10 ‘smart’ gadgets that are just plain dumb
Almost anything you buy these days can be loaded with sensors, LEDs, and Wi-Fi, and then labelled “smart.” Light bulbs? Check. Door locks? Yep. Sprinklers? Of course.
But as manufacturers rush to “smartify” everything, we wonder if all these new inventions are really necessary. We get bombarded with pitches for dubious smart gadgets all day long, but some of them truly make us question the trajectory of technology. These 10 smart home products are just plain dumb.
The Smalt Salt Dispenser
Ever reach for the salt at the dinner table and think to yourself, “Hmmm, how will I know the right amount of salt to put on my steak? What if I pour too much? Too little? If only I had something to guide me through this process.”
Yeah, us neither.
But if you do need help with your salt intake, or have ever wished you had an app on your phone to automatically dispense salt, you might want to check out the Smalt salt dispenser, which is available for $99 via pre-order through Indiegogo. The Amazon Alexa-connected shaker can be set to pour, shake, or pinch. It can also help people with high blood pressure monitor their salt intake via an app for Android or iOS.
Not yet convinced this product is for you? Maybe this will seal the deal: it’s not just a salt shaker – it’s also a Bluetooth speaker and features mood lighting, eliminating the need to light those annoyingly messy and antiquated candles at the dinner table.
Porkfolio the piggybank
This smart piggy bank makes our list based on the name alone. Genius! The Porkfolio is, fittingly, a smart piggybank that allows you to keep track of the money you put into it. With the app, you can help your kiddos set financial goals and get notifications alerting them when the piggybank is on the move (hint: it’s probably under someone’s bed). It comes in three colors and retails on Amazon for $20.
The Quirky Egg Minder
You’re at the store and you can’t remember how many eggs are in your fridge. Or, you’re staring at your eggs in the fridge, wondering if they’re still OK to eat – you don’t want to get salmonella, after all. Don’t panic! The Quirky Egg Minder is an egg tray that connects to your phone to tell you how many eggs you have in the tray, and how long the eggs have been sitting on it.
While Quirky filed for bankruptcy in 2015, the Egg Minder lives on and is currently available on Amazon for $12 – a bargain compared to other products on this list.
The ratings on Amazon are dismal at 2.5 out of 5 stars, but the Egg Minder also has gained a bit of cult status, where it’s celebrated for being, well, quirky. Reviewer W. Giant notes in his five-star Amazon review that: “we can check on our eggs from the John, or the back of a police car, or even from in the emergency room, because those warning signs to turn off all cell phones are just stupid. The Egg minder will set all of our hearts and minds at ease. Our dreams of a more peaceful world are at hand. Thank you Egg minder. Thank you.”
Belty the Smart Belt
So your belt only holds up your pants? Sucker! You could be using Belty, a belt that also charges your cell phone via a USB port on the bottom of the belt buckle. It works with Android and iPhone and is made of leather. Grooves apparently hold your belt in place so no belt holes are needed.
We’ll admit, it is an attractive belt that could come in handy when our cell battery is at 12 percent at the airport. But at $149 a pop we could also just throw on a regular $25 belt, put a phone charger in our pocket or bag, and call it a day.
The Smart Water Bottle
Do we really need a water bottle to remind us to drink from it? Doesn’t our body provide us that information directly though let’s say, thirst? Or a dry mouth? Or lack of urine?
Well, the manufacturers of smart water bottles apparently think our bodies aren’t doing a good enough job of alerting us of our hydration needs. Several have hit the market over the past few years, including Trago, BluFit, and Hidrate Spark.
These bottles connect to an app and tell us how much water we’re drinking and how much we should be drinking, depending on age, outside temperature, and other factors. Some even glow to indicate when we need to drink more water.
While the smart water bottle industry is expected to increase by 15 percent over the next 7 years, we aren’t convinced these products fall under “necessary” in the smart category. Is it really that hard to gauge your body’s hydration level or count how many glasses of water you drank without the help of technology? We think not.
We’re pretty sure this product was featured on an episode of The Jetsons. The Smartduvet is a self-making bed that also has built-in dual climate-control technology, making it weird and awesome at the same time. Weird because, well, what if the duvet malfunctions and starts self-making while you’re still in your bed? Almost like the bed is putting a move on you. Or worse, trying to suffocate you.
The awesome aspect of the Smartduvet is of course is the climate-control technology, because it’s a rule in life that the person you share a bed with automatically has the exact opposite preferences for hot and cool sleep settings as you do.
But again, do you really need a self-making duvet cover? Is it really that difficult to simply pull your duvet over your bed? Come. On.
The Smartduvet is on pre-order for October and is on sale for $199 for a single.
The Smart Garbage Can
Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends
Why have a dumb old garbage can when you can have a smart one? Products like the GeniCan and Bruno are taking the act of throwing away garbage to a whole new level.
The GeniCan is a device that you hang on the side of your garbage can. As you throw away empty containers of, say, juice, you can scan the barcode on the item, which then automatically adds juice to your shopping list on a corresponding app. The $149 device also notifies you when the garbage is full and can send an “empty garbage” reminder to you, your spouse, child, neighbor, worst enemy, or whoever you want. Nifty.
You can have a garbage can and a vacuum with Bruno, which promises to do both. Don’t be fooled though — this isn’t a roving garbage can. Instead, this vacuum/garbage sucks up the debris you sweep under it. You can also connect to an app to get reminders when it’s low on bags or full of trash. Pre-order now for $199. Or don’t. Either way, you’ll survive.
Flatev tortilla maker
There are machines that distribute coffee, juice, and even wine with the touch of a button. Apparently now there’s a machine to do the same with tortillas.
Using various-flavored dough pods, Flatev is a device that can make you a tortilla in just a couple of minutes. Put the pod in the machine, push a button, and boom — insta-tortilla! This could be a major party trick to go along with your margaritas.
No word on when it will be available, but you can reserve yours on Kickstarter if you’re so inclined. We’re going to stick with those same old packages of tortillas that cost us $3 at the grocery store.
Bluetooth Smart Fork
The Hapifork smart fork isn’t going to steer you away from that cake in the break room. But it will tell you to chew the cake more slowly, or maybe avoid a second slice. The Bluetooth-enabled utensil tracks how often you eat, how long it takes you to eat, and how much time has passed in between eating.
Gorging on that cake like Cookie Monster? The Hapifork will vibrate and blink. The idea is that you can track your eating and then use the data to change habits. There are some flaws to the product, though. For example, the fork doesn’t know if you’ve just gorged on a plate of cookies. Or if you used a fork from the drawer rather than your smart fork.
The device has been around for a few years and sells for $50 to $60 on Amazon depending on the color and retailer.
Yes, you read that right. A smart umbrella — not the dumb kind that you leave in the back seat of an Uber.
Umbrella Here has a light on top. As you would with a taxi, turn on the light to indicate that you’re willing to take a “passenger” under your umbrella. Others caught in a downpour see the light and know that you’re willing to share your umbrella. You’ll be an instant friend or instant weirdo, depending on who joins you.
Umbrella Here comes with — you guessed it — an app that, among other things, lets you keep in touch with those you’ve shared your umbrella with. You can log in, add the date and time of the share, and then add that person as a friend. The two of you can continue your conversation about the day you frolicked in the rain together.