the Nest indoor security camera. The Nest indoor camera is fully functional with your smartphone, using the Nest app. You can see live feeds through the camera, hear audio, and even speak through the camera.
For example, if you see your toddler doing something dangerous, you can tell them to stop through the app and then go help them. The Nest camera also works with the Amazon Echo if you have one.
The Nest doesn’t just work during the day. It has proper night vision, which allows you to see your baby at night or catch intruders in your home. For example, if you think one of your teenagers is trying to sneak out, you can check the camera and see if they’re making a break for it.
You can set up the Nest camera to alert you on your phone when it detects activity around a certain time. This kind of electronic gadget makes a great gift for parents of any age group.