9 devices shaping the future of the Internet of Things

The 'Internet of Things' (or IoT) is an exciting term to be able to sling around. Everyone who’s aware of the phrase knows that the IoT is coming, and a lot of people are excited to watch it evolve. It’s an imminent reality that promises to connect people to their possessions — and those possessions to one another — in ways that will save us time and effort and enable things never before possible. Despite this promise, when asked to define the IoT, many people — even experts — will do so in very different ways.

This is because the IoT is still very much in a gestational phase. Yes, connected devices already exist, like Nest for example, but a smattering of "smart" devices does not an Internet of Things make. The dream of the IoT is one of houses that open their doors for us when we arrive home, brew our coffee because they know we’re waking up, and turn down the lights when we put on a movie. It’s something akin to the way people interact with the computer on Star Trek or, perhaps even more appropriate, SARAH — the smart house from Eureka. It's when the hows and whys are addressed that this unified concept of the IoT begins to become muddled.

For instance, many people — even developers — view different modes of communication as driving the Internet of Things. And there are lots to choose from. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, mesh connections, and cell networks could each play a role in facilitating the IoT's communication needs. There’s also the ever-expanding world of RFID tags, motion sensors, and cloud integration. Not to mention different protocols specifically designed to try and make sense out of the IoT, like Zigbee and Z-Wave.

With all these connection possibilities and no unified direction as of yet, the IoT can easily become a muddled quagmire of wires and non-wires and boxes and different protocols. But the more hoops a user needs to jump through, the less seamless the interface becomes. What the perfect interface will ultimately be, and what sort of things the IoT will be able to do with it, is still up in the air. Thankfully, there are a number of brave souls already shaping the IoT of tomorrow, and here are nine of the best and brightest.

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