(CBS MONEY WATCH) - The "Internet of things" has arrived. This curious phrase, known as "IoT" among technoscenti, has entered the lexicon in a big way.
And as the technology world descends on Las Vegas this week for the Consumer Electronics Show, the emerging concept is drawing the lion's share of the spotlight.
The IoT basically describes new technologies that will put even the most insignificant object on the Internet. You can stick a sensor on just about anything and plug it in to the electronic grid of our lives. And companies are already experimenting with it, some to great success.
Consider the Nest thermostat, a pricey gadget that replaces the traditional temperature controller. It taps into a home Wi-Fi network, and with it you can use your smart phone to turn on the heater 15 minutes before you get home.
Home audio was one of the pioneering areas for Internet-connected devices, and companies from Qualcomm (QCOM) to Samsung are debuting multi-room speaker systems that can stream audio wirelessly from the cloud -- no phone or computer needed. Check out Samsung's $400 Shape speaker system.