Nociception, in contrast to pain, is not a subjective feeling, but the physiological encoding and processing of nociceptive stimuli. However, monitoring nociception remains a challenge in attempts to lower the incidence of acute postoperative pain and the move towards a more automated approach to analgesia and anaesthesia. To date, several commercialised devices promise a more accurate reflection of nociception than the traditionally used vital signs, blood pressure and heart rate. This narrative review presents an overview of existing technologies and commercially available devices, and offers a perspective for future research. Although firm conclusions about individual methods may be premature, none currently appears to offer a sufficiently broad applicability. Furthermore, there is currently no firm evidence for any clinically relevant influence of such devices on patient outcome. However, the available monitors have significantly aided the understanding of underlying mechanisms and identification of potential pitfalls.