11 ridiculous ‘smart’ gadgets that
I write for a website called Tech Insider, so every day I’m inundated with emails and pitches for gadgets claiming to make life easier.
In recent years, some of these devices have evolved from an easy source of skepticism to things that are actually worth buying. The Amazon Echo is a genuinely useful assistant, and personally I’m all in on the energy-saving ways of smart lighting. Roombas, Nests, and WeMo switches have their virtues, too.
Other products — let’s just say it’s harder to see the mass appeal. Lately there’s been a wave of self-proclaimed smart devices that take the “things” part of “Internet of Things” very seriously. While I can’t totally dismiss them, sometimes they go past the point of utility and into the land of cynicism. (Or at least weirdness.)
To illustrate just how far the tech world is willing to go to make anything and everything connected, let’s look at a few of these things, all of which actually for real exist.
Quirky Egg Minder
The Quirky Egg Minder
solves a question as old as time itself: “Why can’t I connect my egg tray
to the internet?”
Made in partnership with GE, this thing syncs with your smartphone and sends you push notifications when you’re on the verge of being eggless. LED lights on the tray itself tell you which of its 14 eggs nearing their expiration date.
It’s only $13 on Amazon at the moment, which isn’t so bad compared to some of the other gadgets here, though its user reviews have been pretty brutal thus far.
The Hidrate Spark
is one of a few “smart water bottles” that’ve popped up in recent years, most of which do the same thing: pair with a companion app over Bluetooth, then walk you through staying properly hydrated.
To be fair, the 24-ounce Spark does look nice, and the fact that it glows when you hit your thirst-quenching goals is cute. But paying $55 to be reminded to drink water might be a bit much, especially when you can already log this stuff with one of several free fitness apps
Brita Infinity WiFi Connected Pitcher
Tech companies are all in on this water thing, apparently. The $45 Brita Infinity
bills itself as “the future of hydration” — it works like any other Brita you’ve seen, only it can sense when its current purification filter has outlived its usefulness.
As a neglectful Brita owner myself, I could actually see this being useful in the “I’m too lazy to be responsible anyways” way. It’s certainly good business for Amazon, too. Still, it’s hard not to find the idea of automated commerce being particularly, let’s say, thirsty.
As we’ve told you before
, Kuvée wants to a “Keurig for wine.” Its WiFi-connected, touchscreen-enabled wine bottle sleeve — which raised $6 million
in funding earlier this year — works with a select number of wine “cartridges.” Slot one in, and you can scroll through various tidbits about what you’re drinking.
When you’re done, you can buy a replacement on the bottle itself, because of course you can. If you’re not turned off by paying $180 for a wine dispenser you have to periodically recharge, Kuvée does claim those cartridges will stay fresh for up to 30 days.
Hatch Baby Smart Changing Pad
Yep, there’s smart baby stuff too. Putting an infant on the Hatch Baby Smart Changing Pad
lets you keep tabs on their weight, diaper changes, food intake, and so on, all of which goes back to a companion app. If needed, you can share that data with a pediatrician.
This isn’t unhelpful, especially if your kid is dealing with allergies or other early health concerns. As CNET
notes, though, the app does most of the heavy lifting here; the $250 pad isn’t much more than a comfortable scale on its own.
Again, the Onvi Prophix
isn’t the only “smart toothbrush” in existence, but it might be the quirkiest
. It connects to a smartphone app, naturally, but it uses that app to, among other things, show you photos and live video of the inside of your mouth. It can do that because there’s a 10-megapixel camera built into the brush itself.
If you have serious dental concerns, the $400 necessary to jump on the bandwagon here might be worth it. For others, a bathroom mirror might still do the trick.
In related “dental hygiene in the 21st century” news, there’s Flosstime
, a “smart floss dispenser” that mounts to a bathroom mirror and churns out 18 inches of tooth rope when tapped.
The idea is to get you in the habit of flossing regularly, which seems feasible given that you’ll have a white floss shooting machine staring you in the face whenever you go the bathroom.
If nothing else, its creators realize the kid-friendly potential here, as the company’s selling a handful of cutesy covers to snap on over the device. If you’re a floss-conscious adult with no discipline, though, you can grab the device for $25 on its Indiegogo page
is a $700 connected “juicing system” that won’t make juice if your WiFi is down. If that slice of modernity doesn’t scare you away, know that this isn’t the most
expensive a juicer’s ever been, and that the whole thing does appear to be
a simple, effective way of making healthy drinks. Still, here’s hoping the price comes down sooner or later.
is a Bluetooth-enabled “smart fork” that vibrates when it senses you’re eating too fast. As goofy as it sounds, it is trying to coach you out of a genuine problem
. Whether or not you need to pay $70 and subject yourself to a Pavlovian experiment to solve that problem, however, is less clear.
I’ve left umbrellas at bars and restaurants across the country, so I’m not totally opposed to a connected model like the Oombrella
, which can send its last known location to your phone.
That it can send weather alerts to your phone might not be the worst thing, either, although weather apps (and human eyes) exist for a reason. Putting your $80 toward umbrella stats, though, might be a bridge too far.
If the Bruno
ever makes it past its current production troubles
, I could see it becoming a thing. Yes, it’s a $140 trash can that needs to be recharged every month. It also needs proprietary bags to work, which is fairly dystopian.
At the bottom of that can, though, is a small vacuum cutout that will suck up whatever crumbs, hairs, or general crud that’s manifested on your floor. That means no more dustpans. It’s tackling a total first-world problem, but at this point, that should be a given.