I’m going to say it, not everything has to be ‘smart’

So here’s the thing – I love technology. Anything that makes life easier, simpler or ‘better’ is a plus. However, do you ever feel like we’re getting so obsessed with making our lives smart – that we’re missing the point?
PetNet smart feeder
PetNet smart feeders automatically dispense pet food. Image: PetNet

Connected living

The smart home is becoming increasingly popular. About a quarter of homes have a smart device. These range from Echo Dots, Samsung Smart Bulbs, Ring WiFi doorbells to Nest thermostats – you name it.

In a lot of ways, this tech is extremely useful. Timers and thermostats save on utility bills and offer conveniences such as kicking up the heating on your commute home.

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that some smart technology isn’t actually making life better. Rather, it might just be making us lazier. And being completely reliant on your internet connection is a dangerous habit to form.

Have we become so dependant on being connected online, that we are forgetting how to be connected as people?

Ring doorbell cam
A hacked accessed a Ring home security system and spoke through the speakers. Image: Ring

When smart homes go bad

Ok, so I’m not talking here about the┬árobots taking over. I’m talking about habit forming, where we’re so familiar with connected living that we struggle to cope without it.

As an example; the PetNet Smart Feeder. This device dispenses food on a schedule and is controlled by a smartphone or by your smart home device. I can’t get my head around this. I have dogs and a hamster (oh yes, and a small child!) and cannot imagine a world where I would feel comfortable leaving a machine to remember to feed them.

It makes sense if you might be stuck in traffic and are worried about running late – but really, should you be looking after a pet if you can’t rely on yourself to be able to take care of them?

This concern was borne out in 2016 when the PetNet tech failed and pets around the world were left without food for ‘up to 10 hours’.

Their owners, I am sure, went about their day safe in the knowledge that their SmartFeeder hadn’t starved their pet – all for a tidy sum of $130.

Amazon Echo Dot 3
Amazon Echo Dot 3. Image: Amazon

The risk of reliance

There are hundreds of examples like this. If you have time on your hands, take a look at some of the silliest smart home devices on the market – smart egg box anyone?

My concern is that we are so familiar with smart tech, that we are losing common sense.

Smart security devices can be very valuable. Indeed, we reported last week on the first-ever case of a murder confession being recorded on a smart doorbell.

On the flip side, our increasingly connected homes pose risks to our security that we aren’t yet clearly seeing. Home speaker apps for Google and Alexa products have been found to be illicitly recording conversations.

Last month we talked about how a Ring security system was hacked, and the hacker then spoke to a young child through their own home security network.

We need to start being serious about the technology we have in our homes. Not jumping on to the latest bandwagon of something that sounds cool, but really deciding how it is making our life better. And, if the potential trade-off is worth it.

amazon smart plug
Smart plugs are either pre-programmed or work on voice or sound activation. Image: Amazon

How connected is too connected

Convenience is king. The ultimate freedom is being able to monitor and control your home from your mobile. Receive a parcel, answer your door and turn off your lights from anywhere in the world.

Personally, I don’t want an electronic lock that could be hacked or copied. I want a solid security key that I can hold in my hand. I don’t want a smart fridge to do my shopping for me, I want to choose what food I buy.

Being addicted to your mobile is a very real problem so I say we need to step away from the WiFi for just a minute and take stock of how we live.

Smart living is one of those trends that has crept up. We all want to be on top of the curve and have the latest technology in our homes. However, I’d recommend giving it a little more thought before investing in your next connected device. It might not be quite as valuable as you think.

What are your thoughts? Do you think connected living is taking away from our common sense? How have smart home devices changed the way you and your family live? Let me know your thoughts!

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