We’re starting to see an explosion in the number of connected devices. Now it isn’t just our computers or our phones that are smart - everything from our thermostats to our lightbulbs are now silently sitting in our homes while sending data up to the cloud.
But is all of this really necessary? Obviously as tech enthusiasts bolting a wifi chip to even the most mundane objects will capture our curiosity… but do they really deserve our attention? Here’s ten gadgets that we think - on balance - probably don’t need to be smart.
- Read more: 11 moonshot ideas Google should tackle next
As if a housing crisis, uncertainty over Europe and the prospect of President Trump were not enough to worry about, Oral B has invented a device that will add to your anxieties. Are you sure that you’re brushing your teeth correctly?
The Oral B Pro 6500 is an electric toothbrush that will hook up to an app on your phone, so that when you brush you’ll be given “real time guidance” in order to receive what an advertising copywriter described as “focused care through personalised dental care journies” before they fell to the ground and despaired about the world.
Amazingly, for any developers reading who want to get in on this action there’s an open API and Software Development Kit available, so you can hook up the toothbrush to your own app, or access the user’s historic brushing data. To think that our grandparents are contemptuous of our generation.
If you enjoy all of the frustration of having to buy expensive new ink cartridges for your printer, and you like coffee, then you’ll no doubt already have a Nespresso machine. And now Nestle have found another way to sell you another: Bluetooth.
The Nespresso Prodigio will brew you up an Espresso at the touch of a button on your smartphone. You can even set a schedule, or check how many capsules you have left… and even use the app to order up some more.
That’s right - now even your coffee maker will have an app. For some reason.
When Amazon first announced “Dash” buttons on the 31st March 2015, many people wondered if they were an early April Fools joke. The idea was that you’d have buttons in your kitchen to press which would automatically order new washing up liquid, or dishwasher salt (and so on) with the press of a button. But what was less obvious was that Amazon wasn’t just building a gadget, but a platform.
Now the company has teamed up with Brita to create a wifi powered water pitcher - the Brita Infinity Pitcher. The idea is that it will monitor how much water goes through it, and when it hits 40 litres, it’ll order a new filter from Amazon automatically.
We admit it sort-of clever… but… really? Is it really necessary?
Roomba robot vacuum cleaners were first introduced in 2002, and amazingly, it took thirteen years for iRobot to think of adding wifi, so that they could be controlled via app. Because hey - why leave a vacuum cleaner that is literally described as a robot to clean up, when you can sit there and pilot the thing manually?
Roomba isn’t the only robot. Neato is a very similar device which comes with wifi in order to fully integrate with the Internet of Things… presumably so that you can lie on the beach thousands of miles away, yet still have an easy way to adjust the settings on your vacuum cleaner.
Now you can display your personality and accentuate your flairs for up to 2.5 hours at a time, thanks to the Pins Collective, which has come up with a bluetooth connected pin badge.
That’s right. We’re no longer living in an age when you might have to charge up your book or your cigarette via USB, but you’ll have to plug in your accessories too.
At 5cm in diameter and containing a round 1.34 inch screen, the tiny display will show an image or video of your choosing after you have hooked it up via bluetooth to your phone. A video running at 30fps will last 2.5 hours, and a still image will last for 74 hours on the reflexive LCD display.
The app comes with a built in designer so you can make sure it displays whatever you need it to. And there’s also an SDK so developers can take advantage of it too. We think we’d probably program it to say “WHY?”.
We all want to do our bit for the environment, and saving water is a good way to go about doing that. But do we really want to be given a grade every time we step into the show?
The Amphiro water meter screws in between your showerhead and the pipe connected to it, and will monitor water output. At the end of your shower it will use bluetooth to send your data up to the cloud, and will grade you from A to E on just how energy efficient your shower was. The makers reckon it could save 440kWh of electricity and 8500 liters of water per year.
But do you really want to have to choose between having a long shower and being called on your crimes against the environment, or having a quick shower and stinking up your work colleagues?
Some people get their best ideas not sat staring at a blank page, but while sat on the toilet. Which is perhaps why someone at Lixil invented the bluetooth toilet.
First released in 2012, as reported by Recombu the toilet has a companion phone app which can be used to adjust the temperature of the seat, raise or close the lid, flush or control the bidet function. There’s even built in speakers in case you want to listen to something to, umm, get you in the mood.
Though be warned - smart toilets can also be hacked, as the Mirror reported earlier this year. (Though it’s unclear if it is the same model.)
If you want to be the best, you have to train for it. Which is why Wilson has created the Wilson X Connected Basketball, to help players measure their performance on the court. The built in “smart sensor” will track makes and misses, and even the range at which you took each shot - and then send the analytics to the Wilson app to let you know how to improve.
The company claims the battery will last for 100,000 throws - or enough for 300 shots per day for a year. And the app will even play match-style sound effects as you play - such as crowd noise and clock countdowns. And different game modes should hopefully motivate you to keep shooting.
It’s almost enough to make you forget that you just spent £150 on a robo-basketball which you can’t recharge.
If you’re simultaneously both too lazy to write down two or three digit numbers and yet motivated enough to do some DIY, then the eTape16 bluetooth tape measure could be for you.
Yep, it’s like a bastard chimera of a tape measure and a classic iPod, with digital-watch style LCD display for good measure. Its supports both imperial and metric measurements, and can switch from measuring front-to-back to back-to-front. The bluetooth functionality can then automatically send measurements to a spreadsheet on your phone. The price? $50 (around £35) - or seven or eight times the price of a regular tape measure.
It’s like we’ve ran out of things to invent.
And finally…. the internet fridge. Such a device has long been the butt of every joke about the Internet of Things, and yet still companies like Samsung are persisting in trying to make internet fridges happen.
Samsung’s Family Hub Refrigerator has three built in cameras to monitor your food whenever you like (really), and comes with a built in screen capable of displaying calendars, photos and notes - and will even play music or mirror video from your TV.
Given that fridges are upgraded maybe once every ten years, and phones/tablets every single year, don’t be surprised if by 2020 half of the software for your fridge is broken.