Game-changing tech on the horizon

Q. What is the "Internet of Things"? Will it affect me?

A. The Internet of Things is another name for "smart" versions of gadgets like TVs, lightbulbs, thermostats, appliances and anything else that connects to a network. In the coming years, you can use these gadgets to turn any home into a futuristic smart home that can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet. Get the scoop on five smart gadgets that could be in your home by the end of the year. Read to the end for a bonus question on other tech trends of 2016.

Secure your smartphone

Q. I just got my first smartphone. What do I need to do security-wise?

A. The most important thing is to turn on the lock screen and create a strong PIN or pattern to keep snoopers out. Apple should walk you thought this automatically, or you can go to Settings>>Passcode. In Android, go to Settings>>Lock screen. For a Windows phone, also go to Settings>>Lock screen. Then learn five more things you need to do for strong smartphone or tablet security.

Office Communication 2.0?

Q. One of my employees is pushing our company to adopt Slack. What do you think?

A. Slack is currently the darling of the corporate world, having grown from 12,000 users to 1.7 million users in just two years. It aims to replace instant messaging, texting, email and phone calls with a single chat-based system that's available on any gadget. It is certainly convenient, and it's free for smaller groups, so there's no reason not to give it a try. Get more details about this new system that could change the way your office communicates.

The future of cars?

Q. I've been playing around with 3-D printers lately and wondered if anyone is using them in the car market.

A. Many manufacturers use 3-D printers for fast prototyping, but a company called Local Motors is using 3-D printing to build entire car bodies. Not only does it speed up development and manufacturing, but it could lead to an era of fully made-to-order vehicles. Learn more about 3-D printed cars, see a video of the process and find out when you can buy one.

Help to stop smoking

Q. My New Year's resolution was to stop smoking and it isn't going well. Can technology help?

A. There are plenty of apps geared toward smokers who want to quit. QuitNow (Android, Apple; Free) is a good one to start with because it keeps track of your progress and lets you get in touch with fellow quitters for encouragement. Get two more great apps to help you quit smoking.

Bonus:  Tech trends for 2016

Q. What tech should I keep my eye on in 2016?

A. It's always hard to know exactly what's coming up, but keep your eye on virtual reality now that Facebook, Sony and other heavy-hitters are involved. You could also see more consumer robots and smartwatches and other wearables at work. There are some bigger innovations on the horizon as well like eSports, a radical change in banking and much more. Read more on my site to get full details on all of these trends and more.

 

On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.