Old Tech, New Tricks

As we move toward a world with 8.4 billion connected devices to be in use this year, a figure projected by Gartner analysts, the fate of “dumb” products—think old-school thermostats, lightbulbs, or smoke detectors—does not have to be obsolescence. Instead, a new wave of technology is emerging—one that retrofits existing products with hardware that brings them into the Internet of Things, bridging the gap to a more connected world. This represents a big opportunity for vendors that sell IoT solutions, since total spending is forecasted to reach $273 billion this year alone, according to Gartner. Here are five technologies that help make your dumb products smarter.

Intel Compute Card

The Intel Compute Card is a mini-computer that, the company hopes, will set a new standard for connected devices. Based on the promise of “making every device smart,” it’s roughly the size of a credit card and has a range of processors. The card is designed to go in a dedicated slot on certified devices, such as digital signs, security cameras, smart kiosks, and large household appliances like refrigerators, adding connectivity and modular computing. The product is set for release in mid-2017.


For those who don’t want to swap out all of their perfectly functional lightbulbs for smart ones, the Emberlight socket offers a solution. It is compatible with almost any bulb, and Emberlight’s smartphone app can control multiple lights throughout the home at the same time with on, off, dim, and timer functions. A single tap on the phone adjusts lights to preset levels.

Roost Smart Battery

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are often forgotten household devices—we typically only remember them when the toast burns or they chirp about battery replacement. Roost’s smart battery goes right into existing 9-volt battery-enabled alarms, and a dedicated app sends low-battery reminders and remote notifications to the user’s smartphone. The battery can automatically send emergency alerts to designated friends and family and has a snooze option for false alarms.

Neurio Home-Energy Monitor

In order to make utility usage more efficient, Neurio’s Home-Energy Monitor goes into a home electrical panel and learns to recognize the current power draw of devices throughout the house. Instead of having to blindly flip switches and unplug small appliances, Neurio provides real-time readings of the energy used by air conditioning, heat, electronics, appliances, and lights, which the company says can lead to savings of up to 20% on electricity.


Commuting by bike, especially in a large city, can be treacherous. And using a smartphone at the same time risks taking eyes off the road. The SmartHalo device locks onto handlebars and connects to a smartphone that’s tucked safely in a pocket, automatically displaying turn-by-turn directions with intuitive lights. It also has a headlight that automatically adjusts to darkness, an antitheft alarm system, a fitness tracker, and visual notifications about incoming calls or texts.