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Has smart tech gone silly?

smart home

From salt shakers that play music and emit mood lighting to a hob that can tell you when to flip your pancake or add veg to your dish – is the next generation of smart products totally unnecessary?

There’s a strong argument that the desktop PC is the greatest invention in mankind’s history, barring perhaps fire, the printing press and the machine that injects caramel into the middle of biscuit bars.

Before the computer, tasks such as writing letters, calculating sums, organising a schedule and keeping atop of your personal finances all had to be done by hand. Computers are essentially a thousand ‘dumb’ technologies ‘smartened’ up and rolled into one.

And I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that the smartphone is a pretty big deal, too. No more memorising numbers, forgetting when to call people, or being tethered to a landline – or even a cellular signal of any sort. The telephone as it was known 50 years ago is all but obsolete, and, to my mind, that’s a good thing.

But does everything need to be smartened up? Cars will be the next to take the plunge, with fully automated self-driving models to become mainstream in the next 10 years or so. Safety is paramount, but there’s no denying that the pleasure (and skill) of driving will be lost when the big switchover comes. It’s a mixed bag, for sure, although an understandable and inevitable change.

But what about your kitchen hob? Or a salt shaker. Ever felt the need for those to be computer-integrated? If you’re one of the few people inexplicably nodding your head then I have some excellent news for you. If you’re sat in bemusement, I’m afraid you might not like what’s about to come.

Silly seasoning?

SMALT’ is the ‘world’s first interactive centrepiece and smart salt dispenser’. That is to say, it’s a robotic salt shaker that you can control via an app on your smartphone or with Amazon Echo. It also functions as a Bluetooth speaker and emits mood lighting, too. And, we should stress, it’s 100% real. Oh, and it can’t actually grind salt.

The idea is that by using the app rather than haphazardly sprinkling salt all over your meal it can help monitor your salt intake. You can choose how much it administers, such as a ‘pinch’ or ‘shake’, or even a precise measurement if you’re the sort who knows to what degree their meal should be seasoned.

I should emphasise, once again, that SMALT can’t actually grind salt. You simply load your regular table salt in to it and make do. ‘Shaker’ may be something of a misnomer as well, as it’s actually unclear as to whether or not you can even use it as a rudimentary manual dispenser should its rechargeable battery run out.

Then there’s the slightly (and only slightly) less ridiculous Tasty One Top. It’s a smart induction hob that sits atop your kitchen counter and connects with a recipe app to ensure that temperature, power and cooking time are adjusted automatically to give you the perfect meal every time. It’s made by monolithic content-aggregating website BuzzFeed.

The future is now, ladies and gentlemen. The only question is: does it actually have anything useful to offer?

Have you spotted any smart tech that borders on the ridiculous? Or do think more products should be smart? What smart gadget would you invent to make your life easier?

Comments
Member

Need is dictated by necessity the government is putting everything on-line , banks are on-line, you communicate with utility companies, supermarkets etc on-line, you buy on-line /sell on-line . What was once a novelty is now an essential but that doesn’t apply to the IoT -Internet of Things which is now big business for hackers- info gatherers – your government -third party advertising all to make money at your expense . Daily I get emails from various technical websites on this or that digital essential /non-essential domestic item that has been hacked . I have posted at length the number of ways you are spied upon and all those novelty digital items with Bluetooth etc with acknowledged dire security protection just make the publics personal secrets open-house to all . Of course out will come the- if you have nothing to hide brigade but do you want all your intimate moments with your wife recorded , analyzed and you “love ” rating published along with what breakfast cereal you eat how much you drink/smoke etc ? There is one advantage if they hear the sound of you dropping dead that means no more post from those vultures of death and big profit death “policy ” companies – their policy being pay for life and receive nothing , stop paying no refund ,high loss of total fund due to inflation etc. OF coarse most will ignore this advice as its – your neighbour has bought one so are you buying one “loser ” ? and look how shiny it is . Advertising has this country sown up.

Member

Silly – perhaps not.

Superfluous – certainly.

Member
bishbut says:
19 August 2017

Of course it has ! Manufacturers need gimmicks to sell things so keep coming up with new ones to tempt fools with more money than sense to buy unnecessary things and the fool’s always do they buy things they do not need just to say they have the latest thing ????

Member

I think the technical term for “fools with more money than sense to buy unnecessary things” is “consumers” 😉

Member

😂

Member

If we’re talking about the world’s greatest inventions I’d probably start with the Wheel, although it did need someone to invent a flat surface to go with it (not many wheels in nature). The Lever probably qualifies, too, without which we’d almost certainly not have had the Henges, Pyramids or any other large constructions. That brings in the Pulley system, then we have building done. Oh – and I nearly forgot the Nail.

Not sure Fire qualifies as an invention as such, since it was probably more of an unhappy accident of nature. But you could argue the same for the lever, I suppose. Or not. Rambling mode on

The magnetic Compass and Glass were, however, and when they invented lenses it really made a huge difference to the world’s greatest minds. Helped them create Gunpowder, which is probably up there as one of the greatest.

But we’ve moved into an era when the anticipation of untold wealth is leading to inventions in search of a purpose. Some hit it lucky, like the inventor of the humble Zip – Gideon Sundback. And the paper clip was very useful at one point in time.

Living in an area with no mobile signals whatsoever (that’s mountains for you) I don’t see the mobile ‘phone as a great invention; in fact, rather intrusive and, for many people, rather tying.

But I would place the harnessing of electricity as one of the greatest things the human race has achieved. It gives rise to something new almost every minute of every day, including the annoying mobile ‘phone ring tones that exert a mysterious force on their owners to suddenly start speaking VERY LOUDLY on quiet train carriages.

But the greatest invention? How about the internet?

Interesting topic.

Member

“But the greatest invention? How about the internet?”

How about agriculture?

Member

Not sure whether growing stuff can strictly be classed as an ‘invention’, Derek. More of an evolution, I suspect. People gradually became better at increasing crop yields and managing animals and crops. Now – the Tractor and Combine: they were inventions.