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10 ‘smart’ gadgets that aren’t nearly as clever as they claim to be
First there were smartphones and smart TVs, then there were smart fridges and smart fridge magnets, and now there’s smart, well, just about everything else.
While the ‘smart’ buzzword shows no signs of going away, not every gadget in our connected world is a clever as it claims to be. Sure, your kitchen bin might have its own iPhone app, but why does it have one and what problem does it solve? For every genuinely useful invention, there are probably three wearable wristbands all doing different variations of the same pointless thing. Here are just ten of the worst offenders;
1. Navigate Jacket
GPS is a phenomenally useful technology, but for some, fumbling around for a phone and firing up Google Maps is simply too much effort. The solution? The Navigate Jacket, which leads you to your destination with vibrating sleeves to indicate left and right turns. The baby blue cowboy hat and eyeshadow are optional, but you’d surely be a fool not to complete the look.
One ring to rule them all? That’s the idea behind the imaginatively titled ‘Ring’, which wants to send text messages and control your home appliances with the swish of a finger. Ignoring the awkwardness of having to wear this ugly chunk of silver all day, you’ll also have to perform elaborate gestures just to turn on the TV – that is, if the Ring is even compatible with it. You might feel like a magician, but you’ll also look very silly and pay $130 for the privilege.
We’ve seen some clever gadgets for pets, but sadly this isn’t one of them. Petcube is sold as a smart box to keep you in contact with your animal companion while you’re away from home, but it feels more like a way to alleviate the guilt of leaving them behind. Sure, you can keep an eye on your cat or dog for as long as it stays within the camera’s range, but shouting commands through a screen at an unresponsive pet is not our idea of progress.
4. Selfie sticks
The selfie stick may have enjoyed baffling levels of success, but if this is deemed a smart solution then we might as well give up now. Unfortunately the dreaded smartphone on a pole is unlikely to be going anywhere soon – it was everywhere at this year’s CES and they seem to be multiplying by the day. That won’t stop us calling them stupid, though.
This year’s CES was flooded with so-called smart products, but none of them grabbed the attention like Belty. The idea behind this smart belt is that it adjusts to your waistline, slackening as you pile on the pounds and tightening up when your pants begin to sag. Slightly more usefully, Belty is also equipped with health-tracking sensors for keeping count of your steps and your waist size, but with its designers describing it as a ‘high-end’ product we struggle to see it justifying its price tag.
The problem with so many smart gadgets is that they’re just not useful enough for a large enough number of people. Take Vert, for instance, a wearable jump rate monitor which might come in handy if you’re, say, a professional basketball player, but is unlikely to be bought by anyone else. If you’re not a professional basketball player and you really, really want to know how high you can jump, one of these wearable waistbands will set you back $124.99.
So, this is a thing now – “The first smart WiFi pool thermometer and UV sensor connected to your phone/tablet.” Yes, Lilypad has got there first; it was a bit like the space race, only literally nobody else has ever thought about creating such a thing. Essentially, this plastic circle goes in your pool (y’know, that pool that you have) and reads the UV light to tell you whether or not to apply sun cream. The risks of skin cancer shouldn’t be taken lightly, but before you shell out $99 on one of these be aware that weather apps do exist.
8. Hapi Fork
Isn’t it nice when somebody tells you that you’re eating too fast? With HAPIfork, you don’t even need a dinner date, as the moment you pick up the pace your utensil will begin to vibrate and remind you to slow down. The idea is that eating more slowly will help with weight gain and digestion, but is a fork that you have to charge with a USB cable the answer? Probably not.
Vessyl is the smart cup that knows exactly what you’re drinking – just pour your beverage in and it’ll tell you what it is with magical precision. You know who else could have told you that? You! While the idea here is to track your liquid intake and make sure you stay hydrated, Vessyl is a whole lot of smoke and mirrors just to tell you to drink more water and less coffee.
10. Intel smart mug
Finally, from Intel comes the the smart coffee mug. It might look like an ordinary mug on first glance, but notice the LEDs that can be programmed to display numbers, letters and smiley faces. That’s it, we give up.