Remember, Smart Tech Isn’t Always so Smart

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By Tim Moynihan / Published by Dwell
Four of the less-intelligent trends in home automation.

Gratuitous Use of WiFi: Connected coffee machines, toasters, and tea kettles seem futuristic, but they do the same things cheaper predecessors have done for decades. A programmable coffee maker costs $20, most toasters "alert" users by ejecting the heated bread, and kettles whistle when the water’s ready. Make sure your bandwidth-hogging gadget is truly serving a need. 

Internet of Threats: Security is, unfortunately, often the last thing on an IoT manufacturer’s mind. In September 2016, the massive Mirai botnet infected connected cameras, DVRs, and routers with malware that disrupted web access across large areas of the U.S. WiFi-enabled devices are prime targets for attacks, in part because you can’t install antivirus software on many of them. 

Outsourcing Brain Power: Smart features have been grafted onto every object you can imagine. Smart forks tell us to stop eating. Smart water bottles tell us when to drink. Smart trash cans tell us when they’re full. This may seem innocuous, but when we stop relying on basic instincts to tell us when we’re hungry or thirsty, or that the garbage is overflowing, what will happen to common sense? 

Put a Camera on It: Tech is at its best when it enhances daily life, not when it photobombs it. There are camera-equipped mirrors that take selfies, ready to post before breakfast, and camera-equipped sunglasses that let you record everything around you, regardless of whether bystanders are OK with it. Some smart tech is creepy and intrusive, even before hackers get their hands on it.

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