Being able to set your house alarm remotely is a fantastic use of technology. Sat nav has saved many of us from becoming hopelessly lost and wasting hours, not to mention litres of petrol. The Internet of Things is really a glorious development, putting cutting edge technology to use to make everyday tasks easier. People are starting to call it the Internet of Caring because new technology is connecting us in ways that empower us to look after each other. It’s revolutionizing elder care by allowing people to check in with their elderly parents remotely and monitor how well they are eating. Smart homes even allow us to see what our pets are doing while we’re at work.
But do you sometimes wonder where it will end? As the IoT becomes more integrated into our daily lives, will we go from asking Alexa for directions or recipes to asking her how we should deal with family dramas? Are some of these innovations not quite as helpful as others?
At the 2018 CES, visitors got a dazzling preview of so many amazing innovations. Every type of connected technology is leaping forward. Laptops, smart phones, gaming gear, home entertainment and security systems are all getting more sophisticated and more fun. But amid all of that wonderfulness were a couple of things that gave us pause.
Smart homes are amazing. When we have the technology enabled, we can use it to make our homes safer, more energy efficient and more fun. But perhaps the product Kohler brought to CES is a step too far. They displayed their Numi multi-functional toilet, which features voice-activated flushing and bidet as well as your chosen playlist. Because of course it has speakers. As clever as this sounds, anyone with children would want to investigate the details. What child would not delight in surprising their parents with a splash from the bidet? What teen could resist changing your playlist? Isn’t it hard enough to get children ready for school without giving them the technology to control a bidet from another part of the house? A voice-operated, multi-functional toilet just has too much potential for pranks. No thank you.
Smart homes are safer and more fun. Everyone loves technology that takes on household tasks, right? The humble dishwasher has saved countless marriages. No matter how annoyingly a spouse arranges the dishes in the machine or how negligent one is about unloading it, it is streets ahead of actually scrubbing those dishes yourself.
Laundry is a relentless hassle. Who likes folding clothes? Absolutely no one. And not one but two clothes folding robots featured at CES. But users must put each piece of laundry into the Foldimate, and which sounds like it has the potential to be as annoying as the automated self-serve grocery checkout. (Unidentified item in the folding area!) But neither Foldimate or its competitor Laundroid can fold fitted sheets, which might be evidence that it is completely impossible to fold them. An assistant who only helps on the easy jobs isn’t that much help. No thanks. Maybe we’ll just leave the clothes in a heap in the hot press. Let us know when the self-driving iron goes on sale. But technology that brews our coffee so it is there nice and hot as soon as we stumble into the kitchen is something we’ll be eternally grateful to have.
Please IoT, keep giving us better ways to keep our homes more secure and our cars safer on the roads. We love the innovative gaming gear and home entertainment. And the ability to check in on aging parents, mischievous pets and besieged childminders is priceless. But leave our toilets and laundry alone please. Unless you have an app that yells ‘flush the toilet’ or ‘put the seat down’ as needed, just stay out of our bathrooms, okay? Unless there’s a sound system and lighting to enhance our magnificent singing in the shower. We’d sign up for that, thanks.
By Irene Hislop
By Rakky Curvelo