The Internet of Things started off as a way to turn on a few lights and control the climate in your home. Then as manufacturers ran out of bulbs and thermostats to shove chips into they looked to connect the rest of the devices in the home, sometimes for better, but a lot of times for worse. The result is a dizzying array of smart devices that are answers to problems no one actually has.
Large and small companies continue to push out products that make little sense just to be part of the connected home market that's supposed to be worth billions... eventually. Items like smart refrigerators and washing machines are over-engineered novelties that push the controls to your smartphone for no other reason than the assumption that everything is better with an app.
So instead of addressing larger issues with the connected home in 2015 -- like lack of a standard communications platform. -- companies just keep making apps that connect to their hardware.
For example a refrigerator from Bosch has two cameras that take photos every time you open the door and uploads them to an app. The sales pitch is that you can see what you're running low on while you're at the store. Unless you place larger items at the front of the shelves and now you can't see if you're out of cheese because the milk or orange juice are blocking the view.
For pet lovers, the failed-to-secure-funding-but-got-a-ton-of-press Pura smart water fountain for cats tracked your feline's liquid intake. The companion app noted consumption that helped indicate if your pet was having health issues. Of course you could also just look at the water bowl at the end of the day and pay attention to the behavior of your four-legged friend.
For the sommelier set, a smart wine bottle is coming that alerts you when it's been opened. Something that for hundreds of years was accomplished by just looking at the top of the bottle.
Then there's Pantelligent, which was announced in 2014, but didn't ship until this year. In case you forgot, it's a pan that tells you how hot it is. Oh, not by displaying the temperature on the handle, but via an app. This is what happens when a good idea is ruined by the push to make everything smart. The companion app does include tips on how to cook your food based on the thickness and cut of a piece of meat. Yet most of the time, you just want a pan to cook up your dinner and if it showed you how hot it was, that would be outstanding.
Unfortunately, with the annual technology-launching pad CES on the horizon, expect more of these nearly worthless gadgets that sync to a phone to appear. Maybe we'll see a smart couch that let's you know when your favorite show is on and when you have more than a dollar's worth of change in the cushions. There could also be a smart toilet that measures your TP usage and pings you when you're low. Think of the possibilities and realize that someone, somewhere is probably making that insane idea a reality.