Lots of hype about the Internet of Things these days, but a lot more about the first part than the second. But if we are to have an Internet of Things, the Things need to still do, well, their thing. Don’t get me wrong, we’re a fan of connected stuff, but as only as long as the stuff part still works excellently.
An Internet Toaster should not only remember how I like my bagel browned (a nice tan, enough to melt butter but not burned) but also be able to toast it that way. I’ve never seen an iToaster, but I suspect some geek somewhere is dreaming one up. I have seen internet-enabled thermostats, we’re even working on one, but for such to go in my house it needs to be able to turn the heater on when it gets cold and off when it gets hot. I googled Wi-Fi scales a few days back, and was both surprised to see so many out there but also how many reviewers had a very basic complaint—their scale didn’t weigh right. OK, so maybe some clever entrepreneur will figure out the equivalent of the old calibration dial so as to subtract two lbs, but still if a scale is to be useful, and show one’s weight to a tenth of a pound or whatever, it better also be accurate.
Besides toasting bread or weighing accurately, an Internet Thing also needs to last. My toaster is at least 8 years old, and will last until we tire of red (long story). My microwave is 14 years old, my 20-year-old clock radio just died, finally. And while I design techy stuff for a living, I do worry: although I have only had 1 thermostat, 1 electric razor, and 1 sprinkler controller over the past 10 years, I’ve had 8 printers, 6 computers, 5 (only—I’m the exception on that for sure) cell phones, 4 iPods, and a zillion headsets over that same period of time. So if the Internet of Things is going to get beyond the geeks and early adopters, those Things need to work, they need to work well, they need to last, and they need to be able to be manufactured at a low cost.
Just saying. And no, I do not want an iToaster. Unless it comes in red.