10 Silly “Smart” Home Devices

[Adapted from www.stuff.co.nz]


The Internet of Things is one of the gadget industry’s brightest hopes in a world saturated with smartphones. Sensors are cheap, and digital giants such as Amazon and Google are aggressively pushing their voice-command technology. The resulting hype, however, spawns inventions that should only exist in the corny worlds of science fiction. No one can predict which objects consumers will want to connect to the internet. So businesses are trying nearly everything. Displayed recently at The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

  • GeniCan: scans empty cereal boxes, reorders them through an app.
  • FridgeCam: sends photos to your phone, helps write grocery lists.
  • Catspad: dispenses food and water for a full month through an app, tracks kitty caloric intake.
  • Sleep Number 360: a bed that tracks your sleep and, of course, sends the data to an app.
  • A line of “smart” home appliances from Samsung, including a touchscreen fridge that responds to voice commands and app-governed cooktops, washer-dryers and vacuum cleaners.
  • A connected lawnmower (the app is for maintenance purposes and for ordering parts) and a tool chest you can lock and unlock with an app.
  • A hairbrush from L’Oreal that measures “hair health” and reports it to an app that will recommend treatments.
  • A kind of Amazon Echo for kids, from toymaker Mattel, that can read your kid bedtime stories.

These apps govern objects you never imagined could – or indeed should – be connected to the internet. These things are supposed to improve how you brush your hair and shop for groceries (!!!!!) Besides, will your cat’s welcome be as warm after it realises a robot – not you – feeds it three times a day?
This is how capitalism works, of course. People will offer things for sale in the hope other people will buy them, and if there’s no market, these objects will just disappear. On the other hand, as major companies adopt some of these offerings, they will soon become mainstream just because they will be pushed on consumers with the help of billion-dollar marketing budgets. Then, expect botnets of smart fridges and hacked smart showers that scald you just for fun…….
An internet-connected device that solves a real problem is the rarest of rarities at this point.


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