On The Record: The Internet Of Stupid Things


OPINION


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Every once in a while something comes along that is so preposterous it's silly and, dare I say it, stupid. The Internet of Things is beginning to slip into that category. It's already so bad I'm thinking of starting a comedy blog called "The Internet of Stupid Things." Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't believe we won't be connecting more devices in the future, it's just that this "Thing" already is being overdone with devices that have no real advantage by being connected to the Web and, quite frankly, have no business being connected because it does not solve a real problem.

Let me make my case by starting with the light bulb. It seems like everyone from the politicians who have outlawed the incandescent bulb in the name of the environment — which has resulted in thousands of mercury - laden fluorescent bulbs being dumped in landfills — to a lot of high-tech engineers that want to change something that works perfectly well already. I even watched in disbelief as Mark Cuban invested in a company on "Shark Tank" that is making $90 light bulbs that dim and turn on and off with a smartphone app.

Do we really need our light bulbs to have their own IP addresses so that we can manage them from our smartphone? Most people already spend too much time looking at their phones now. Some of the pitches to make you fork over $100 for something that used to cost $1 is that from your smartphone you can change the mood in your house to romantic, or flip on the light before you get there or, perhaps, have the light turn on to wake you in the morning.

Spare me, because the last time I checked my electrician located the switch right by the door so I can -flip on the light before I enter the room. He must have been a genius because some of those switches include a dimmer. So why would I want to spend $100 for something I can get for $1? Because it's the "Internet of Stupid Things," of course.

And how about the connected toilet? I really don't even want to go there so I will let you search for it online — but don't use Google because it's tracking this you-know-what. You really should use DuckDuckGo.com, which does not follow you.

Then there is the connected waste barrel. The claim here is that municipalities have been trying to figure out for decades when a barrel is full so they can empty it. Really? So now we are going to send a garbage truck down Fifth Avenue to empty one barrel and come back for the others on an as-full basis? Stupid.

Or the Internet-enabled diaper. This is really stupid but it's out there because, let's face it, nobody wants to walk around with a load in their pants. There's also the connected pill bottle that flashes when you don't take your medicine — OK, this one is kind of a good idea.

Then there are the connected slippers that radio back to the Web your stability when walking in them — all I can say here is stay off the sauce and you will walk straighter.

It's unbelievable how many stupid ideas exist to connect things that have no real reason to be connected other than to make some dummy a few bucks.

This is all starting to remind me of the RFID craze 10 years ago when everything was going to carry a tag. It never happened and, to be honest, I'm not buying connected light bulbs because the switch works  fine. So does the handle on my toilet. And when you need to check a diaper, your nose works just fine. Furthermore, I'm not sure I want Google tracking my constitution let alone selling data and advertising around it even if it does fall into the big data category.

BackTalk: Make something happen. Robert Faletra is CEO of The Channel Company. You can contact him via email at rfaletra@thechannelcompany.com.

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