The 10 Coolest New Smart Devices Of 2018

From a drone with facial recognition and voice control to smart light panels that sync with music, these are CRN's 10 coolest new smart devices of 2018.


Getting Smart

People just can't get enough of smart devices. According to research from Parks Associates, the number of consumers planning to buy smart home devices in 2018 has increased by 66 percent from the previous year. With this increased interest comes greater expectations of more sophisticated and personalized technology for every aspect of consumes' digital lives, the research firm said in its report.

Every category of smart home device is forecasted to grow in the double digits through 2022, according to a separate report by IDC. By that point, the research firm estimated there will be 1.3 billion devices in the world, spanning the categories of video entertainment products, smart speakers, connected lighting, smart thermostats and home monitoring/security products.

CRN took a look at the 10 coolest new smart devices of 2018 that will contribute to this continued growth. While many of them fit the traditional definition of smart home device, there are a few that provided connected experiences that aren't just meant to serve the home, such as drones and toys.

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Anki Vector

Vector is Anki's newest home robot that doubles as a playmate and assistant. The small, wheeled robot interacts with the world in multiple ways, including an HD camera used to identify people, remember faces and navigate spaces. Vector also comes with a four-microphone array for listening, as well as touch sensors and an accelerometer for detecting hands-on play. With his own voice, Vector can tell the weather, help with math equations and unit conversations and connect with Alexa to take advantage of Amazon's voice assistant features.

Currant Smart Outlet

Currant is a smart outlet that makes it easy to monitor energy use and provides suggestions on how to reduce energy consumption. The smart outlet syncs with a companion smartphone app and uses artificial intelligence to identify patterns in energy usage. The app will then provide recommendations to save on energy costs, such as setting a schedule for certain lights when you're home and turning off devices when they're not in use. The app also allows you to remotely disable devices and set rules for when they should shut down.

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Garmin's Vivosmart 4 is a smart activity tracker that monitors heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and sleep. It also includes tools for tracking stress and oxygen consumption, as well as a timer for relaxation breathing. With the ability to sync with a companion smartphone app, the wearable lets you know when to engage in strenuous activity and when to rest thanks to its Body Battery energy monitoring features. The device has up to seven days of battery life and can be used in the pool.

Google Home Hub

Google Home Hub is the internet giant's answer to the Amazon Echo Show: a hub for the connected home that comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display and Google Assistant so that you can interact with the machine using your hands and voice. The hub works with dozens of apps and thousands of smart home devices, allowing you to control them from afar.

Johnson Controls GLAS

GLAS is a smart thermostat from Johnson Controls with a slick transparent display that learns your schedule and adjusts temperature to optimize comfort and cost savings. The smart thermostat, which has Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant built in, can also work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The device also monitors indoor and outdoor air quality, providing reports on things like humidity, allergens and carbon dioxide levels. With companion apps for smartphones and tablets, GLAS works with most HVAC systems.

Nanoleaf Light Panels

Nanoleaf's smart light panels allows you to bring in a kaleidoscope of colors into your home that can sync with music and computer games. The triangular panels connect to each other, which can then be configured using its Android and iOS apps to display custom palettes of color. The panels are compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT.

Ring Alarm Security System

Ring, the Amazon-owned brand known for its video doorbell, expanded its offerings with a full security system called Ring Alarm this year. The base offering comes with a keypad, a contact sensor, a motion detector, a range extender and a base station that connects all the devices and enables syncing with a remote app. The company pitches the system as effortless to install and completely customizable, with the ability to add more devices, including security cameras and smoke listeners. Ring offers a 24/7 professional monitoring service, but no long-term contract is required.

Roomba i7+

The Roomba i7+ is iRobot's new flagship robotic vacuum that includes smart mapping technology and, for the first time, an automatic dirt disposal system that can hold up to 30 robot bins. With smart mapping, the Roomba can learn the entire interior of your home and allow you to schedule cleanings for specific rooms. Once the cleaning is over, the Roomba returns to its charging dock and empties dirt into the dock's automatic dirt disposal.

Sphero Bolt

From the same company that created the real-life BB-8 rolling droid from Star Wars, the Sphero Bolt is an app-enabled spherical robot that comes with advanced sensors, an 8x8 LED matrix and games — all of which can be programmed using a mobile or desktop device. The advanced programming capabilities allows users to create custom routes, as well as custom displays and animations. The robot is designed to work with the company's Sphero Edu educational platform.

Yuneec Mantis Q

The Yuneec Mantis Q is a portable drone that comes with voice control and facial detection capabilities that enable hands-free selfie-taking. The drone, which can be folded up for advanced portability, is equipped with a 4K UHD camera that is complimented with tilt control and the ability to fly automated routes, increasing the number of photo angles the camera can take. The Mantis Q comes with its own controller and syncs with a smartphone that can display the drone's view.