IoT

The Dumbest Things We Tried Connecting To The Internet This Year

From laundry pegs to belts to wine bottles, maybe it's time we stop making everything smart

IoT
Illustration: R. A. Di Ieso
Dec 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM ET

“Why does this exist?” might’ve been a question you’ve asked the universe several times this year. In a world where too many companies mistakenly think slapping useless technology on some packaging will help distinguish their product, there are some things that just shouldn’t be — like a smart egg tray.

In 2016, we’ve seen a whole lot of new gadgets join the Internet of Things (unfortunately, we’ve also seen them harnessed by hackers to bring down huge swaths of the Internet). From appliances to clothing, companies really want to sell you the tech that’ll make your life “smarter,” but sometimes it just makes it slower and dumber. Let’s look back on some of the most ridiculous and useless Internet-connected gadgets that were produced in the past 12 months.

Some smart beds will promise you better sleep and posture, but this one in particular will turn you into a private investigator looking to catch a cheating spouse in the act. Regardless of knowing if it’s comfortable, the Smarttress alerts you “whenever someone is using your bed in a questionable way.”

The mattress comes with sensors inside the bed that can detect pressure and send messages to the app, which spares no details. The app not only detects movement on the bed, but also records the intensity and speed at which people are getting it on.

With a price tag of about $1,350, you’re better of buying a Tempurpedic and hiring an actual PI.Connecting a gadget that’s used for intimacy to the Internet is definitely not smart. How many orgasms a week a person gets from using a dildo should be private information, yet it’s something that’s been exploited by sex toy manufacturers and hackers.

Dildos such as the We-Vibe have been used to keep track of consumer’s sexual habits and by hackers who can control the intensity of the vibrator remotely. So to be safe, next time you’re considering buying a dildo, maybe just stick to the old-school “no batteries required.”How do you know if you need to drink more water? Well, there’s a list of factors: dry lips, dizziness, headaches, low urine output and increased thirst. Yet, this smart bottle that wants you to listen more to your phone than to your body.

The Hidrate Spark 2 tracks your water intake by syncing with a mobile app and recording how many ounces of water you drink a day, which can also be tracked by remembering how many times you refilled your bottle labeled with the number of ounces on the side.

For a $54 bottle that reminds you to drink water by glowing, you’re better off buying a $10 BPA-free bottle on Amazon and shaking to see if it’s empty — or even better, just by looking inside.

The clothespin dates back to the 1800s, but in 2016 it became “smart.” Meet Peggy, the laundry peg that’s supposed to “help you lighten the load” by telling you when the washer cycle is over and if the weather is nice enough to hang your clothes outside. The device connects to your phones and sends you alerts when the weather changes or when you need to remove your clothes.

If it wasn’t for common sense (and other existing technology), then the Peggy would be a good product. However, you know when your cycles are over when the washer and dryer stop making noise. And you know when the weather is ugly by simply looking outside, or checking your weather app. Therefore, the product is basically just another way hackers can get into your home.

Usually things that go in the trash are of no value and don’t need any kind of inspection, but QUBE wants to change that with “the world’s first smart trash can.” The QUBE claims to help you monitor your trash and help you recycle by using innovative technology.

The QUBE will remind you to recycle, monitor when the trash was last taken out and tell you to change the air freshener. These are all things people usually remember to do anyway, by the smell and all, but now there’s a $300 “elegant” stainless steel can that’ll constantly remind you with annoying mobile alerts.You’d probably never think that a belt could be integrated with artificial intelligence, yet Belty managed to do it and make it seem stylish. The Belty automatically makes you think, “why do I need this?” Then your second thought will probably be, “what if it’s hacked and they make it so tight I can’t breathe?” The first question is rational; the second one is far-fetched — but if it makes you think twice about buying this product, that’s not a bad thing.

In reality, The Betly doesn’t self-adjust so there’s no way of if suddenly tightening around your waist without explanation. However, the Belty is still pretty unnecessary. It’s great that it uses technology to track fitness, water intake and posture, but for $395, you might be better off getting the same in a stylish smart watch or activity tracker.

If you want a refrigerator with a screen, might as well just stick an iPad on it. Samsung unveiled a smart refrigerator this summer that connects to Wi-Fi to help manage groceries and leave notes behind for family members.

The Family Hub has three internal cameras that connect to your phone to help you see what you do and don’t have inside the fridge. So it’s basically a $6,000 alternative to classic grocery list written on paper with a pencil.

Sure, it plays music, has a calendar and even entertains the kids, but it could probably also get hacked — just like everything else.Everyone loves cookies, but buying a smart cookie oven to make them seems like a bit much. The CHIP cookie oven promises to have freshly baked cookies in just 10 minutes, but regardless of the time, it just seems easier to make a much larger batch using the regular old oven.

The CHIP, which retails for $150, can only bake four full-sized cookies at a time. If you were go the traditional way and bake a large batch in the oven, you’d have anywhere between eight and 12 cookies in under 30 minutes — and it’s also cheaper.File this under “great, yet stupid gift ideas.” The BOx bottle opener claims to be the “world’s first smart bottle opener” but it’s not groundbreaking. This bottle opener sends a message to your friends via Messenger every time you open a bottle — crazy, right?

Despite it being not that different from the typical bottle opener, the BOx does have a nice design made with stainless steel and solid wood.Just like you don’t need a smart bottle opener, you don’t need a smart wine bottle. The Kuvee is a bottle of wine with a screen on it that helps you learn about your favorite wines. There’s really nothing more to it, aside that it keeps track of the wines you’ve tasted and can keep bottles fresh for up to 30 days.

The website claims that “the more you sip, the smarter you (and the bottle) get,” but in reality the more you sip, the drunker you get and the less information you’ll retain. For $200 you can get the Kuvee “smart” bottle casing and four different kind of wines, but for $200 you can also get 28 bottles of Yellow Tail Merlot.