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Friday, 3 April 2015

“Repetition, predictability and lack of surprise is the mother of boredom!” Why I don’t see it happen: the ‘internet of things’ as a dealbreaking global development.

The ‘internet of things’, the concept that many appliances in your house – your lighting, television set, oven, fridge or your espresso machine, washing machine and thermostat – are connected with you through internet, has been a hot issue of late.

It is a development that many internet guru’s see as inevitable and as the next hot development to happen in the world. It has been all over Twitter and LinkedIn lately and if you believe these aforementioned internet guru’s, you will be able to steer your whole house with your smartphone in little more than a jiffy.

But stop… wait a minute! Where I mentioned “of late”, I should have said more accurately, ‘it has been a hot issue for over ten years’. Unless you see there different things – which is of course perfectly possible – I haven´t seen the department stores being flooded with connected refrigerators, ovens and espresso machines yet.

I have to admit that I’m far from an early adopter! 

Heck, I can rather be considered as a late adopter… or to use this beautiful Dutch proverb: “I am watching how the cat climbs out of the tree”, before I sprint to the department store to buy the latest gadget.

Nevertheless, I have the idea that, except for the Smart TV – which reputedly forwards private information about one's television and internet behaviour to the Samsung laboratories – and perhaps an odd, connected thermostat or game computer, this whole ‘internet of things’  revolution is still not going anywhere, in my not very humble opinion.

Perhaps, there is a good reason for that?!

Could for instance my refrigerator read the minds of me and my family and decide about what we are going to eat the next week? My wife surely can, although she has a tendency to remain slightly within her comfort zone! On top of that, she is a sucker for good bargains at the supermarket and she carefully picks the best products for the best price.

Yet, I have serious doubts if my refrigerator can do that? Probably it will keep a kind of safety stock for daily products, like dairy, bread and sandwich fillings – which we would need to learn it anyway - and order the things that we always order at the supermarket.

Still, I wonder if we would be glad about it, when we would have to visit the supermarket’s internet service point every day in order to pick up a few odd groceries, which fell below the safety stock within that day. And if you don’t mind, I would like to keep our daily groceries out of the Samsung laboratories: just in case!

And an even bigger problem is, when you would ask your refrigerator or your coffee machine to order foodstuffs and things for you, it would every day order the same meat, the same brand and flavour of coffee, the same veggies, the same additional products, like potatoes, rice, couscous and flour. And it would order those things at the same supermarket and at probably too high prices, as it doesn’t know the bargains by heart, like the Mrs. does.

And in our own household the rule of thumb is: “Repetition, predictability and lack of surprise is the mother of boredom!” Therefore we want to be boss of our own refrigerator and coffee supply, as we know best ourselves what we want to eat, drink or have.

And I can’t help wondering exactly how useful a thermostat is that one can manage through his smartphone?! My ‘old-fashioned’  Honeywell clock thermostat still works like a charm and when we leave the house for a few days or weeks, we put it lower and accept a few hours of low temperatures when we return.

At least I don’t have to THINK about directing it on a daily basis, when I go home from work, as it would be another task on my yet impressive task list.

Summarized, I could not think of many ways in which the ‘internet of things’ could improve our family life, but I do see some specifications and habits which could actually deteriorate that. 

But never mind, I’m just a – nearly fifty years – old grumpy guy and I was never an early adopter. Never… 

(Which does not mean that I have not been right about such things more often, by the way)

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