By now everyone has the own opinion on why Google acquired the thermostat maker Nest, but like most people our first reaction was fear. After all, Google already knows too much about our digital life, and now they will even know about our movement inside our physical life as well.
But if the move is to bring more intelligence to home appliances and devices, then it might be worth exploring. For instance a glass top table with Google Earth (shown in the NY Times video) might spark your kids imagination and allow the family to explore different parts of the Earth.
MIT Media Lab is pioneering new technologies for Internet of Things that on the surface appear to be ordinary house-hold items. The Umbrella featured in this video blinks when the local weather will be rainy. The box that opens up to a Skype session with GrandMa is another exmple shown in this video.
But despite the first buzz of excitement about Internet of Things we are not completely sold, specially if each of these devices will need constant configuration and manual intervention.
A big concern for us is the fact that appliance manufacturers are still unable to make house-hold items that don’t fail on a regular basis. Adding more complexity to these devices might sounds wonderful inside the MIT Media Lab, but we are still dealing with 2 year old Viking Appliances that fail every year.
Sure, it might be nice for the Milk container to broadcast when it’s 1/3 empty, but we don’t need that technology if the fridge itself is failing every year. Yes, no consumer cares if the Milk Carton is sending a signal to your iPhone if the fridge itself has a compressor that fails every year.
And now we want to install an iOS device into the Milk Carton to communicate with the firmware on the Fridge board? Adding more complexity to home appliances might sound like a great idea inside the MIT Media Lab. But these solutions seem to be looking for a problem to solve that might not be that high up on home owners agenda.
After all, what would be so wrong about walking out the door with a dumb umbrella on a day that doesn’t rain? You simply can leave it in your car or the office. Yes, your umbrella will not be party to a water cooler conversation, but we suspect your valet will be much happier with you if you avoided purchasing the Internet enabled Umbrella.
What do you think? Do you really need an Umbrella that can blink on a rainy day?