The Good, the Bad & the Ridiculous: The Future of Life at Home

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Carley Knobloch)

I, for one, love the idea of the Internet of Things and smart home technology. I’m looking forward to more and more cutting edge, connected tools that create efficiency with automated tasks, ones that actually save money and time (rather than costing a bundle and eating up the extra time with a giant learning curve or constant troubleshooting). We’re at the cusp, a perfect time to take a peek at the cool things that are out there, as well as what we consumers should be aware of while all the kinks are getting ironed out.

(Image credit: Carley Knobloch)

The Good

Most of the smart home technology that’s currently available and that is worth cutting your IoT teeth on currently revolves around ambient home features like heating, cooling, and lighting.

Smart thermostats like Nest and Ecobee adjust your home’s temperature for your comfort and to save on energy consumption and energy costs.

Smart lighting, such as Lifx or BeOn, operates similarly. Various brands can learn your preferred lighting patterns and mimic them, not only for convenience but also for safety, such as by turning lights on and off if you’re out of town, for instance.

Among the most popular and widely used smart home products in use today, virtual personal assistants like Alexa and Google Home offer voice-activated access to music, news, your personal calendar information, and more. They connect to other smart items in your home so those can be controlled with voice command as well. Think plopping down on the couch and saying, “Okay Google, watch Chef’s Table from Netflix on my living room TV” and your show turns on and the lights turn off without you having to lift a finger.

Check out CNET’s list of Best Smart Home Devices of 2017 for more.

The Bad

As reported in Wired, the shutdown of Revolv, Nest’s smart home hub, shortly after it became available shows just how vulnerable Internet of Things products are to their manufacturers’ not-always-customer-facing business models.

Another vulnerability arises when seeing how new technology fails when, well, when technology fails. When this happens in your connected home, it can affect your daily life in a way that isn’t fixed as easily as in the former days of simply mechanical malfunctions. For instance, Tech Dirt describes how when a glitch drained second-gen Nest batteries, users were awakened to chilly indoor temps — and were unable to override the settings. Not smart. Currently, the reliability of manual products often overrides the convenience of automated devices that may or may not work.

Meanwhile, security issues remain a valid and frightening concern. We’ve all been horrified by the hacked nanny cams used to gain eyes into the intimate rooms of our homes. Leaks in connected homes can put identity information and location data in hackers’ hands. Many saavy technophiles are waiting until another generation of smart home products, ones with less permeable boundaries, comes out before opting into the system.

(Image credit: Withings)

The Ridiculous

Okay, just for kicks and giggles, let’s take a look at some truly over-the-top smart home items we just do not need in our lives—at least not yet.

  • June, the almost one-thousand dollar smart toaster oven that purportedly cooks everything perfectly. It identifies what you’re making with a built-in camera and suggests how to make it.
  • The Aera home fragrance device that allows you to turn on scents while you’re on your way home from work, for instance.
  • The Hair Coach smart hair brush, which among other things, measures the acceleration of the brush as you pass it through your locks.

Weigh in: Do you have any smart home devices? What connected tech has found a permanent place in your home?