[IoT] Things That Should NOT Be Connected To The Internet

Category: Gadgets , Privacy

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to be the biggest explosion of mostly useless stuff since domain names first went on sale. You name it, and someone is giving it an IP address. But in the headlong rush to connect every particle of matter on Earth to the Internet, we really need to pause and consider all the things that should not be connected…

Are We Too Connected?

I'm fine with desktops, laptops and smartphones being connected to the Internet. A smart TV that can display online content seems to be a good thing, too. And just maybe, the refrigerator.

Samsung's new Family Hub refrigerator debuted at the 2016 Consumer Electronics show, and includes cameras and sensors that let you see inside the $5000 fridge via your smartphone. No more wondering if you're out of milk while shopping. It can even help you order groceries and monitor your family’s eating habits.

The $149 Crock Pot(™) that can be controlled remotely via WiFi or LTE using the WeMo app seems to defeat the “set it and forget it” appeal of this venerable slow-cooking method. The website promises that you can use your smartphone to schedule or adjust cooking times and temperature.

Things that should NOT be connected to the Internet

Belkin's WeMo technology provides the "smarts" behind this and other kitchen gadgets that can be controlled via the Internet. Mr. Coffee is online, as are the Holmes Smart Humidifier, Smart Heater, and Smart Air Purifier. Let's hope these devices provide a modicum of protection from hackers who might want to burn your pot roast, mess with Mr. Coffee's brew settings, or turn up the heat in your family room.

Speaking of security and connected gadgets on the Internet of Things (IoT), I reported in a recent Geekly Update that the Ring Video Doorbell had a flaw (now fixed) that would allow an intruder to remove two screws, press a reset button on the device, and grab your wifi password.

Crossing a Line?

Despite the extra cost and security concerns, I can see some usefulness in most of these things. But my toothbrush and other (very) personal items? No thanks, Internet. Stay out of my bathroom. Here are some things that I think should definitely remain DIS-connected from the online world...

Baby monitors are designed to be cute and cheap, not secure. A Houston couple learned the hard way that their WiFi-connected baby monitor contained a Web-based control console with no password protection. Late one night, some creep hacked into the device and started shouting obscenities at their sleeping 2 month-old daughter. Oh, and if your baby monitor has a Web camera, your precious snowflake may end up starring in the wrong kind of show.

Did you think I was kidding about toothbrushes on the Internet of Things? The Oral-B Genius(™) electric toothbrush watches you - closely - as you brush your teeth. The included "practical smartphone holder" attaches to the bathroom mirror with a suction cup (not very practical, I suspect) so that the phone’s camera can record your every up, down, and sideway movement. The included app uses Oral-B's Position Detection Technology to tell you when you are not brushing at the correct angle, exerting too much or too little pressure, and when you have adequately brushed each section of your teeth. Of course, it saves and organizes this data for your later reading pleasure. For no reason at all, the Genius is also capable of illuminating your teeth in any of 12 colors.

Toothbrushing isn't even the most private activity that the IoT invades. The First Response Pregnancy PRO Digital Pregnancy Test and App works essentially the same as time-tested pee-on-a-stick tests. But the related smartphone app tells you if the device is working properly, and whether you have provided a sufficient sample. Useful information but it hardly seems to justify all the tech. And then it gets silly.

While you wait for the three-minute timer to go off, the app offers three reading options: "Educate Me" with fertility info, "Entertain Me" with videos from Buzzfeed, or "Calm Me" with serene music. And then it gets serious. You can indicate to the app whether you want to be pregnant or not. If you do, you get a mechanical congratulations if the test is positive, or helpful info on how to have better luck next time if you’re not. If you indicate that you do not want to be pregnant, the app gives “neutral” pregnancy symptoms if the test is positive, or advice on how to avoid pregnancy if the test is negative. You can even get coupons for related products.

The only thing missing is a button to "share" the experience on Facebook. The device connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, so you might be wondering how this exposes your privacy to the cyberworld. Your test results are stored on the phone, and so is the related app. And your phone is connected to the Internet. If creeps can hack into baby monitors (and "secure" government websites), do you really want sensitive info like this on your mobile phone?

All this for $21.79 plus shipping at Amazon. For the same money, you can get about 45 old-fashioned stick tests. They’ll do the job just as well as long as you can see the difference between one line and two lines. What women don’t get is the emotional support that they crave most during this most harrowing three minutes of their lives. The general reaction to this overpriced gadget is “Ew!”

IoT Failures: Hope for Humanity?

The preceding are actual products on the market now. But there may be some good news, in that the market is rejecting some "not so smart" ideas before they have a chance to connect to the Internet of Things. Other IoT gadgets that have fallen by the wayside already include:

The CycleAT bicycle tire that streams real-time inflation pressure, temperature, lean angle, and more dangerous distractions to a smartphone app garnered only $32,055 of its $80,000 Kickstarter goal, so it’s a non-starter.

A $199 diaper bag that informs you, via a smartphone app, what’s inside of it; that’s the Baggio “world’s coolest diaper bag.” Sure, your nose is free, but it won’t tell you how many baby wipes remain, or where you put the bag down in a store, or that you forgot baby’s bottle, or why this thing raised even $4,950 of its $30,000 Indiegogo goal.

Many, many more things should not be connected to the Internet, but we can be sure someone will try. What product(s) do you think should remain in the offline world? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "[IoT] Things That Should NOT Be Connected To The Internet"

Posted by:

Tom S.
25 Feb 2016

*facepalm*

... and this, gentle readers, is why 99.99% of IoT and things that utilize it would go into either the category of "Not On Your Tintype" or "Things I Won't Touch With A Ten Foot Barge Pole"...


Posted by:

Grandpa Chet
25 Feb 2016

Toilet paper and its attendant roll holder - the mind creeps when one realizes that somewhere, someone is thinking of developing such an app.


Posted by:

Anthony J.
25 Feb 2016

Amen Tom S. and Bob R. !!

God Bless America !


Posted by:

Mark
25 Feb 2016

One group might benefit greatly from the IoT. Blind and visually impaired people often find that common appliances are inaccessible. Washers and dryers, stoves, and microwave ovens now use touch screens instead of mechanical knobs. Try using a touch screen with your eyes closed, and you will realize that the technology doesn't work well for blind and visually impaired people. A device that uses a touch screen might serve such people well if it is Internet-enabled and if the app itself is accessible.

Some people believe that smart phones and their apps are completely inaccessible to blind people, but they are not.


Posted by:

Hawk
25 Feb 2016

I recently saw a tv show where smart running shoes were used by a serial killer.

I'm sorry, but ... Smart running shoes? Really?

Have people lost their ever loving minds?

What's next? Smart toilet paper?

And I, for one, can't afford a smart phone, so I guess I'll just have to have a 'dumb' house and lead a dumb life.


Posted by:

Anne Kaplan
25 Feb 2016

Smartphones and tablets can and should be protected by products such as Avast! and Malwarebytes. Is there any way to similarly protect a SmartTV? If not, is it really wise to connect one, or any unprotected device, to one's home or business network?


Posted by:

Glen
25 Feb 2016

"Smart" might not be smart after all. It allows too much insight into our personal lives.There is a limit to what people should involve "Smart" Less is better. (For your own safety)


Posted by:

Robert A
25 Feb 2016

How lazy have we become? It seems the Internet of Things is a further march down that road to a world where we do little thinking on our own, but instead let Apple, Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg's, Best Buy and Macy's, among others, to make all our decisions for us, rendering our minds and bodies into useless blobs, fixated on getting some thrills from some glowing or beeping device, rather than living a true social life.

How hard is it to take a moment and pop your head into the refrigerator to see if you need to buy another gallon of milk, a head of lettuce or a bottle of ketchup? And then to remember those needs? And, if you're like me, you probably have three or four boxes of cereal in the cupboard. So what if you use up the last of the Cheerios? There's always the Wheaties, corn flakes, raisin bran or Capt. Crunch as an alternative. No one is going to starve or get bored to death because our first choice isn't available.

I'm reminded of the futuristic hit song from 1969, "In The Year 2525," by Zager & Evans. The song bemoaned the fact that as time progressed, humanity had become less and less viable as it depended more and more on technology and the "wonders" of science, rather than thinking and human interaction. Thinking about the song, I think maybe their timetable for the world may have been 500 years too late.


Posted by:

JJ
25 Feb 2016


Imagine one late evening you use your computer to click on something risque', for whatever reason.

Now imagine a day soon after, when your "smart" TV displays advertisements or TV shows "tailored to your viewing habits" that were influenced by what you used your computer for earlier.

While your family and friends are all gathered.

Oops.

No thanks.



Posted by:

Chuck
25 Feb 2016

The trouble with many of these gadgets is that that many people end up working for the gadgets. The gadgets should work for them.

I personally don't have the time for most of these "labor saving" devices and their empty promises.

Get off the couch--keep moving. You will live longerand better.


Posted by:

pmwill
26 Feb 2016

Gee you could control that ridiculous robot rat vacuum cleaner with an app from your work desk or it could call you and tell you it done for the day.
At least the comments hit all the truths about peoples weird thoughts and how lazy.
Don't get me started on a smart toilet you know that French thing. Much fun article, Thanks.


Posted by:

Jerry
26 Feb 2016

Sometimes, I have serious doubts as to whether my pc should even be hooked up to the internet.


Posted by:

rocketride
26 Feb 2016

The Internet of Things Man Was Not Meant to Know...


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
26 Feb 2016

When you did an article on the Nest products for heating & cooling, plus what could be done for the future of IoT, I got very nervous! I am glad that I am older and will not see what the IoT will do for the future.

Question: Does the IoT have anything to do with Big Brother? From what I am reading, it very easily could be Big Brother. Bummer :(

This is what bothers me the most. I will do anything to protect my great grandchildren. Hopefully, their grandparents will do the same, when I no longer can manage things. This is what I worry about the most, 2 of my girls not knowing what to do with computer things & Wi-Fi things.


Posted by:

David
27 Feb 2016

"Smart toilet paper" is so 2014:

http://www.cnet.com/news/smart-toilet-paper-holder-wont-be-ignored-when-it-runs-out/

All it needs is an Amazon button that re-orders with one press.

JJ: "Imagine one late evening you use your computer to click on something risque', for whatever reason"

There's more than one reason? :-)


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