by Paul Mah

9 must-have ‘smart’ gadgets for your connected office

Jul 27, 2016
Consumer Electronics Gadgets Internet of Things

These nine 'smart' gadgets u2014 which include cameras, security systems, a thermostat, IoT lighting and a connected power outlet u2014 can give your home or work office a total tech-makeover.

00 smart small office
Credit: Thinkstock

Must-have smart gadgets for your small office

Are you setting up a new small office? Simply looking to revamp an existing location with some spiffy “smart” automation technology? We combed through piles of today’s novelty IoT tech to find practical gadgets that can transform your workspace into a smart office that’s sure to be the envy of all your coworkers and clients.

August Smart Lock 2.0

01 augustsmartlock

Image by August Home

You can leave the physical keys at home with the August Smart Lock ($199 and up), which turns a door with a standard deadbolt into a “smart door.” The device lets you unlock your office door with your smartphone and distribute virtual keys to coworkers or assistants who may need access. Unlike other smart lock systems, the August lock hitches onto the deadbolt mechanism from the inside, and it doesn’t change the appearance of the door.

The optional August Connect ($79) feature lets your control the lock over the internet. And with the wireless August Smart Keypad ($79), you can unlock the door using a unique entry code. (If you want support for Apple’s HomeKit, make sure you choose the appropriate updated model.)

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat

02 ecobee3

Image by ecobee

The ecobee3 ($249) is billed as a “smarter Wi-Fi thermostat” for good reason. Unlike ordinary thermostats that only record the temperature in rooms where they are installed, ecobee3 uses remote sensors to keep other rooms comfortable. Through integration with the popular IFTTT service, you can also setup “recipes” to make the Wi-Fi enabled thermostat power down other connected devices when you leave the office, or turn them back on when you return. The ecobee3 also works with a host of home automation platforms, including Apple HomeKit, Logitech Harmony and Samsung SmartThings.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Nest Cam Outdoor

03 nestcamoutdoor

Image by Nest Labs

Nest Cam Outdoor ($199, preorder) is the long-awaited outdoor version of the popular Nest Cam digital camera. Rated at IP65 for dust and water protection, the Nest Cam Outdoor records 1080p video at 30 frames per second over Wi-Fi. Eight high-power infrared LEDs let you see up to 20 feet away from the lens, even in total darkness, which can help spot suspicious activities or trespassers. Similar to the traditional Nest Cam, a USB adapter powers the outdoor version, but it also comes with a longer, 25-foot cable.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Linksys 360 Mini-Dome Camera

04 linksys360camera

Image by Belkin International

Many of today’s cloud-based IP cameras work well, but you may not want to store footage of your office in the cloud. The Linksys 360 Mini-Dome Camera ($547.99) has a fisheye lens, and it mounts on the ceiling to keep an eye on your entire office. Support for the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) means that you can easily hook it up to a variety of standard camera surveillance equipment. And its built-in SD memory card slot lets you locally store video recordings.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Synology DiskStation DS115j

05 synologyds115j

Image by Synology

The Synology DiskStation DS115j ($115.49, for the diskless version) is a single drive network-attached storage (NAS) system with a variety of capabilities that can serve as a low-cost storage backbone for your smart office. You can hook it up to your internal IP cameras as a digital recorder for surveillance footage, or use it as a storage server for sharing files with coworkers in the office. And you can set the NAS to synchronize with your favorite cloud storage service — or get a higher-end 2-bay model — to backup the data stored on the DiskStation’s sole drive.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Insteon On/Off Outlet

06 insteonoutlet

Image by SmartHome

If you’d rather your smart office not look like the inside of the Death Star, the Insteon On/Off Outlet ($59.99) can help. In fact, it looks just like a traditional dual-power outlet. However both of its internal power outlets can be individually controlled using the company’s hardware controllers, or via a smartphone app with an optional Insteon Hub ($79.99). The Hub add-on can be used to manage scores of Insteon hardware around your office, and it also lets you control your connected gadgets using Amazon’s Echo or Logitech’s Harmony devices.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Logitech Harmony Elite and Harmony Hub

07 logitechharmonyelite

Image by Logitech

The Logitech Harmony Elite ($349.99) smart remote control helps you manage all of the connected gadgetry in your office. Harmony Elite’s two IR mini-blasters enable you to hide the unsightly equipment in cupboards or tucked away placed, and they’ll still receive signal. And the Harmony Hub ($99.99) extends the capability to your smartphone. The Harmony Home Hub Extender ($99.99) also gives your Harmony Hub the ability to control smart devices that work on ZigBee and Z-Wave technologies.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Foobot Air Quality Monitor

08 foobotmonitor

Image by Foobot

Bad air quality can affect your job performance and even make you ill. The Foobot Air Quality Monitor ($200) helps monitor air quality in your space, with measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOC), PM2.5 particle pollution, and temperature and humidity. The device works around the clock, and it shows current air quality via colored LED lights. Foobot uploads readings to the internet via Wi-Fi, and it allows you to use IFTTT recipes to initiate related actions, such as powering on an air purifier when the quality dips below a certain level. The Foobot also works with Amazon Echo.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]

Philips Hue White and Color starter kit

09 philipshue

Image by Philips Lightning

No smart office would be complete without lighting that can be controlled via mobile app. The Philips Hue White and Color starter kit ($200) makes it easy to swap your old-fashioned lights with LED bulbs that can display as many 16 million different color combinations. The kit comes with a bridge appliance that can be used to control up to 50 bulbs each, and it is compatible with Apple HomeKit. Additional bulbs are somewhat pricey at $60 each, but the company says they’ll last as long as 10 years of normal office use.

[ find it on Amazon *what’s this?* ]