As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, some smart products are starting to look pretty dumb.
A water bottle that tracks your H2O intake… A bowl that tracks your dog’s H2O intake… an umbrella that reminds you not to leave it behind… a tampon that reminds you when it’s time for a change?
All are products that have been announced by startups, or are already shipping. How about an egg tray that, when nearing empty, reminds you to buy more? Does everything really go better with Bluetooth?
Joanna Stern notes these in her May 26th article pointing out that between the falling price of parts, the popularity of crowdsourcing and the flood of cash into the tech industry, any object with room for a small battery and a chip is ripe for IOT-ing. Not that that’s a good thing, as she notes a new startup called MyFlow has just announced the smart tampon.
Now, to be clear, some ideas have their merits. Smart pill bottles for seniors or an EpiPen that sends out an alert when someone goes into anaphylactic shock make sense and could well save lives. A connected thermostat saves wasted energy, and thus money. But too often, some of the latest devices, such as those noted above, seem like solutions in search of problems. After all, as one such startup points out, is it really true that “Remembering to floss your teeth is hard…?”
Now, to be sure, there are some smart innovations on the way. The Week magazine pointed out a few in its May 27th issue that may make sense for some. The Garageio sends an alert when you’ve left your garage door open so you can close it remotely. The Stack Lightbulb changes brightness depending on the time of day. Perhaps the Oral-B that alerts you when you’re brushing too hard might be useful to some. And who wouldn’t want Samsung’s SmartThings, which can set off the sound of barking dogs when it detects an intruder?
As Stern notes in her WSJ article wrap-up, we “live in a time of so much experimentation, where every day we can witness the evolution of what becomes – and provides value — as a connected computer. But let’s not let these inventions take away our own ability to remember events and mind personal matters. After all, shouldn’t you already know anything your Bluetooth-connected toilet seat would like to tell you?”