5 Most Pointless Smart Life Devices to Stay Away From

9 Oct 2022

Not everything needs to be smart.

Not everything needs to be quantified.

I’m all for outsourcing our thinking when it makes sense, but even in the niche cases where that applies most of these things can be replaced by a free phone app. It’ll be more convenient, less wasteful, and you won’t be boosting your notification overload for no reason.

At the time of writing, all of the devices below are available to buy. It’s a shame because it means I can’t talk about the Brita Infinity (a water jug that orders it’s own filters when it feels like it), or the Juicero (probably the best example of Silicon Valley over-engineering you can imagine), or even the Hari Kari smart flip flops.

Maybe another time I’ll talk about the biggest and most predictable failures in smart life devices. For now I’m giving you a heads up on what to avoid.

#5 Smart Life Water Bottles

I don’t need a #@$^ing water bottle to tell me when I’m thirsty, My nervous system has evolved over millions of years to give me a sense of thirst.

If you’re going to splurge $100 on a water bottle, you’d be better off getting one of those stupid ones with the crystal for health, rather than a smart life device bottle. Sure, they’re both pointless, but the crystal one doesn’t need to be recharged on a regular basis. Just set a reminder on your phone. Done.

I’m not going to pick on any one brand or model for this one. They’re all equally depressing. Some come with bluetooth speakers built in (so that you can not only have a useless device, but also use it to be publicly obnoxious). Others have temperature sensors, or trackers to make sure you’ve drunk enough water (hint: if you’re thirsty, you haven’t).

If you absolutely can’t work out to drink when you’re thirsty, just get one of those hydration apps for your phone. There, I’ve just saved you $100.

#4 Anything that Orders its Own Consumables

A bit generic this time. I want you to think about how much you trust Amazon and your smart life device maker. Sit down and think about it for a minute. Then we’ll look at an example.

The Amazon Dash Replenishment service is one of a number which let ‘smart’ device manufacturers order their own replacement consumables. Sounds handy, until you realise you’re just giving them access to take as much money as they want so that your printer can order its own replacements.

Again, how much do you trust the manufacturer and Amazon here? How hard is it to check when you’re running out and order replacements? Or even face the day of inconvenience not being able to use your printer because you ran out.

Some things shouldn’t be delegated. Trusting massive companies to make supply decisions in your best interest is one of those.

#3 Smart Life Device Microwave Ovens

At first glance, this piece of $#!+ almost makes sense. Almost. When you’re making your cup of tea, who doesn’t want to just yell at the microwave how long it should run for. Or use an app. Far more convenient than walking up to it.

Except, ah. Right.

If you’re using a microwave, you are going to have to walk up to it to put something in. You’ll need to physically go there again to take something out.

The Toshiba model here has a remote control, works with Alexa, has an app, all the options.

Let's be honest though, you’ll only ever use those controls on the front, because it is far more convenient to throw the bag of popcorn in, hit the button, and go than to stand up, put the popcorn in, hunt ten minutes for the remote, yell at the Alexa a half dozen times until it misinterprets and starts heating for an hour, and get the fire extinguisher out.

A smart microwave adds no convenience, and comes with the risk of voice recognition errors burning down your house. Anyone buying one of these probably deserves that.

#2 Smart Life Device Kettles

If you want to make the  Brits proud, don’t make tea in the microwave. You might want a kettle.

If you’re not familiar with them, an electric kettle is a jug shaped device plugged into mains, with a switch. You fill it with water, and hit the switch. The kettle boils the water, that’s it.

So of course in the desperate scramble to bring tech to places where it adds absolutely no value, we have the smart kettle.

All I can conclude is this is a sign of the end times.

The smart kettle lets you boil water remotely.

Really, that’s it. You still need to stand up to fill it with water. You still need to pour out the boiling water. It adds absolutely nothing to the process.

Okay, sure. Some of them let you set the temperature the water should heat to. If you’re making almost anything where you’re using a kettle, you want boiling water. The only exception would be coffee, and if you’re using a kettle for making you’re already a heathen who needs to invest in a good coffee machine instead.

#1 Smart Device Pet S#1^^er

I’m sure pet owners everywhere can see the point of a self-cleaning pet crapper. That makes sense, if you’re too lazy to take a few minutes to maintain them, sure, I get it.

But this goes beyond that. A long way beyond.

Do you want to know every time your cat takes a 5#!t? How about every time your dog takes a p!$$? Do you want to track the average weight of each or how much time they spend in there (just in case they’re hiding and reading the newspaper)?

If the answer is yes, and you have over half a grand to throw at your zoocoprophilia, one of these smart life device litter trays or dog toilets might be for you.

Final Thoughts and Honorable Mentions

These are far from the only pointless smart life devices out there. Startups are still getting investment for these things, and it is beyond me to explain why. The world has gone mad.

There’s a smart battery designed for smoke alarms which will alert you when the battery is running low, in case the incessant beeping doesn’t already drive you mad. Of course because it’s a smart device it doesn’t last as long as a normal battery!

A smart salt shaker with mood lighting and a Bluetooth speaker will somehow make your life complete, if candles are too complicated and the other dozens of devices with speakers built in that live in your house aren’t enough.

Not everything needs to be turned into some £@%$ing smart device at a massive mark-up and a huge waste of human innovation and ingenuity. Stop it.