Wednesday, 13 July 2011

3 Pointless Smart Kitchen Appliances and How They Could Be Improved


During every tech show there's always a bit where some company will show off their latest inventions for 'smart home' technology. Sounds brilliant, but why are they always such pointless products.

Take for instance the LG appliances from this  BBC Click video  Smart kitchen appliances connected to the Web. So what's LG's vision of the future kitchen.

1: Smart Oven
Pointless: An oven that can control using your phone over WiFi and it connects to the internet so that you can see recipes. Wow! That's amazing I hear you say. And you're right. But why would you want it? Most people I know don't live in a house big enough to need anything other than a beep from the oven. As for the recipes, This is the most pointless feature ever! Why would you want to read recipices of a tiny little screen that you can't move to a more convenient location, like the worktop where you'll actually make the recipe. Can you really see people dashing back and forth across the kitchen to consult a small screen on the oven. No! Not when they probably already have a computer, table, phone or book that it would be much easier to use.

Improved: (a) If it knew when you were going to burn something, and alerted, that would be smart. Or even better if it (b) automatically knew what heat and how long to cook for. Or (c) what if it connected to the energy monitor and told me how much gas or electricity I've used, and what that has cost me.

2: Smart Fridge
Pointless: It has a screen that tell you what's inside, which as the reporter points out can also be achieved by opening the door. It has a rubbish interface to try to keep track of what's in there. Ok, so maybe I can see a potential where you're coming home past the super market, but you can't remember what you have in the fridge. So you're not sure what to buy. The real pitfall is that every time I go into a supermarket I have zero signal. Why is that? Do they bock it on purpose?

Improved: It has to automatically know what's in the fridge to be useful. Then maybe it could offer (a) recipe suggestions, or (b) tell you when things are out of date. Or maybe (c) alert you that the kids are raiding the fridge in the middle of the night. Again it should (d) connect to an energy monitor to report how much is costing to run.

3: Smart Washing Machine
Pointless: Of course it's connected to the net, so you can download specialist washing cycles. And it can let you know on your phone that it's finished. I'm not sure about anyone else but we generally only use one cycle of the many available on our washing machine. It's the one that costs us the least in water, electricity, washing powder and fabric softener.

Improved: How about if the washing machine (a) alerted you that it was going to rain later, so don't bother putting it on. Or it (b) alerts you that today is a great day for getting the washing dry. Another good feature would be (c) automatically detecting the red sock that gets caught up in a white wash. And surprise, surprise (d) connect to an energy monitor so you can see how much it's costing you.

Here's my suggestions for 5 ways to improve all future home technology.

Not Everything Should Be Computer Controlled
The world where everything is computer controlled would be a nightmare. It's bad enough when your computer crashes or get a virus let alone the fridge.
Imagine, if you're trying to work from home, but connection is rubbish because your washing machine is applying security updates or the oven is sending a crash report.
I wish these companies would stop trying to find solutions to problems that don't exist and start fixing real issues. Ones that could actually save me money, not cost me more money.

More on smart homes of the future: More Laughable Future Smart Homes