By Linda Rosencrance
Increasingly, small business owners are looking to cash in on the Internet of Things. Here are four products to help them do just that.
Nest Cam: The first security camera from Google-owned Nest Labs, the Nest Cam offers full high-definition (1080p) video quality, a versatile stand, and improved motion alerts and night vision, to enable SMBs to keep an eye their assets. (Read GearBrain’s review here.) The camera captures high-definition video that owners can view from their mobile devices or computers. The Nest Cam sells for $199 and there’s a nominal monthly subscription fee to store and archive recorded video in the cloud – $10 per month for 10 days of storage, or $30 per month for 30 days. For SMBs that don’t have the money to invest in security services, the Nest Cam is a more affordable security solution.
Square: For SMBs that sell goods or services, the free Square mobile credit card reader is a fast and easy way to accept credit cards anytime, anywhere. A user signs up for an account, downloads the Square app, then plugs the Square credit card reader into an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. Square accepts all major credit cards at a flat rate of 2.75 percent per swipe, or 3.5 percent plus 15 cents per transaction for manually keyed-in cards. SMBs can also use Square’s standalone terminal to turn iPads into POS (point-of-sale) systems at their checkout counters. With Square, SMBs can save money on fees associated with credit card processing as well as on renting POS systems.
Belkin WeMo Insight Switch: SMBs can now connect appliances, (think air conditioners, and electronic devices) to their Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G networks, allowing users to turn devices on or off, plus monitor and control energy use — and costs — from anywhere. The $59.99 WeMo Insight Switch will send information about the devices’ energy usage directly to smartphones or tablets. (Read GearBrain’s take on WeMo here.) The free WeMo App can be downloaded to as many smartphones and tablets as necessary to enable SMBs to set schedules, as well as create custom rules, details that tell electronics to respond at specific times. The WeMo Insight Switch is compatible with Apple (iOS 7 and higher) and Android (4.1 and higher) devices.
Google Cloud Print: This free service connects printers to the web, by enabling individuals to print documents and photos securely from mobile or network-connected devices. With Google Cloud Print, users can connect as many work printers as they want to their accounts, and share those printers so others can print to a user’s office printers as well. Google Cloud Print works on smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, PCs, Macs, and web-connected devices and the need for complex setup and driver installation.
-Linda Rosencrance has more than 25 years experience as a reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years. She is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.