The Internet of Silly Things shows no bounds

Written by on December 3, 2014 in Opinion with 6 Comments

Since writing about the Internet of Silly Things I have been inundated with apps and devices that have me wondering where it will all end. It also makes me wonder how I have survived so long without the help of these incredibly brilliant and equally useless tools that are supposed to make my life better and help me live longer.

In the rush to capitalize on the connected world and the miniaturization of collecting and transmitting devices we are set to become a species of brainless app users unable to exist without our every body function being monitored and all our appliances talking to us.

Here are just a few examples of technologies (with thanks to cbronline) that are set to disrupt us – if we choose to let them.

The Beddit Sleep Tracker is an ultra-thin force sensor that lies under your sheets. It measures your nighttime activity based on ballistocardiography (BCG). The sensitive force sensor in Beddit tracks small vibrations caused by your heartbeat, breathing and movements. Beddit utilizes both the force sensor and the microphone of your mobile device to recognize your own snoring from your partner’s snoring. In the morning, the Beddit app tells you how you slept and tells you how to sleep better. Wow! I’m not sure how it copes with other bedtime activities one might indulge in (maybe it could rate performance from 1 to 10), pets that curl up with you at night or children that invade your space from time to time.

Samsung’s Smart Home service puts people in control of their devices and home appliances with one application that connects them all to a smartphone or wearable device like the Galaxy Gear. You can now manage home devices from washing machines to light bulbs to air conditioners, whether you’re at home or away on the road using voice commands – for instance just say “Going Out” to your Galaxy Gear and you can turn off the TV and the lights. How did possibly we survive so long without this gem?

Not to be outdone, LG has unveiled a HomeChat system that allows users to send text messages to appliances and then get responses. Imagine being able to text “what are you up to?” to a washing machine for example, and get a reply such as: “I’m just finishing the spin cycle, I won’t be long.” Users could also tell a washing machine to start a load of laundry or a robotic vacuum cleaner to clean up before they get home, while fridges could tell owners how much food or drink it has left. Hmmm!

Kolibree’s electric toothbrush keeps track of brushing habits and techniques by analyzing the movements and the length of brushing with monitoring and scoring scales. It sends data to your smartphone with notes on whether you brushed long enough and reached the important parts of your teeth and gums. It can also be configured to track the brushing data of family and friends if that’s your thing!

Pets, too, will surely benefit from Whistle, is a wireless based sensor device attached to a dog’s collar that collects data depending on a dog’s age, breed and weight during the day. Linking to an iOS device will reveal how much and how quickly the dog has moved around by tracking the dog’s exact location using GPS, an accelerometer and cellular wireless technology. What ever happened to walking the dog?

Mother speaks to sensors called Cookies that you can stick to any items in your house via a Wi-Fi network. These magical devices connected to fridge door will tell you how many times it was opened. Connected to a water bottle it will remind you to drink more. Connected to your mattress it will wake you at ‘the perfect time’ (whatever that is). Connected to a wall it will warn you if the room gets cold (presumably in case you have no sense whatsoever).

And how have tennis players survived without Pure Drive, a racquet with embedded sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers on the handle, which count and measure strokes, ball speed and where the ball hits the strings?

Perhaps the king of really stupid IoT things is BitBite, an in-ear device that helps track and improve eating habits by analyzing the sounds and patterns of your chewing, among other things. Among the data the associated app displays is chewing quality, bite count and calories consumed. It also acts as a coach by offering tips on improving your eating habits and calorie intake. I kid you not!

I assume it won’t be long before we have associated device that measure not only what goes in but what comes out as well. Perhaps this will analyze the quality and quantity of the output and guide us to better eating and drinking habits. I can’t wait!

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About the Author

About the Author: Tony is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide. .

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  1. Alex Leslie says:

    Just watching Twitter, if that is the term I need, the last day or so included news that Victoria’s Secret has launched (if that is the term I need) a bra with a heart monitor in it, and a company that is selling a wristband that gives you an electric shock if you have been watching Twitter (other brands of websites available) too long. Let’s hope our fridges don’t malfunction and order a year’s supply of avocados at once.

  2. Chris Mills says:

    Tony, that these apps may indeed may make your life better is a truly sad state of affairs, but many will likely be killed crossing the road while checking their apps, so on balance it’s probably a wash. Perhaps there’s an app that can triangulate users and the road, shutting down all apps as the critical moment approaches? No, that would never work – footpaths would become too crowded with the dazed and confused. Perhaps we’ll just leave things the way they are.

  3. Bob says:

    I actually like the idea of chatty appliances but does everything have to be text driven? For example, I’m in the study now, but I’d quite like to shout through to the kitchen ‘hey oven, how are those sausages coming along?’ and have it reply ‘good to go now, Bob, but another ten minutes wouldn’t hurt’, and so on. Similarly I’d like to be able to shout at the radio to turn itself down a bit and at the the coffee maker to get me a double espresso, I’ll be ready for it in ten minutes.
    With my new ‘chatty appliances’ concept, the homeworking day could be a much more sociable experience…

  4. Alan says:

    Most of the marketing on IoT in telecoms is weak-minded BS. But the bed tracker can be important for the elderly. Enables them to live independently longer as health conditions can be detected before they become a significant issue. For example, how much they sleep and the quality of that sleep combined with how often they get out of bed and go to the loo – there are also monitors there – check out Healthsense.com. Here’s a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjZkluwyZfk. Put simply – your parents remain independent longer and health conditions can be resolved before they become an issue – a health care visit rather than a hospital visit. A sleep tracker sounds silly but it has a niche role.

  5. Paul Koller says:

    Long time fan of the ‘non-silly’ IoT’s. Massive potential, possibilities & solutions from individual & networked devices in many key fields covering domestic & commercial applications.
    The ratio of ‘non-silly’ to ‘silly’ is itself starting to get a bit silly. But that will sort itself out in the wash.

    My primary concern over IoT is not the ‘why’ – rather it’s the ‘when’.

    The absolute inevitability of ‘when’ these networked devices – that homes & businesses embed into their infrastructures and totally rely on – are targeted – by the clever kid, the industrial hacker, the malicious competitor & the terrorist et al.

    ‘Technology has always been a double edged sword – fire kept us warm and cooked our food but also burned down our villages.
    Apply the promise of exponentially growing information technologies to overcome age old challenges of humankind while at the same time understand and contain the perils’ – Ray Kurzwell, Inventor.

    I love the possibilities but I’m terrified about the potential ramifications – when – the shit hits the fan.

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