Smart Appliances

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

With the collective brain of consumer electronics seemingly obsessed with tablet computing, one can only wonder when a broader view is adopted and more consumer appliances receive networking capabilities. How long until a refrigerator scans a gallon of milk or a cupboard’s face reveals not a wooden design but an LCD screen with information on contents and expiration data?

Smart tech is gradually encompassing the rooms of our home, but the focus now is on the living room. Bill Gates once discussed his view of the growth of home tech and likened the future home to a massive network of devices connected and functioning to provide users with comprehensive forms of service. Oddly the majority of these “services” focused on entertainment. Is the reflective of Bill Gates concern for the XBOX? It seems likely that the growth of the “connected home” will stem largely from the evolution of gadgets that play critical but minor roles in our daily routines.

Instead of adding new tech in the form of tablets let’s consider the effect of smarter consumer products we already use. The gadgets of current use are largely dumb or unable to perform tasks beyond basic preparation. The coffee machine simply heats and moves water over coffee grounds. In essence this machine performs a single chore and possesses counter space in order to do this one chore. This seems extremely wasteful, both in terms of space usage and the potential capabilities of the product. Why not inform a consumer of the health of the machine, is the water being fully heated? Is the burner slowly losing power? Or, why can’t the machine provide information on the material it is producing? Is the coffee fresh?

The most powerful adjustment to consumer tech will come in the form of human health assistance. As gadgets expand to calculate nutritional data we can gain greater insight into exactly what we are putting into our bodies. Imagine the battle against obesity if our stoves displayed the weight of what we were producing and, via the information scanned when the item first entered the kitchen, the total caloric information was presented to a user. An incredibly effective way to informing a consumer is through the use of cold objective facts. The inefficiencies of certain foods- empty calories or lure of vapid sweets and salts can assist a user make better choices. A better move in the battle against obesity is not enforced dieting; instead, we need to grasp technologies that better inform users to make better decisions. Information after all is power.

I look forward to the expansion of technology beyond the living room and entertainment dimension. Beyond the lure of 3D TV and tablet computing, the home presents a series of needs for technology designers who can create a system of smart products that truly alter our daily existence. A focus on better informed consumers via smart gadgets has numerous benefits. As an added compliment smarter gadgets can assist in America’s battles with a lagging economy and poor health. New gadgets can invigorate industries and enliven consumer product creators whose new lines of products can usher in a new level of user awareness.

  1. January 17, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    Good article, thank you. Home and Kitchen Review


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