Smart home: Solving problems or just making us lazy?

Larry Bellehumeur, M2M / IoT Consultant,
Novotech Technologies

Hello and thanks for reading. I remember talking to a fellow entrepreneur who sold some of the least sexy products on earth…. ranging from toilet plungers to door stops.

When I asked him why he didn’t sell things that were a bit more state of the art, he said that it made more sense to not have to convince people that they have to buy something….it was better to sell things that actually solved a problem, says Larry Bellehumeur, M2M / IoT Consultant at Novotech Technologies.

Got me to thinking… sometimes, are we just creating products to solve problems that don’t really exist? Why is using something that was designed decades ago a bad thing if it still does the job reliably, safely and without a lot of thought?

What started me down this path was a recent purchase that I made for Black Friday. It was simply time to replace our old washer/dryer. For my new purchase, I didn’t intend on getting a smart appliance, just rather one that will clean clothes without eating my kid’s socks. As it turns out, I ended up buying a smart appliance, one that will send you a text when certain cycles are coming and will also alert you when the machine is done.

Wow, all of these years I have been doing things wrong… how could I have ever lived without knowing the exact millisecond that my machine has finished?

Now, one cannot blame Whirlpool for putting in such a feature. Making things smart is simply good business. As well, I am sure that they can use the on-board connection for remote diagnostics and even gathering information about the device’s usage. As well, they mention how it can be used to delay cycles until the usage will no longer be in peak energy hours, which is good for the environment and potentially for my pocketbook.

My thought was…. did we solve a problem that didn’t really exist?

The big advance in appliances was in fact the invention of the appliance itself….using even a crude washing machine is a lot easier than washing by hand. Advancements after that have been more minor…. basically improving the ability to clean while using less water / detergent / electricity. So, perhaps this is just the natural evolution to convince us to upgrade.

The bottom line

If adding smart technology helps a company like Whirlpool improve both their bottom line (through increased sales) and the overall quality of their products (through better information usage / preventive information), then I guess it is a good thing to “smarten” their washers. However, if this is truly how IoT is going to advance, we won’t see the huge gains that we are all counting on….the IoT revolution will become more of an “IoT evolution” and won’t be as lucrative as we hope.

The author of this blog is Larry Bellehumeur, M2M / IoT Consultant, Novotech Technologies

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @M2MNow OR @jcm2m

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