The ultimate Idealogic guide to the 'internet of things'

Buzzwords are funny things. In the blink of an eye they evolve from weird little phrases that no one understands to go-to clichés in the corporate lexicon. And if one such phrase defined tech conversations for 2014 it was IOT, or the 'internet of things'. If you feel like you missed the IOT wave, fear not! Grab that virtual boogieboard and come for a paddle, with our handy – if not totally comprehensive – guide.

So what does IOT actually mean? Good question. The IOT describes a global network of everyday items that connect to the internet for one reason or another – not just phones, tablets and computers.

Is this new? Kind of. People have been promising an internet-connected fridge that orders its own milk for decades. The last couple of years though have seen the IOT concept really take off.

Give me an example then. Sure! In fact, let’s fill the rest of the page with ways you can get some IOT into your life:

Tile

About the size of a fancy after dinner mint, these cute little tags do nothing more than tell your phone where they are. Connect one to your keys, child or life partner and you’ll always be able to track them down. US$25 each. 

August Smart Lock

Screw this US$249 unit on top of your existing front door lock and it lets you (or anyone else you authorise) unlock the door with an app

Mother

More a creepy connected way of life than an appliance, the Mother base unit monitors up to 99 pinkie-sized “cookies” around your house that measure movement, location and temperature then integrate that data into a suite of handy apps. US$199 from sen.se

Thingsee 

Less a thing, more an everything, Thingsee is a sensor unit that detects light, pressure, acceleration, orientation and magnetic field. What it actually does is less clear – but it’s an open-source device, which means anyone with any nous can invent an app to run on it. Thingsee isn’t in market yet, but hit its $100,000 target on Kickstarter in December.

Sexfit 

We did say this was the internet of things. Sexfit is a high tech ring that fits on your, um, thing and contains an accelerometer (to measure what you’re up to), LEDs (which light up when you hit a steady rhythm) and a Bluetooth connection (to tell the world about it). The Sexfit is currently at prototype stage and will be available from UK site bondara.com.

Smart and dim 

The Philips Hue lightbulb screws into an ordinary fitting but connects wirelessly to the internet, allowing you to turn it on and off, plus control brightness and colour from a phone app. Starter kit $249 from Harvey Norman.

Dropcam 

Want to not just see what your dog is doing at home while you’re out for dinner but wake it up and talk to it to? Dropcam is a plug and play HD wifi camera that plugs into any power point in your home then sends video and audio to your smartphone or tablet. For an extra fee it will also store a year’s worth in the cloud. US$199 from dropcam.com.

Christine

OK, connected cars aren’t really named after the demonic Dodge from the Stephen King novel, but the “5th screen” has been on auto-makers’ radars for a few years now. Navigation and music screening are just the start. Many new cars will point you to a service station when gas is low; soon, they’ll be shopping around for the best price before making a recommendation.