Smart Home

Tweeting Fridges and Web Controlled Rice Cookers: 9 of the Stupidest Smart Home Appliances

Matthew Hughes 12-04-2015

There are a lot of incredible smart home devices out there that are worthy of your time and money. Some of the examples that spring immediately to mind include the Nest thermostat How to Install and Use the Nest Thermostat to Automate Energy Savings If you've ever considered getting started with home automation, purchasing a Nest thermostat is the perfect way to start. In just a week of using it, we cut our energy consumption in half. Read More , which will save you energy and money by ensuring you only heat your house when needed. Then there’s the Philips Hue Lights The 7 Best Philips Hue Apps for Android and iPhone Looking for the best Philips Hue apps to use with your smart lights? Here are several great apps for iPhone and Android. Read More , which allow you to control the illumination in your home. Some will even save your life. The Nest Protect Nest Protect Review and Giveaway Read More is an incredibly precise WiFi connected smoke and carbon monoxide detector.


They are all useful products that will ultimately become ubiquitous because they’re so incredibly helpful.

But then there are the WiFi enabled, smartphone-powered appliances that aren’t quite as useful. The kinds that should never see the light of day. Here are 9 of the worst.

Panasonic Handset-Enabled Rice Cooker

Plain, boiled rice is one of the easiest dishes you can cook.

God help you if you’re so dense you need to spend over $1000 on a WiFi enabled rice cooker to make the culinary equivalent of playing chopsticks on the piano. But some people are, which explains the existence of the Panasonic Handset-Enabled Rice Cooker.



It be controlled through a FeliCa enabled smartphone (like NFC, but even fewer people use it), and can store up to 100 recipes by connecting to the Panasonic Cooking Cloud Server. No, I’m not making this up.


Brits love their tea. According to the hallowed hansard of truth OMGFacts, Brits drink something approaching 60 billion cups per annum. That probably explains why India was colonized, as well as the unsightly British smile.

It also makes it less surprising that British novelty electronics retailer FireBox is offering a WiFi enabled kettle. Yes, for £99, you too can brew up from your iPhone. Meet the iKettle.

Not only does it allow you to remotely boil some water on demand, but can also synchronize with your alarm, and even boil a pot of water when you come home.


It’s the height of laziness, and given the short life of electric kettles, is very expensive for what it is. Avoid.


How do you like your steak? Seasoned with a bit of garlic and rosemary, perhaps? How about with an essence of burned plastic and melted electronics? Yum.

If that sounds like something for you, check out the Pantelligent. This $249 frying pan allows you to track the temperature of your food, and even gives cooking instructions from its iPhone app.

Or, you can just learn to cook. It’s not that hard. Certainly not hard enough to warrant spending $249 on a frying pan.



The Porkfolio is the coin-counting piggy bank taken to its logical extreme, and includes sensors and electronics that measure how much you’re saving from your iPhone and makes it easy to set goals.


The only problem is it costs an eye watering $49, which effectively nullifies any savings you would make from keeping your loose change. Don’t bother with it. Just use a mason jar.

If you want to take money saving to the next level, try getting some budgeting software like YNAB YNAB Makes It Easy to Make a Budget and Stick to It Does your checking account remind you of a debt-burdened Southern European nation? You Need A Budget. We know it's tough to keep track of spendings. YNAB can help. Read More .


Satis Toilet

You might have updated your Twitter on the shitter, but have you ever flushed the toilet from your phone?

The Satis Toilet lets you do that, and more through its embedded electronics and its companion Android app. It even comes with built-in speakers that allow you listen to your favorite tunes as you drop a load.


Suggested listening material includes R Kelly’s Trapped In The (water) Closet, Uptown Dump by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, Cheeks Are Moving by Meghan Trainor, and anything by Ariana Grande.

Samsung RF4289 Refrigerator

What do you look for in a fridge? Do you just want it to keep your food cool? Or do you want it to post tweets, check the weather, and update your calendar?

If you said yes to the last question, then the Samsung RF4289 is for you. It packs an 8 inch touchscreen into 28 cubic feet of fridge, and can connect to the Internet through a WiFi or an Ethernet connection.

How much for such an… ahem… worthwhile bit of kit? A snip under $3,500.

Egg Minder

Do you know how many eggs are in your fridge?

Well, do you? If you don’t, you could always stand up and check. Or, you can buy an Egg Minder and find out from your iPhone. Yes, this is a real product but it really shouldn’t be.

The Egg Minder costs $49 and has even been featured on the Jay Leno show. It allows you to remotely check how many eggs are in your fridge, how long they’ve been there, and not much else.


Anyone who knows me is acutely aware with my love of food. Indeed my Facebook (and Instagram) timeline is mostly photos of stuff I’ve eaten, and stuff I’ve cooked. So, I should be all over this WiFi enabled sous vide cooker (no longer available), right?

Well, no. Sous Vide is the latest trendy method of cooking food, and involves sealing meat or fish in a plastic bag and submerging it in a temperature-controlled bath of water. Usually around the 40ºC mark.

The problem is, this is also a recipe for growing bacteria, since food needs to reach 100ºc to kill any of the microscopic nasties living in it.

It’s not cool. It’s not clever. It’s just a WiFi enabled way to give yourself chronic diarrhea.


Okay, I’m cheating here. Kisha isn’t strictly speaking a smart-home device, but it’s so astonishingly stupid, it’d be rude not to mention it. But what is it?

Brace yourself folks. It’s a doozy. Kisha is the world’s first smart umbrella. Yep. You heard me right. A smart umbrella. So, what makes it smart? Does it cure cancer? Will it find a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East? Not quite.

This £49 ($75) umbrella tells you when it’s likely to rain (like every smartphone does already, and for free), and alerts you when you’re walking away from your super-expensive umbrella. Because the appropriate solution to the problem of losing a $4 umbrella in a restaurant is to spend $75 on a bluetooth enabled one.

Your Idea Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad

From tweeting fridges, to WiFi controlled Sous-Vide cookers, there are some terrible smart home devices out there. I found nine of the worst. But do you think I missed any? Let me know in the comments below.

Likewise, if you’re working on a smart home device that isn’t stupid, or you’ve got a hardware startup Why Hardware Startups Are Hard: Bringing the ErgoDox to Life Here’s a controversial opinion for you: launching a software startup is easy. Hardware, on the other hand? Hardware startups are hard. Really hard. Read More that you want to tell me about, let me know in the comments and we’ll chat.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Wanda Sloan
    December 6, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Boy, you guys know your technology but you sure don't know rice. Rice cookers do not let's repeat NOT boil rice, they steam it. You're right that it doesn't require a smartphone, right that it's not hard to learn how to cook rice with or without a $50 ($30 is better) rice cooker. But boy, are you wrong about how claiming you know how to cook rice.

  2. Andrew
    May 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    The Wifi enabled fridge could actually be quite useful with a few tweaks. If it was able to tell what it has inside of it then you could use it to basically make yourself a shopping list of things that need topping up. Say you were running low on ketchup, the fridge could automatically add that to a shopping list for you. Or maybe that sandwich ham that is in there is getting a bit old, the fridge could warn you about it. You could even do something like that recipe site that gives you recipes for the items that you happen to have in your fridge/pantry. You could even build up on that and have it automatically order food and whatnot online to get home delivered at a time of your choosing. All this though hinges on the fridge being able to analyse the contents which I do not believe the Samsung fridge does..

    • Anonymous
      February 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      "you could use it to basically make yourself a shopping list of things that need topping up"
      That is SOOO last century! A smart fridge with WiFi connection should be able to keep track of its contents and, when running low, should automatically re-order from a supermarket. It should also be able to pay with your credit card and have the food delivered to your door. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek)

      IoT is for id10ts with more money than brains.

  3. Scarlet Manuka
    April 28, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Gnoitall writes:
    > TBH, most of this “review” comes down to “Derp, they do stuff
    > I don’t do, so they’re stupid.”

    No, I think it comes down more to "look, there's an internet-enabled version of this (simple thing that doesn't really need internet control), and it costs you (five, ten, twenty) times as much as the normal, simple version! What a ripoff."

    Although the comments on the sous-vide cooker were just directed at sous-vide in general, so your point applies there, and to a lesser extent to the rice cooker (it's not clear whether the denigration was aimed at people who need a rice cooker at all, or people who spend $1,000 on one when you can get a perfectly good one for $50).

  4. Peter Flynn
    April 24, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Dickon Hood writes:
    > Kettles — at least here in the UK, where we have a sensible 230V at the socket,
    > rather than a paltry 110V you get in the US — last practically forever.

    I wish they did. My last one packed up because of a badly manufactured switch, which just broke (and because it was heat-sealed into the body, couldn't be replaced). Now the lid on my replacement had broken, due to a badly-skimped corner-moulding where the lug which forms the hinge-pin protrudes. If they can't get it right on ordinary kettles, there is ZERO hope that net-connected ones will be any better...

    • John
      February 23, 2017 at 7:41 am

      Try "Which?" they look at reliability.

  5. Patricio
    April 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    If you think that all food should reach 100ºC, you have never eaten a medium rare steak (core temperature around 56ºC). Also, I have never seen any sous vide recipe recommending 40ºC, all are usually above the "danger zone" and sufficient to pasteurize the food. The finishing step (searing at high temperature) takes care of the microbes on the surface.

  6. Dickon Hood
    April 23, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    A couple of points:

    Kettles -- at least here in the UK, where we have a sensible 230V at the socket, rather than a paltry 110V you get in the US -- last practically forever.

    Sous-vide -- literally, 'under vacuum' in French -- isn't a stupid way of cooking food. Louis Pasteur invented the process of pasteurisation in 1864, and these days milk and the like are heated to 72 degrees C for 15 seconds to kill the majority of the nasties -- 100 degrees is ridiculously over temperature. Sous-vide cooking typically raises temperatures in meat and fish to 60-80 degrees C, depending on the thing being cooked and the rareness you want it. Either way, 100 deg. C is far, far too hot for most meats, and a typical roast shouldn't be above 80 or so.

    Eggs shouldn't be kept in the fridge:,5753,-26086,00.html

    That said, I wouldn't touch any of these with a three-metre bargepole. Too damned expensive, and *how* much to cook some rice?!

  7. Gnoitall
    April 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Any review of a rice cooker that starts with a discussion of "plain, boiled rice" is fatally flawed in the first dozen words.

    Proper rice is steamed short-grain rice. Precisely what the Panasonic is designed to do.

    Yeah. NFC control is massively ridiculous. But in some culinary traditions (Japanese, for instance), there is such a thing as "rice recipes", so either you have the ones you used memorized or on paper, or in electronic storage of some kind. Such as in the memory of the cooker.

    TBH, most of this "review" comes down to "Derp, they do stuff I don't do, so they're stupid." Class.

  8. Mr.Hotaling
    April 15, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Most of these items are controlled or connected through an i(product). It just shows that the people who over-spend for their communications are also willing to purchase non-productive appliances.

  9. Wenke Adam
    April 14, 2015 at 1:15 am

    As long as there are people with money to spend and who like to try new things, it will be possible to continue inventing. Many terrific invention started as toys or as mostly useless gadgets, until someone found out what they could really be used for!

  10. John Williams
    April 14, 2015 at 12:55 am

    You should have added the Philips lightbulb to this list. They are nearly all just fancy remote controls. Who loads and cleans the rice cooker? Will you always remember to fill the kettle? All kettles will switch itself off if it detects no water. Then the remote is useless
    The useful widget in this article is the Nest because it learns and remembers. I don't really want a remote control beyond the TV and the garage door opener, I want fully automatic automation. The house or whatever just does stuff it needs to do and if I'm curious I can look on my phone to see how much it has helped me.

  11. Silverlokk
    April 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Not keen on the smart umbrella although it does inspire me to install a BT radio on my $4 umbrella.

  12. Gavin
    April 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    "God help you if you’re so dense..." Truthfully, I almost stopped reading the article after reading that line. I expected every invention to receive the same insult. Some people will find a use for everything on this list, and they'll buy it because it will make their life easier and/or they have the money to waste (amongst other reasons). Laziness is when you can't/won't switch a light on or off by flicking a switch on the wall.

  13. Violeta Nedkova
    April 13, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Wow, these make me feel like I've entered one of those futuristic parodies. At least it's just my kitchen. Hell knows what awaits in the other rooms...

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Ha, it's like The Jetsons.

      But much, much worse.

  14. Dick Deckert
    April 13, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Just because you can is not a good reason to buy this crap! Why aren't young people smarter? They don' learn from their parental units like us older folk did. They're lost in a world of make believe from computer games and other brain killing machines instead of learning about the world they live[?] in. Fie on you, you're dumbing down America!

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      I also think bluetooth-enabled umbrellas will destroy Western civilization.

      They're in an axis of evil, along with the Pantelligent and the EggMinder.

  15. Maarten
    April 12, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    I honestly think that EggMinder is pretty cool though. As a passioned cake/gingerbread/and actually any other pastry maker, I do sometimes have the need to know whether an egg is still good to use or not. Since we have our own chickens and don't always write a date on the shell of the egg, this could be a nice device to have.

    Downside: In our usually filled fridge, it isn't possible to add this device. It would be useful if it was smaller and it could replace the special shelf in de door for the eggs.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      There's a really easy way to find out, Maarten. Drop an egg in a glass of water. If it floats, it's bad. If it sinks, it's good.

      You can paypal me the $49 you would have spent on an EggMinder. And you're welcome.

      • John
        February 23, 2017 at 7:38 am

        Maestro, should we keep our eggs in water and discard those that flout?

  16. Brian Wisti
    April 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    My first tech job was at a startup working on an Internet-enabled television for the kitchen. We had grand visions of all of these devices, and somebody may have even used the phrase "Internet of Things" - or was it "Things on the Internet"? Dunno. My 1999 thought was that those visions were silly. I still hold to that thought in 2015, now that these things actually exist. Of the silly things that exist, the Pantelligent looks like it would be fun to try out, though I probably wouldn't spend $250 on it.

    • Matthew Hughes
      April 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      They are silly, Brian. They are silly. ;)