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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, which will save you energy and money by ensuring you only heat your house when needed. Then there’s the Philips Hue Lights, which allow you to control the illumination in your home. Some will even save your life. The Nest Protect 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.
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.
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, 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 that you want to tell me about, let me know in the comments and we’ll chat.