This summer, while some of you were vacationing on the shores of Ibiza and others were hiking Patagonia (the region, not the store), my wife and I were having our second kid, Lucy Rose, AND moving into a new house. As you can imagine, I was pretty busy, which would explain why, for the first time in at least a decade, I didn’t write a Spire Wire last quarter.
Throughout this “wonderful” period of fear and loathing, endurance and stamina, and sleep deprivation and baby vomit, I kept myself sane by obsessing over the mundanities that exist in this new suburban old-dad domestic life I suddenly find myself living in. One thing that stood out to me is how much crap is connected to the internet these days.
Yes, building things connected to the Internet is how I earn the money to pay for the aforementioned house and child. Still, I’m blown away by how ubiquitous the Internet of Things is and how saturated the market has become.
In my home alone, there are more devices than Macaulay Culkin used to foil Joe Pesci and his crew of thieves. Of course, we have the de rigeur Nest thermostat, Ring doorbell, and Sonos sound system. But we also have a smart dishwasher, washer and dryer, refrigerator, sprinkler system (shout out to Denver’s own Rachio), garage door opener, alarm system…the list goes on and on and on. You really can’t buy anything these days without it being somewhat app-enabled.
For my daughter, we have a baby monitor that streams via the cloud, a bassinet that gathers data to optimize rocking patterns, a teddy bear that downloads customized lullabies from the Web, and a smart sock that monitors oxygen levels and heart rate. This infant at 9 weeks old already has more tech than I had when I was 40.
Everything is smart!!! Smart fork that tells you if you’re eating too fast? Check! Smart yoga mats that measure the quality of your poses? Check! Smart toilets that examine your poop? Check! Smart litter boxes that clean up your cat’s poop? Check!!! I’m having smart overload. I just want my life to be dumb again. Not gonna happen! Show me something that’s not yet smart and I’ll show you at least 10 entrepreneurs working to make it smart.
Like all technology, the key with the Internet of Things is to determine which features are useful and disruptive and which are just plain stupid. If there are too many smart features, they will cannibalize the core features. If it’s too complicated, no one will use it. And, if it’s too annoying, people will destroy it. Hit the middle ground and you get Nest or Alexa. Go the other way and you end up in the failed Kickstartergogotank in the sky. And that would be dumb!
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