The falling price of mobile device parts, combined with the tidal wave of money flowing into the tech sector, has led to an unprecedented rise in the number of internet-connected devices you can buy for your home. There are now smart toothbrushes, smart cutting boards, smart aquariums, and smart fart detectors. (Yes, really.) Basically, if you can stuff a chip and a low-power Bluetooth module into a home appliance, someone in Silicon Valley is making it.
Some of these connected devices are clever, and maybe even useful. But many of them are ill-conceived, overpriced, and ultimately useless. "Do I really want to check a bar-graph infested dashboard of my weekly eating activity?" wrote the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims in a column about the overload. "And what about the fact that every smart object I add to my life means one more device to keep charged?" These objects are also catnip for hackers — one study estimated that 70 percent of Internet of Things devices are vulnerable to being hacked.
The clever Twitter account @InternetofShit is keeping track of the worst "Internet of Things" offenders. Here are 11 of the weirdest internet-connected gadgets we've seen.
An internet-connected wine bottle
Chinese wine maker Ferngrove Wine Group has unveiled a "smart wine bottle" that uses wireless technology to prevent counterfeiting. According to iDigitalTimes, "each bottle will come equipped with a printed electronic tag, of sorts, that can wirelessly communicate when a bottle has been opened and keep track of bottles." (Presumably, anti-counterfeiting technology is necessary when you're dealing in ultra-high-end wines — not Two-Buck Chuck.)
A smart grill
You probably didn't know that grilling hamburgers could be a technological activity. But the SMART GRILL (now raising money on Kickstarter) wants to make it one. The grill connects to your smartphone, and lets you control temperature and grilling time, in addition to turning the grill off and on remotely. Not even the biggest grill geek in your life needs this.
A smart water fountain for cats
According to its IndieGogo campaign, which raised more than $56,000 but fell short of its $100,000 goal, the Pura cat water fountain is "a beautifully crafted and ergonomically designed smart water fountain for cats that is easy to clean, encourages better water-drinking habits and helps you keep tabs on your kitten’s water-intake right on your smart phone."
Belty, an internet-connected belt
Humans held their pants up just fine with leather belts for thousands of years. But now, there's a better way. According to its maker, the Belty smart belt automatically loosens when you've had too much to eat, using "an actuator that ensures your preferred level of comfort throughout the day." In case algorithmic accommodation of your food baby isn't enough, the Belty also comes with "inactivity monitoring, waistline trend analysis, a built-in pedometer, bluetooth capabilities, and sister phone app." It's not available for sale yet, though you can visit its spiffy website.
Bruno, the smart trash can
Only cavemen throw their trash away by hand, in cans. Real futurists opt for Bruno, the "smart trash can," which raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter, and ships this November. "Bruno's integrated vacuum feature delivers floor sweepings directly into the trash can," according to its maker. "Simply sweep and Bruno takes care of the rest." Ugh.
Pantelligent, the smart frying pan
For people who like a paint-by-numbers approach to cooking, there's Pantelligent, a smart frying pan that has a temperature sensor that communicates with a dedicated smartphone app. "No more overcooked, undercooked, or burned food," Pantelligent promises. If you hate cooking this much, why not just order take-out?
These $199 socks (!) are "infused with proprietary 100% textile sensors," according to their maker, Sensoria, and "paired with a Bluetooth Smart cool and detachable anklet." The result is a sock that "leverages a mobile app to coach the runner in real-time" and "delivers superior accuracy in step counting, speed, calories, altitude and distance tracking." These socks will be approximately 199 times more annoying to lose in the wash than the ones you currently own.
A smart "iKettle"
I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my Bluetooth-enabled spout.
This bad boy retails for £99.99, and "will tell you when your hot water is ready to pour, remind you to refill and tell you when the kettle is empty."
HidrateMe, a smart water bottle
If you've ever wanted a $46.95 water bottle that "tracks your water intake and syncs to your phone, with a customized "hydration equation" that tells you how much water to drink, you're in luck. HidrateMe does just that. If, like most humans, you got along fine with analog water, you can stick to Poland Spring.
The world's first "smart jar"
According to its (fully-funded) crowdfunding campaign, the Neo "uses real-time measurement to track key nutritional indicators and help meet your health goals." It's a jar with an app.
A Bluetooth-enabled cocktail shaker
The Kickstarter campaign for cocktail "smart shaker" B4RM4Nfell about $60,000 short of its $100,000 goal, which means you won't be seeing it in any stores soon. But fear not: if you've dreamed of making drinks with minimal effort and maximum gadgetry, its makers are hard at work on another project, called MixStik, that appears to be an expensive, high-tech way to make Long Island Iced Teas with the proper proportions. Or you could spring for a $13 cocktail book. Your call.