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.
‘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?