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The Internet Of Numerous Needless Things

If you aren't familiar with American culture, a key feature is: more is better. Bigger is better. Got one car? You'd be twice as happy with two cars. Got a $10,000 car? You'd be four times happier with a $40,000 luxury car. Got a 1,000 square-foot home? You'd be five times happier with a 5,000 square-foot mansion. Got a handgun at home? You'd be five times safer with five handguns. This is how we roll in the USA.

And, that cultural attitude applies to mobile devices. An Internet-connected device must be better than one that isn't, right? After all, it's better to live in a "smart home" than a dumb home, right?

A recent New York Times article highlighted several questionable mobile devices. These new Internet-connected gadgets seem fine at first glance, but upon closer inspection don't seem to solve consumer needs; or provide inefficient, clumsy, and costly solutions. Allison Arieff wrote:

"... I was introduced to Leeo, a new product that I initially understood to be a reboot of something really in need of a redesign: the smoke detector. As the designer explained his process, I quickly came to understand that Leeo was nothing of the sort. It was a gadget, a night light that “listens” for your smoke detector to go off and then calls your smartphone to let you know your house might be on fire. So, to “improve” a $20 smoke alarm, the designer opted to add a $99 night light and a several-hundred-dollar smartphone. This is not good design."

I agree. Ms. Arieff proceeds to list several more questionable mobile devices. You can read the descriptions yourself. One of my favorites:

"... Mimo, a smart baby monitor built into a onesie ($199) that takes helicopter parenting to new heights (or lows). Mimo notifies you when your baby wakes up or changes her breathing pattern, body position or skin temperature... When Mimo is connected to other devices in your home and discerns that your baby is stirring, the lights turn on, coffee begins brewing and some Baby Mozart starts playing on the stereo. Given the erratic wake-up times of my child when she was an infant, I can only imagine the delight all this activity might bring to new parents at midnight, 3 and 5:30 a.m."

Anyone who has raised a child knows that an infant's screams efficiently wake up everyone in the home. That's efficient, effective design by Mother Nature. With a mobile onesie, who is in control: the parents or the infant? Geez.

You don't have to look far for more questionable devices. One device that comes to mind is the privacy-busting Hello Barbie doll by Mattel. One person shared his experience attempting to upgrade his apartment to "smart home" status: programmable lighting, sensors, and adjustable shades. He never got the mobile app to work, and found the process far from simple and affordable.

The Internet of Things is here as companies race to connect all of the mobile devices in your home. A 2014 survey found that 69 percent of consumers said privacy was their biggest concern with smart homes. The smart home will include a variety of Internet-connected appliances: televisions, home security systems, refrigerators, washing machines, smart thermostats, trash or recycle bins, and more.

What badly designed mobile devices have you encountered? Please share below.


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