Internet of Silly Things

Written by on November 7, 2014 in Opinion with 5 Comments

Great leaps in technology seem to coincide with great leaps in human stupidity. In the search for the next big thing, the killer app or the technology breakthrough that will make all our lives easier we manage to come up with the most ridiculous things and pretend they may, one day, be of use.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has already attracted more than its fair share of weird concepts considering its relatively young age. Like lemmings to the cliff edge, appliance companies vying to be innovative or ‘hip’ are inflicting some ridiculous concepts onto an unsuspecting market. Sadly though, there will probably be enough rich show-offs to take the bait, but in the long-term you have to ask – why?

For example, why would anyone fork out hard-earned money on a refrigerator that has a touch-screen in the door and talks to you? The excuses for such frivolity include it being an ‘ideal’ assistant for looking up recipes on the internet, including an automated system that could read barcodes as goods are put in, warn of impending use-by dates and order replacement stock online without you ever having to put pen to paper for a shopping list. Its most useful purpose, however, will probably be as a photo frame.

But it gets better! Whirlpool has released a washer and dryer that can be controlled remotely by an app on a mobile phone. It even sends you a message when the clothes are done just in case you forget you put them in there in the first place. Unfortunately, the technology has yet been developed to place the dirty clothes in the washer and transfer them to the dryer then iron them and place them neatly back in the wardrobe. Now that would be cool but not as cool as finding lost socks that will have RFID tags attached.

You can already open and close your garage door from your phone but if you do it whilst driving your car you will probably get fined. You can also control your home heating and cooling, hot water systems and lock or unlock your front door remotely, but why would you need to when you can set the thermostat and timers to do all of that already and keep the door keys under a rock?

Maybe smart garden sprinklers will find a market coming on when the ground is dry and knowing when restrictions are in place. Maybe even an advanced robot mower that comes out when the grass is long, or one of those robot vacuum cleaners that senses when dust levels have reached your predetermined limit and empty themselves when the bag fills.

All these brilliant human aids will need to be connected to be effective and then they could fall foul of those evil hackers or mischief makers that might find it fun to trash your house while you at work by making them do things they shouldn’t.

Regardless of the risks, the question that needs to be asked is do we really need to have every single appliance, device, vehicle, aircon system, even whole homes and buildings connected? Or are we just looking for excuses to sell new technology and services that may serve no purpose whatsoever?

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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. Nice one Tony, I absolutely agree how can an internet connected washing machine ever be considered useful!?

  2. Hi Tony, Always amusing reading your blogs. This time I thought I comment too:-)
    Viewing the connected refrigerator or washing machine etc. in isolation of each other, yeah. However, I think in the context of the domestic ecosystem it all get a different spin. Connected home to have elderly staying at home longer and having relatives to feel at ease. Being able to have sensors in a fridge for relatives to see what is missing in order to buy stuff on the way to visit, or power off a washing machine to save electricity.
    What do you think?

    • Tony Poulos says:

      That’s a good example Cato, but not sure the elderly will be able to cope with that level of technology but there is no doubt that the healthcare sector will thrive on IoT, but not the silly stuff.

  3. I agree, they will not. However relatives will.
    I installed horizontal M2M at my mothers place after she had a stroke, and my sister were delighted. She was always worried that my mother left the kettle on or had taken the pill from the pill tray, if groceries had been delivered etc. I had them all connected to the M2M box and installed the app on my sisters phone.

  4. Robin Burton says:

    It does make sense in the arena of home security. However it needs joined up solutions. For example when the burglar alarm goes off, you are alerted on your phone. You log on to your internet enabled cameras, have a look round, and then either call the police or re-set the alarm.
    Or a delivery driver calls and rings the doorbell. You are alerted and see a picture of him. You talk to him via a speaker in the door access and, if satisfied, open the door to allow him to drop the package, keeping an eye on him by camera in the meantime.
    Good stuff, but needs to be packaged and properly integrated before the average person might adopt it.

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