Courtesy Crock-Pot and LG Appliances

Connected appliances

miles

Devices that allow you to monitor everything, from cooking progress in your Crock-Pot down to the forkful of food you just ate

Chances are at some point in the past five or six years you’ve heard the phrase, “the Internet of things.” In some industrial tech circles it’s even being shortened to “IoT” these days.

Sounds cool and acronym-y, right? And like a lot of the buzzwords that propagate online today, you have to wonder sometimes if the people using it even know what it means.

I’m going to talk about kitchen appliances in a minute here, but because connected appliances are prime examples of the Internet of things in action, let’s get clear on the term first.

The “things” in the phrase are generally not full-featured tools that can send and receive the full range of information available online, like computers, tablets and smartphones. They are connected devices that have a relatively simple purpose: light bulbs that can be activated and adjusted with a smartphone app would be a perfect example.

In industrial settings, oilfield equipment, aircraft engines and even structures like bridges are now being monitored for wear and potential failure, and optimized for maximum efficiency, from remote apps.

Okay, back to the kitchen. How about a crock pot that you can activate, adjust and monitor from your phone? The Crock-Pot WeMo Enabled Smart Cooker has that covered for about $110 from major retailers.

Which of these devices has staying power will ultimately be determined by you. Whatever happens, competition will see makers big and small trying out a lot of cool stuff in the next few years.

LG offers a connectivity feature it calls SmartThinq on its high-end appliances — refrigerators, ranges, washers and dryers. With the SmartThinq app, you can control and keep an eye on the appliances from anywhere.

The idea of connected thermostats and home security systems is by now fairly familiar, and those who own Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are used to being able to control them remotely from an app. A co-worker tells you about a show that sounds intriguing? Grab your phone and set your home system to record tonight’s episode.

Those are all highly practical IoT implementations you’ll wonder how you did without. But there’s no shortage of more novel devices that seem to symbolize a “because we can” approach. Take, for example the GeniCan and the HAPIfork.

As the company’s website, hapi.com, says, “Eat slowly, lose weight, feel great!” Who knew it was so simple?

Finally, the GeniCan is meant to be attached to your kitchen garbage or recycling receptacle. It incorporates a bar-code scanner and a voice recorder that allows you to build a shopping list based on what you are throwing out. In the U.S., it can connect with the Amazon Dash service and order your groceries for you, a service that hasn’t yet landed in Canada.

Which of these devices has staying power will ultimately be determined by you. Whatever happens, competition will see makers big and small trying out a lot of cool stuff in the next few years.

Miles Durrie’s Digital Downlow column appears exclusively in CREB®Now biweekly. Questions? Story suggestions? Email digitaldownlowcalgary@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *