6 ‘Smart’ Devices That Are Just Plain Dumb

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The Internet of Things is revolutionizing our world in awesome ways, but it's also generating some stupidly expensive solutions for life's little problems.

We’ve told you the many ways to save on smartphones. Purchased and used correctly smartphones, smart TVs and smart thermostats can be smart buys.

But let’s face it — some smart technology is sort of dumb, or at least a dumb use of money.

Consider the Quirky Egg Minder, a 14-egg holder to put in your refrigerator that syncs with your smartphone so that you can tell how many eggs you have at home and if they are going bad. According to Amazon, “In-tray LED lights indicate the oldest egg, while push notifications alert you when you’re running low.”

Really? When I wonder how many eggs we have, I open the refrigerator door and look at the egg carton. If I’m concerned about their age, I look at the expiration date stamped on the carton.

The Egg Minder a great example of dumb smart technology, and I am not alone in thinking so. Check out this tongue-in-cheek review — one of many in the Amazon review section that saw the absurdity of the product (which, incidentally, doesn’t work all that well so far, according to more serious reviews):

Ever been out on a brisk walk trying to work out the stress from the day and then suddenly been hit with a wave of anxiety wondering just how many eggs are in the fridge and what condition they might possibly be in? Well, with the Egg Minder those panic attacks are forever behind us. This product works anywhere too, so 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 Eggminder will set all of our hearts and minds at ease. Our dreams of a more peaceful world are at hand.

The Internet of Things is going to revolutionize many things. But in the meantime, there are egg minders and other “smart” devices — some still in development — that we think are headed for the trash heap of silly notions:

1. HAPIfork ‘coaches you into better eating habits’

Forget conscious eating. Hapifork, an electronic fork, monitors and tracks your eating habits. The forks’ indicator lights and gentle vibrations alert you when you’re eating too fast. The readout tells you how long it takes to eat your meal, the amount of “fork servings” taken per minute and intervals between “fork servings.” Use it and you’ll lose weight and improve digestion — except if you’re one of the “horribly disappointed” Amazon buyers including those who invested in the Kickstarter campaign to fund it. Cost: $79.

2. Floss Time reminds you, dispenses floss, and ‘smiles’

Done eating? Don’t forget to floss. Can’t remember? You need to spend $22 (or $39 for the family pack) for the Kickstarter-funded Floss Time. It lights up to remind you to floss, dispenses 18 inches of floss and rewards you with a lit “smile” when you take the floss. Is an electronic smile enough of a reward to make you floss? Not me.

3. Vessyl ‘automatically tracks your hydration needs’

Evidently, thirst is not a precise-enough indicator of your water needs. But you can get an accurate picture of your hydration needs if you spend $149 on this smart water bottle. “Vessyl” factors in “your height, weight, age and biological sex,” and other changing factors such as your activity level — it syncs to your Fitbit or other tracker — and hours of sleep,” and then tells you when to drink more. Promoters say the system allows you to reach your optimal hydration, which in turn “can lead to mental balance, physical endurance, more energy, and much more.”

Think this sounds great despite our skepticism? Check out the Amazon reviews before you fork over the cash.

4. Socks that measure ‘how fast, how far and how well’ you run

Think your Fitbit, Jawbone or other fitness tracker needs some competition? Spend an extra $400 for Sensoria. Sensors woven into the bottom of each sock relay information to a device that magnetically attaches at the ankle, and communicates with an app to tell you how far, how fast, and how well your run or walk. For some of us, our knees suffice as pretty accurate gauges of all that.

5. ‘The high-tech umbrella you cannot lose’

Sick of forgetting your umbrella? For $125, you can buy an umbrella with “Loss Alert’ technology that syncs to your smartphone. The Davek Alert tracks the distance between your phone and umbrella and signals you when they’re more than 30 feet apart. Big money to solve a fairly simple problem. And, what are you going to do if your smartphone tells you the umbrella is speeding off in a taxi you just exited? Probably what we all do: Step into a convenience store and buy a cheap replacement.

Do you have examples of wacky smart technology? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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