De Vos: The rise of the Internet of Things (column)
March 30, 2017
Kellyanne Conway told us that President Obama was spying on Donald Trump, taking pictures through his microwave. You don't even have to stop and think about it, that's utterly preposterous. Donald Trump has never been near a microwave in his life.
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission said 11 million Vizio televisions had been secretly collecting user data including stuff like location, sex, age, shopping habits and income. They then sold the personal data to target marketers. For this outrageous breach of privacy, the FTC fined Vizio a whopping 2.2 million dollars or the equivalent of one Costco's annual Vizio sales.
Some time ago, I looked down at my electric toothbrush and wondered why on earth it would be Bluetooth enabled. I pondered awhile: toothbrush, Bluetooth, somehow related, but how? Tooth? Help Google! It turns out my toothbrush can phone me and, presumably in my mother's voice, tell me I'm brushing too hard or I'm not brushing long enough. It's unnerving to think my toothbrush is my mom reincarnated.
Two years ago, Mattel did much worse with Hello Barbie, the doll that listened in on your child. Barbie also captured data, using it to refine interactive dialogue. Hello Barbie could say things like "Ask mommy twenty times for the Barbie Pedal Car, available from Toys-R-Us for only $219.99. The Barbie Pedal Car is a great way to carry around your Mademoiselle Barbie Cosmetic Case from Hasbro for only $39.99. Go ask mommy a thousand times. She'll say yes."
It's called the Internet of Things.
A French company named Wair has come out with a scarf that doubles as an air filter. It has a sensor that will call your phone to alert you when the air quality drops so you know to pull up your scarf to filter out the smog.
Starbucks sells a coffee mug with rechargeable batteries that will keep a beverage at your perfect temperature. It comes with an app so you can call your mug as you leave the office and tell it to have your hot toddy ready.
It integrates nicely with your new patio umbrella, the Sunflower, billed as an autonomous robotic shade. It has solar panels that swivel the umbrella to follow the sun. It's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled with USB charging ports, two security cameras, works with Google, Apple and Amazon voice activation and folds itself down in high winds.
All these things can hold meaningful conversations with your Griffin Technology toaster. If your wife gets it in the divorce, it has a phone app that lets you to burn her toast to cinders every time.
LockState has a door lock that will send you an email whenever it's opened. Genican sits on the edge of your kitchen trash can and scans items as you throw them away and autonomously reorders them for you over the Wi-Fi connection. Hapifork is a Bluetooth aware fork that will call your phone and tell you to slow down eating. You can call Eggminder from the store and it will tell you how many eggs are left in your refrigerator. It also points out which eggs are the freshest.
Things around us are coming alive, chattering back and forth amongst themselves. I hope they never turn on us.