The Internet of Things promises convenience, but so far, for consumers, it has mostly been a matter of spending cash on janky solutions that don't mesh well together. As the Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern has commented, "many of these overpriced newcomers aim to solve problems that aren't really problems."
What might make these products seem more useful: If they helped consumers save money, especially on utilities. And there are several IoT startups aiming to do that.
The IoT market is expected to expand rapidly by 2020. Business Insider predicts 34 billion devices will be connected to the internet four years from now. That number includes 24 billion of those devices in the IoT sphere, plus 10 billion traditional computing items.
And Gartner has predicted that by 2020, "IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion." Research firm IDC is bullish too, predicting a $1.7 trillion market.
Naturally, a lot of that revenue and connectivity will be centered on the smart home gizmos and services. And devices looking to save you a buck on home expenses appear as though they will be plentiful. Here are five intelligent device startups seeking to buoy your bank account.
This monitor measures and displays how much energy you are using at home, with the aim of encouraging users to scale back energy use.
Santa Cruz-based Calliope is making a smart meter that gathers data pertaining to water flow in your home. The device--soon available for preorder, according to the startup's website--tells users how water is being utilized and alerts them to possible leaks.
Bought by Google for $3.2 billion, Nest is arguably the leading line of smart home products. Among the startup's series of connected items is a "Learning Thermostat" for which Nest has developed a "Time of Savings" platform to detect when energy costs are highest in the area where the device is being used. Nest products scale back energy uses in response to periods of higher cost of energy usage throughout the day.
Nest competitor Roost makes connected home products, including a smart battery for smoke alarms and a recently-announced smart water and freeze detector. The water detector alerts users about potential issues with their water systems such as frozen pipes, leaks, mold and water damage. The battery turns smoke alarms into connected devices that notify users on their phones if the alarm goes off, among other uses. (Roost also makes a full smoke alarm.) The smoke alarm products can lessen insurance costs, according to Roost.
Ernit isn't really a smart home device per se, but it fits into the same ecosystem as a device aimed at helping a family or residents save money. The little IoT piggy bank for kids lets users (including parents) transfer money to the device using a mobile phone. It's a cashless way of teaching kids to save up, using the physical piggy bank and app to which it connects.