5 smart devices for smart gift giving

December 19, 2014, 3:00 PM UTC
Courtesy of Super Mechanical

Ah, the holidays. The season where you’re supposed to be jolly, but in reality spend days pull your hair trying to figure out what exactly to buy your in-laws. And gadgets: don’t get us started on gadgets. What’s fun? What’s just wires and hype? Fortune is here to help. We’ve sorted through the connected devices on the market and found the whimsically useful, and the ridiculously indulgent. Here are the gifts you’ll love giving (or want to keep for yourself).

Toymail ($60)

Toymail, a voicemail box disguised as a toy animal, lets parents and children exchange messages without making live calls. Perfect for the perpetually traveling parent who doesn't want to give their young child a cellphone. Simply connect the toy mailbox, which comes in six different animal shapes to the Wi-Fi network. Download the app and presto: Now you can call the mailbox through the app and leave a message. The mailbox will snort or wheeze to let kids know they have a message, and they can reply.


Supermechanical's Range ($70)

Do people really need a thermometer that sends their phone updates about their food cooking at home? No, not really. But do we all dream of cooking the perfect roast or holiday ham? Yes, we do, and the Range by Supermechanical can help. The Range, which comes in two versions - Ember with a sharp tip for roasts, and Aqua which has a round tip for liquids bubbling in pots - links wirelessly to your phone. You can get alerts when the temperature goes beyond a certain range and charts showing whether your food cooking at home is ice-cold or piping-hot. Now you can definitively prove to dinner guests that the chicken was not under cooked.

Adaptics Drop ($100)

Who hasn’t been stumped when trying to adjust a recipe to make smaller or bigger portions? The Drop, made by Adaptics, is a smart scale for weighing baking ingredients. An app connected to your phone via Bluetooth automatically tells you how much sugar you need based on the amount of flour you place on the scale, for example. You can also automatically scale a recipe up or down beforehand by pressing a few buttons on the app. In the future, Drop plans to unroll a feature that will let you know what ingredients you can use as substitutes if you run low on something essential.

Tile ($25.00)

Tile is a smart-sensor that lets you find things you've lost. Attach the square Bluetooth sensor to your keys, or wallet, or whatever it is you want to keep track of.  The next time you lose something, you can use an app to find your lost object (as long as you're within 100 feet of it). The app will let you know how close you are based on the strength of the Bluetooth signal. In addition, while you search, Tile will beep to help you find the object of your affections faster. A must-have for the person in your life who loses everything (except their phone).

Fitbit Aria ($130)

December is all about eating while January is all about sticking to your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. Fitness and data geeks should consider the Aria smart scale, made by Fitbit. Not only can you weigh yourself, you can also track your body fat and your body mass index. The scale syncs to your Wi-Fi, so every time you step on the scale, your data is saved to your online account. You can see graphs showing your progress (or lack thereof) and track your fitness. As encouragement, the app rewards you with badges once you meet your weight goals. If that isn’t enough to make you stick to your New Year’s gym resolutions, nothing will.