Five IoT devices you should have bought yesterday with Suz Hinton

You love gadgets. I LOVE gadgets. I just used the word “gadget” two times in a row and I realized I don’t really like that word. Now it’s three times!

This week’s episode of Five Things features Suz Hinton and I giving you recommendations on 5 IoT devices you should probably run out and buy right now. RIGHT. NOW.

LIFX Mini Color (~$26.00)

The LIFX Mini Color is a simple internet connected LED bulb that supports 16 million colors. The LIFX companion app for your phone is well made and has a really nice interface for adjusting the color, brightness, temperature and all sorts of other features. The best part is that it has an API that is super easy to use making this a “gateway IoT drug”. If you’re looking to get started in IoT with something simple and pretty to look at, this is your jam.

I used Azure Functions and Vue to create a site that allows you to control the lamp on my desk right from the web. Unfortunately, “ilovelamp.com” was already taken. FORTUNATELY, “ienjoylamp.com” is now mine. Give it a try. FYI — I like pink a lot.

Adafruit Huzzah Breakout Board (~$12.00)

The Adafruit board is one of Suz’s favorites. It’s a connected board and it’s not even 12 bucks! That makes these things kind of throwaway quality. Instead of having to dismantle every IoT project you make, you can just buy a bunch of these and then leave them all connected. There will be Adafruit boards all over your house. Your significant other will be super annoyed, but look at how much money you saved!

https://www.amazon.com/802-11-Development-HUZZAH-ESP8266-Breakout/dp/B0131V0WYI?crid=2DJXBI4QJ1PFU&keywords=adafruit+huzzah+esp8266&qid=1540391580&sprefix=adafruit+huzzah%2Caps%2C143&sr=8-5&ref=sr_1_5

Azure MX Chip (~$40.00)

The Azure MX Chip was my first real IoT experience. Suz threw one at me during a meeting and I took it home and plugged it in. The cool thing about the MX Chip is that it has basically every piece of functionality that you could ask for in an IoT device. Accelerometer, thermometer, wifi, motion sensor, magnetic field sensor, toaster, and hot water heater. Not really those last two. It’s a chip, people. Play along here.

The best part about this chip is that you get step-by-step tutorials for connecting to Azure and getting your data into IoT Hub. There is a cool little blue light on the board that comes on when you are successfully transmitting data to Azure. It’s the little things in life that make me happy.

My good friend and fellow beardsman (yes, that’s a thing) Shayne Boyer pointed out that there is a MakeCode site that lets you code your Adafruit(s) by dragging and dropping pieces. MakeCode was built by Microsoft — which is kinda good at making developers tools. It looks a lot like Scratch, which you may have seen before.

Flic Button (~$40.00)

It’s a button! For 40 bucks!

I know — it sounds a bit steep. There are a lot of IoT Buttons out there that are cheaper, but the Flic is durable and easy to set up and use. Look, Amazon built a whole business around IoT Buttons. I mean, when you are out of toilet paper, you can’t be bothered to actually get online and order more. You need a button for that nonsense.

Wire your Flic Button up to do….pretty much anything you want. Suz wired hers up to send me a text message asking for a Goo Goo Cluster. Ask and you shall receive.

You could also use yours to trigger an Azure Logic App. What could you do with that Logic App? How about sending an email to someone asking them to buy you more toilet paper? Just a thought.

We recommend that you buy a 4-pack because they are slightly cheaper that way. Then sell the rest to your friends at 10% markup. That’s called “entrepreneurship”.

Particle Maker Kit (~$86.00)

This is single most expensive item on the list, but….as Deadpool once said, “WORTH IT”.

The Particle Maker Kit is for those who have moved past lightbulbs and buttons and are ready to be legitimately legit IoT hackers. That’s double-legit. I just made that up.

Particle makes great IoT devices that are quite affordable. You get a LOT in the maker kit. There are enough wires, LED’s and sensors to for you to light up a Christmas tree and track its water intake. Because that’s a product the world needs. Free business idea — you’re welcome.

I own this kit, and I love it. I also know some of the folks over at Particle quite well and I love the work they do.

If you think the Christmas tree idea is dumb (it is), here are some projects that you can build that are actually quite useful.

Get your gear, and then get you some Azure

You are going to need a cloud for your new collection of devices. Whether you’re creating serverless endpoints to control a lightbulb, a Logic App to text people with your Flic Button or a Power BI dashboard to track the temperature in your bedroom at night because someone thought it was a good idea to build your bedroom over the garage, Azure has you covered.

Here are some additional resources for doing IoT things with Azure.

What’s Your Favorite Device?

Which IoT devices are your favorites? Leave us some links in the comments below. I’ll see if I can’t talk Suz into buying me more things.

Speaking of which, make sure you check out Suz’s site which is chocked full of IoT goodness. She also has a popular Twitch stream where you can join her and work on IoT things.