[IoT] Things That Should NOT Be Connected To The Internet
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.
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Feb 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [IoT] Things That Should NOT Be Connected To The Internet (Posted: 25 Feb 2016)
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