Calm, cruel and connected: September’s best and worst of IoT

It seems that every day a new IoT device or means to connect existing devices is revealed. With so much energy in being devoted to tell us how, when, where, what we can connect to each other, the “why” may be getting a little blurry. So we want to take a step back every now and take a calm, cruel and critical look at the connected devices that actually go out and buy, right now.

Here’s what caught our eye, for all the right — or wrong — reasons:

PIN Genie Smart Lock

Home security is a big concern to all, especially those who offer their properties for Airbnb. PIN Genie Smart Lock is the first peep-proof and hidden camera-proof PIN door lock. Equipped with a patent-pending touchscreen pad, it shortens your ten-digit passcode into just four buttons for simple usability. With each use, PIN Genie Smart Lock reshuffles the numbers. No one will be able to guess your unique PIN, even if they’re watching. Go ahead, dare your friends! They won’t be able to guess your PIN code.

My initial concern was that it would be a struggle when you are unable to see clearly to type the PIN number after far too many cocktails — particularly as after three failed attempts the PIN pad will be disabled for one hour. Fortunately, you can still use a corresponding app or physical key alternatively to open the door, covering all bases. They’re now crowdfunding on Kickstarter and you can preorder your very own.

Verdict: Hit

Sony glass sound speaker

Envisage a rather delicate looking wireless lamp with a speaker. Bundle it with a suite of exclusive products by Sony called Life Space UX. Add a marketing campaign that includes a troupe of hipsters carrying the lamp through a forest at night and using it for a spot of glamping.

Add a price tag of $799. Yes, it’s essentially $800 for a lantern/speaker combo, made of easily breakable components like glass, just right for when you trip over a tree root. Apparently the sound quality is excellent. But you could buy a flashlight for $20 and stay in a hotel instead.

Verdict: Miss


DIY homebrewing and fermenting is a hobby enjoyed by many all around the world. Coming from a home where you could be awakened by homemade ginger beer bottles exploding in the laundry, there’s a number of very tangible benefits to the Alchema system.

It comes with recipes on a corresponding app which also includes key facts about your current batch, including fermentation temperature, pressure, and alcohol content. The latter is particularly important as it’s extremely difficult to measure the alcohol content of homemade booze with any definite accuracy, meaning a particularly potent beverage could put you down for hours.

There’s even a built-in sanitization tool meaning you no longer need chemicals to sterilize the equipment. There are a few negatives. The device is a relatively small size, considering homemade enthusiasts typically like to make generous quantities to give away to neighbors and friends. It’s unclear if you can bottle the finished product after fermenting and how long it would keep outside of device. It also comes at a rather high price of $429. That said, it’s one of the most interesting products in the home drinks market and will give devices like the Brewie andMiniBrew some competition. If you’d like your own, it’s now crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

Verdict: Hit


The BedJet is based on the hardly new notion of enabling a bed to be an appropriate temperature to suit the needs of both bedfellows. This is not achieved through different sleepwear or bed blankets but instead a BedJet AirComforter sheet that contains two separate hollow cavities in which BedJet Air Nozzles fill, gently distributing the warming or cooling air to a specific half of the bed.

The temperature/air flow can be modified via a corresponding app. But to be exact, if you want to temperature control both sides of the bed — presumably the point — you need to buy the Dual Zone bundle for independent cooling and warming to each half of the bed with two BedJet machines -double the price at $929. I’m sure I’m not the only one reminded of those air conditioners that funnel air out the window via a plastic pipe. It’s hard to believe people would actually buy this, but apparently they do!

Verdict: Miss

Lowiee smart cigarette case

Quitting smoking can a difficult and disheartening experience for many. French company Lowieehave come up with a novel way to support people in the process through a connected cigarette case. Users can set the number of cigarettes they want to smoke in a day along with a time interval between the dispensing of each cigarette. This brings a level of awareness into one’s smoking habits and behavior. The case is fingerprint locked so no one else can gain entry.

An app enables you to share your progress with others trying to quit smoking, including the amount of money you have saved, so you can compare your achievements and challenge each other. It’s only available as a pre-order right now, but it adds an additional level of engagement that current smoking cessation apps lack.

Verdict: Hit

Little Rooster alarm clock

The latest connected pleasure product to hit the internet is designed to make your mornings a happy experience. It’s basically a wearable sex toy that claims to gradually awaken the wearer over 5 minutes with an orgasm.

With the assertion Set the alarm and slip it in your panties. Because of its shape you won’t notice it, the makers of the Little Rooster connected sex toy/alarm clock are obviously heavier sleepers than the rest of us. It’s a product that leaves me with more questions than answers. How could you not notice a big hunk of plastic in your nether regions? What happens when you roll over in bed? Can you put it on snooze? What if it got hacked via the app? How will they get the app in the iTunes store? Read the customer comments for a laugh, as users confess to wearing it outside of the bedroom. My favorite:

“I used to fall asleep and miss my stop. I don’t miss it now! Plus, my colleagues have noticed a change, but I haven’t told them why.”

The device has 27 ultra-quiet levels of intensity, plus three more super-loud ones for the deep sleepers. Will it get you out of bed on time? Well, it might not if it works as well as the customers claim. It retails at around $57. Why do so many connected sex toys come from the UK?

Verdict: Hey you decide, to each their own.

Published at ReadWrite October 2, 2016

Tech journo and writer, based in Berlin, Germany.

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