You may believe your life is complete, but does your hairbrush give feedback on your brushing style? Do your kitchen appliances know more about your eating habits than you do? Do your animals have social media profiles? Probably not, but have no fear: everything you own is gradually being put online, solving problems you didn’t know you had and making your life just that much weirder.
Video chat, Fitbits, and Twitter, for your pets
You probably already knew that smart, automatic pet-feeders existed, and honestly, that’s not such a weird idea. What if they included two-way video chat and a treat thrower, though? Because they do, and these pet monitors/feeding devices can also:
- play with your animals using laser pointers
- see them in the dark using night vision,
- alert you when they bark
- recognize the difference between a dog and other objects using computer vision
- give your pets a button that lets them call you
No one device contains all of these features (yet), but it’s only a matter of time before we get a machine that your pets love more than they love you.
If your pet is hitting the treats too hard, though, you might want to work on keeping their weight down. That’s why you can get activity trackers for dogs and cats (and cows). Being able to track your pet via GPS is actually a great idea, but why stop there? Let’s track their sleep quality, caloric intake, and daily activity patterns. As a bonus, this may actually motivate you to be a better human.
But if a dog works out and doesn’t post about it on social media, did it really happen? Definitely not, which is why you can buy a dog collar that will tweet one of 500 preset phrases to your dog’s Twitter account whenever they bark (though Mattel has discontinued this product, so it may or may not work for you). Since AI bark translation software is in the works, it’s only a matter of time before we find out how dogs really feel about the economy.
If you feel like all the good IoT devices are for dogs, though, don’t worry – you can also get a cat bowl that uses facial recognition to only unlock the food for your cat (or other pet). As if your cat needs another excuse to act like they don’t need you.
IoT = Internet of Toasters?
One of the very first IoT devices was a toaster, so it’s frankly a little disturbing that there aren’t a zillion models to choose from yet. The most viable current product is the Griffin Connected Toaster, which promises to upgrade your toast experience, coming with customizable presets for different people and bread types, all programmable via the app. You could also press the buttons on the toaster, but what is this — the stone age? It even sends you an alert when your carbohydrates have been satisfactorily charred.
The other IoT toaster, the Toasteroid, is a sadder story. The Kickstarter pitch was for a toaster that could burn messages, pictures, and even weather reports into your bread. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a scam, crumbling our dreams of information-age toast into tiny, buttery pieces that carbonized on the crumb trays of our hearts. This seems like an idea whose time may yet come, though backers may be reluctant after having been burned once.
IoT gets trashy
Remember when it was cool to have a trash can you could open with your foot? Those have rapidly been surpassed by the trashy new trend of motion-sensing trash cans, but even they look old-school compared to Bruno, a rubbish bin/vacuum that sucks in whatever you sweep towards the bottom and opens at a wave of your hand to take in trash from the top. It even comes with an app to help you monitor your trash bag supply and remember trash day.
And then there’s the GeniCan, a device that you can attach to a regular smart can. Just scan the barcode on whatever you’re throwing away and it’ll be added to your shopping list. No barcode? No problem. Just hold whatever you’re throwing away within sensor range of the GeniCan and ritualistically state the name of the item before you sacrifice it to the landfill. It will then be added to your shopping list. It also lets you know when the can is getting full, presumably so you can stuff the garbage down for the fifth time and make the alert go away.
- The Quirky Egg Minder: a smart egg tray that tells you how many eggs you have left. It won’t do anything about your egg situation, just tell you about it.
- The Smalt Shaker: It plays music, changes color, and lets you dispense precise amounts of salt using your smartphone. Owning this will automatically make you an interesting person.
- Porkfolio: A piggy bank that tracks your small cash savings with an app. Presumably made for children, but they just wouldn’t appreciate the pun.
- LuDela: It’s a smart candle that burns with real fire and can be controlled from your smartphone. Yes, you can set up whole networks of them around your house, and yes, they are scented. Your mom would love this.
So this is what we’ve become?
Yes, we’ve finally reached that point in human evolution where if you Google “smart home trash can”, you get more results than you know what to do with, and if you think that’s a bad thing, you are welcome to continue tossing your trash into whatever lifeless hunk of plastic you like. The rest of us will be in the future, discussing Kant with our toasters.