The 10 Dumbest Smart Gadgets Ever Invented
In the 1960s, the NASA had a problem. Astronauts need to write in zero gravity. After considerable research, NASA scientists came up with the “space pen.” The Russian space program took a different approach; they gave their cosmonauts pencils.
That’s an urban legend, but it persists because it makes a point that most of us understand intuitively: advanced technology isn’t always an improvement in productivity. Too much technology can get in the way of getting things done.
This is especially true when digital technology is applied to existing products that work just fine without it. Much of the time, high tech applied to a low tech problem is more bother than its worth.
Take, for example, washers, dryers and dishwashers. Almost all of today’s units have built-in computers that allow you to set them for different cycles, even though most people never most of those features.
The options people DO use were once handled with simple mechanical switches. Replacing these physical switches with digital switches adds no real value but greatly decreased product reliability.
Washers, dryers and dishwashers are inherently damp and humid, which is a lousy environment for digital circuits. According to my repair guy, the first thing that fails in today’s machines is always the circuit board.
To make matters worse, the circuit board is always ridiculously expensive–often as much as half of the price of the original machine. Needless to say, this is probably not unintentional.
The same thing is true of automobiles. I have a 2000 and a 2009 Honda CRV. The 2009 is full of computers that have malfunctioned. I get a letter from Honda every few months trying to sell me a $150 upgrade for its crappy onboard GPS.
My 2000 CRV runs great (250,000 miles and counting) and gets superlative gas mileage. I see no sign whatsoever that Honda’s embrace of “high tech” has done anything but make their autos less usable and less reliable.
Which leads me to the “Internet of Things.” You think you get frustrated with your cable box or trying to get Outlook to sync with your iPhone? Brothers and sisters, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
The IoT will be programmed by third rate developers under the thumb of marketers and executives who wouldn’t know ease-of-use if it hit them over the head.
Every IoT device will come with a tiny two-page pamphlet written in barely-understandable English, with no support either by phone or website. Most won’t do what you expect, won’t work at all or stop working within a week.
To make matters worse, the IoT devices that DO work will be hackable. Considering that the business and government alike is reeling from hacks of supposedly secure systems, do we really need MORE backdoors and gateways?
Which brings me to us long-suffering entrepreneurs. Most of us want to get things done, not futz around trying to get crappy device A to talk to crappy device B. The IoT will make entrepreneurs (and everyone else) less productive not more effective.
With that in mind, here’s an infographic from SSLS.com showing some of the more ridiculous devices already wasting people’s time.
July 12, 2018