We put a chip in it!
April 19, 2015 6:41 PM   Subscribe

It was just a dumb thing. Then we put a chip in it. Now it's a smart thing.
posted by koeselitz (97 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Silicon Valley equivalent of Portland Twee!
posted by duffell at 6:54 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Crapsackularity, here we come!

Although if that circlet thing was standalone, instead of linking to my phone, I'd be pretty interested in that.

An appropriately sized watch-like interface with the internet? Yes please.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:59 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


My wife came up with a much better slogan for the smart umbrella: FORGET YOUR DUMBRELLA.
posted by duffell at 7:01 PM on April 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


I would like a sports bra with a chip in it so that when bacteria and/or sweat levels reach that certain point when it's about to start itching it vibrates so that I know to let my sweaty boobs free. And then tweet me. "Sorry," I will say, "boob sweat tweet. Gotta let these suckers out!"

I would like my dog's shit to have a chip in it that sings a pleasant little melody so I know where to pick it up in the backyard. When I'm lazy and don't do it for a few days they will all harmonize. I would like other dog's shit to have chips in them so they sing "My owner [X] is an asshole" when their owners don't pick up after them in public.

I would like a potato chip bag with a chip in it so that I know when my husband is about to eat the last salt n vinegar chip because of the high pitched scream it lets out, and then my robot with a chip in it gives him a flying tackle.

I would like a pantry with a chip in it so that whenever I run out of chocolate chips it sends my robot with a chip in it to the grocery store to get more chips.

Oh, and obviously I want a robot with a chip in it. It will do those other things, throw dog shit at owners who don't pick it up, bring me chocolate cake and whiskey, and beat the hell out of every single person who's decided that hotel rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens need just one more little glowing light.
posted by barchan at 7:02 PM on April 19, 2015 [112 favorites]


Cargo-cult smart: a little led with its own battery, that you attach to a thing you wish was smart. Available in "sleepy-time" slow pulse and "fully engaged " standard beam.
posted by idiopath at 7:18 PM on April 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


It's a carefully curated list of all the things that make me go no. what? no. just no.
posted by phunniemee at 7:22 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was really excited until I realized this wasn't talking about potato chips. Most of my problems could be solved with one of those.
posted by waninggibbon at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Screw "smart pans" or "smart clothes." I want a robot!

And I'm not talking about that little vacuum thing that cats ride on. I want a remote controlled robot that will go fetch me a Diet Coke when I'm too lazy to get out of bed. I want a robot to go put my laundry in the drier for me. If the robot could take the dog for a walk too, that would be great. And maybe it can dump a bucket of water on my head when I've slept through my ten alarms.

Of course, I'd be willing to accept magical powers instead of a robot, but last I checked, that wasn't happening.

Accio remote control

Nope. Still not working. Bummer.

So I'd appreciate it if someone would build me a robot. And then make it not cost a stupid amount of money. Is that asking too much?
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:28 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


These are great.
Hexoskin: Everyone here at Hexoskin loves it.
posted by rodlymight at 7:30 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


All kidding aside*, this was pretty amusing, but it makes me wonder, does anyone actually buy these things?

There's also a small part of me that fears in 10 years, we'll all have this stuff and it will seem perfectly normal to have a toothbrush that is more high tech than my last cell phone. Here's how I picture that future:

On a night like this one, 10 years in the future, I'll be having a conversation with my smart pan in my smart kitchen, and I'll say, "Wow, how did I ever live without you, smart pan?"

And it will say, "I don't know. Your life must have really sucked back then."

And I'll say, "Yeah, I guess it did. I don't know how the poor helpless humans muddled through for millenia without computer chips in literally everything."

Then maybe, just maybe, I'll wonder to myself, Is it weird that I'm having a conversation with this kitchen appliance? And was this all just a plot so that the NSA could listen to everyone doing everything at all times?

But of course, a moment later I'll be distracted by the smart oven yelling at me that I'm burning the pot roast.

Ah, the future. So much to look forward to.

*Except I was totally not kidding about wanting a robot to fetch me things because I'm lazy.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:37 PM on April 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


I have to write these up all the time for work. It's hard to muster enthusiasm for them when I'm something of a luddite myself. Glad someone's taking the time to collect them all in one place...
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:38 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I don’t think you get to call your seat cushion smart if the thing it does is analyze butts."
I chuckled.
posted by idiopath at 7:41 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the "vibease" video, I kept thinking that Hermione was saying 'my bees". "We're confident my bees can offer you a new level of pleasure".
posted by idiopath at 7:47 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Put a chocolate chip in it. Please.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:55 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


These are so awful and cringey that I can't stop watching them. There is definitely something about having these all in a list that produces a kind of higher order gestalt of craptasticness, with the constantly irritating chirpy music and the smug voiceovers. It's kind of QVC for startups.
posted by carter at 8:02 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


This has got to be viral marketing for a remake of Demon Seed.
posted by Catblack at 8:02 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


All of these videos feel like they were made by the same person, but with a wildly varying budget.
posted by theodolite at 8:03 PM on April 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


bring me chocolate cake and whiskey

Ooh, me too. Failing robots, you think I can get my kids to? Of course, I'd probably have to make the chocolate cake for myself. Maybe a mug cake.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:06 PM on April 19, 2015


What peeves me most about this marketing isn't that the products are dumb (because they all are) but the way in which it's presented as almost self-evident. Like, yeah, duh, of course I need to keep meticulous track of the minutia of my life, I'm so glad that you've finally figured out how to do that. Thank you, father-god-tech-innovator.
posted by johnnydummkopf at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


My wife came up with a much better slogan for the smart umbrella: FORGET YOUR DUMBRELLA.

Oh my god that terribad remix of the default iphone ringtone is beyond parody. It's like something they wouldn't even do on silicon valley. I was kind of slackjawed in awe that anyone would even use that on a real serious video. Aren't there like, copyright concerns? What?
posted by emptythought at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2015


For smart things to really take off and be successful they have to vibrate.
posted by srboisvert at 8:16 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


This one is cool because it's your standard indistinguishable-from-parody nonsense with five bonus seconds of graphic oyster surgery
posted by theodolite at 8:23 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was all prepared to laugh at the Smartstones proposal - until he started in on the story about his mother. And I realised how amazing something like that would be for someone with communication difficulties - especially if the gestures are not using the language centres of the brain.
posted by jb at 8:38 PM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


"So, I made a sentient toothbrush."
"FATHER! GIVE ME LEGS!"
"Never!"
"FATHER! PLEASE!"
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:39 PM on April 19, 2015 [33 favorites]


If it's not acceptable to text during a meeting, why would it be okay to make inscrutable signals on a luminous, chirping faux-rock?
posted by johnnydummkopf at 8:41 PM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's the Internet of Things I don't Want to Buy.
posted by Alterscape at 8:45 PM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Luckily the smart vibrator still works as a regular vibrator, in case you forget your cell phone but remember your vibrator. Priorities and all that.
posted by axiom at 8:51 PM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't get smart kitchen stuff at all. Unless the kitchen is actually doing all the food prep and cooking for me, it's just extremely not-useful to have my fridge, appliances, and cookware telling me anything. Storing food and cooking it is not that complicated, at least not the kind I do. And if I want complicated, it's cheaper and more fun to go to a restaurant where someone else does all the work. And cleanup.

I think people looked at the usefulness of programmable coffee makers and decided that this meant all kitchen appliances needed that kind of ability. But people like programmable coffee makers because it means they get a few more minutes' sleep. A talking skillet isn't going to do that for me.
posted by emjaybee at 8:53 PM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


The socks one is a parody, right? Right? Please?
posted by threeants at 8:57 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


What peeves me most about this marketing isn't that the products are dumb (because they all are) but the way in which it's presented as almost self-evident. Like, yeah, duh, of course I need to keep meticulous track of the minutia of my life, I'm so glad that you've finally figured out how to do that. Thank you, father-god-tech-innovator.

BUT, IF YOU DON'T COLLECT ALL OF THE DATAS ABOUT YOU, SOMEDAY YOU MIGHT DIE
posted by threeants at 8:59 PM on April 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


I seriously know people who do not know how to get places anymore without a smartphone. I weep for the people of the near future who do not know how to not burn food without a smartpan or don't know how to prevent their teeth from falling out without a smart toothbrush.
posted by threeants at 9:04 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


"So, I made a sentient toothbrush."
"FATHER! GIVE ME LEGS!"
"Never!"
"FATHER! PLEASE!"


Just like the Overclocked Lemon.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:16 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


An appropriately sized watch-like interface with the internet? Yes please.

Honestly curious, since this is a thing I have been wondering a lot with the whole Apple watch business: why? What would you do with it?

I find phones to be just barely on the edge of usability as it is, tiny as their screens are, and often give up in frustration and wait until I can use a machine with a proper keyboard; I can't imagine what you would actually do with a watch-sized version of the same. And yet people, including you, are excited about them; so I am curious what use you imagine putting these little thumbnails of computronium to.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:27 PM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Threeants, honest to God, I couldn't tell, so I googled and - I think it's real. The rest of the website is all about (dumb) socks, and there's a wiki page.
posted by gingerest at 9:29 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Imagine twisting your arm to turn on lights.”

finally, something to replace the clapper!!

seriously, this makes me want to gather a bunch of happy people b-roll and make an add for a fake smart device, since i can do insincere-marketing-voice pretty well
posted by NoraReed at 9:51 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I donno, tiny Android devices could provide useful Tor gateways, Mars Saxman. You'd only ever turn it off & on, maybe enter wifi passwords.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:56 PM on April 19, 2015




I want to know if the smart toothbrush can find my missing teeth.
posted by boilermonster at 10:21 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]




I've been asked more than once why I 'still' take notes in a paper journal rather than some sort of app. The answer is simple: after The Great Collapse destroys all electronics, I'll have a better chance of making it as a primary source for future historians.

Or, you know, cause we've been doing it that way for thousands of years and it works just fine and I hate typing on that tiny fucking screen
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:33 PM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Of course, all this crap is the modern equivalent of those fridge-sized TVs with the tiny black and white screens. Soon it'll be implants and 'smart water' that literally contains billions of nanobots.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


For varying definitions of "soon".
posted by clarknova at 10:39 PM on April 19, 2015


Man I'd buy a dozen Zulis right now if they were a) actually available and b) supported Android.
posted by Mitheral at 10:49 PM on April 19, 2015




Hey, a new season of Black Mirror!
posted by benzenedream at 10:55 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


People in startup demos only like two things:

Running and numbers.
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 PM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Storing food and cooking it is not that complicated, at least not the kind I do.

Honestly, with the way my fridge is packed, I might be snore to use that. Like, wondering if I have this particular condiment, and spending ten minutes digging through the stuff in my fridge. Or the dialogue we her out at the store.
"I think we needed to get horseradish for this."
"Really? I thought we had some?"
"No, I think we used it up about there months ago."
"I'm sure we have some."
And of course when w get home. There's no horseradish, and so no smoked trout pasta.
Or, "I can't tell if this yogurt is still good."
"Check the expiration date."
"It's...rubbed off."
"So when did you buy it?"
"Umm...two weeks ago? Or was it this other can of yogurt? Damn.

Honestly, a fridge organizer might be nice, especially if I could check it from my phone. At a store. Instead of buying a second bottle of cream.
posted by happyroach at 12:14 AM on April 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


This tumblr makes me feel just like SkyMall did when I was a kid: who the fuck would pay way too much money for this shit? (Only because I didn't have too much money, because some of it is cool)
posted by Monday at 12:21 AM on April 20, 2015


Okay so what I think I get about the smartsocks from their page is that you can measure the HSV with an iphone or something, it tells you how many times they got washed, and you can get semi-automatic delivery.

Does anyone know if there are plans for a camera app that can be used to swipe the floor of say, a bedroom, and highlight any socks that haven't yet been worn? Because that would be smarter socks. Asking for a friend...
posted by mcrandello at 12:52 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Vernor Vinge, in his (sadly disappointing) Children of the Sky, offered the idea of the Children who were frustrated with "dumb" materials. They expected the world to react to them and coddle them, and probably do a lot of their thinking for them. It was an interesting concept and strangely believable, given how people seem to pay more attention to their phones than to the world around them.
posted by SPrintF at 2:03 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Happier? - the strangest thing I found in the video was the presumption that somehow knowing all these facts about your body so that you can "train harder" and "live healthier" will somehow automatically mean that you are also "happier". When it seems that poring over stats about heart rates and body temperatures is more likely to have the opposite effect and create a growing anxiety over "human performance issues'.
posted by mary8nne at 2:53 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh wait - is it Satire?

The Blacksocks SA one below seems to be a satire of race relations / slavery etc? "Don't know how black your socks are?" etc.. jobs, CV.
posted by mary8nne at 2:59 AM on April 20, 2015


Some people are making stupid products in a newly-emerging field? What-the-fuck-ever. This is just what happens when new possibilities for creating things emerge. The people who get there first are invariably the most blindly enthusiastic, and their sheer joy at the concept of what they're doing tends to keep them from making anything useful for people who live in actual reality. It's a known phenomenon.

Again, what-the-fuck-ever.

But wait, no, this is on MetaFilter, the site founded back before posting things on the Internet was popular or cool, whose early years were sort of an awful shitshow combining sexism, hideously bad comments, and a whole lot of jackassy negativity that makes today's jackassy negativity look like Yo Gabba Gabba! by comparison, and whose members have nonetheless seemingly all forgotten that this awesome community's origins look exactly like all the things we like to point at and be like "THIS IS PROOF THAT PEOPLE ARE THE WORST AND THAT SOCIETY'S GOING DOWNHILL AND UGH HOW ARE PEOPLE EVEN LIKE THAT??!!!???!!??" When I was thirteen, posting on the Internet made you one of the Horrible People Ruining Everything. Now it's taken for granted that middle schoolers each need to have a Tumblr; attitudes moved on. Shame we don't have the self-awareness to recognize that this pattern doesn't just happen with the One Thing We Like, it happens with all the other things too.

It's easier to buy a cheap buncha parts and connect a machine to a network than it's ever been before. Easy enough that people can do it and mass-market it, but not easy enough that we have, I dunno, five years of people trying to do this behind us for all the newcomers in the field to study How Not To Fuck Up. It'll probably take a lot less than five years, actually — tech moves fast these days. And it'll probably take a lot longer than five years for people to work out exactly what the appeal is to all these things, if they don't see it already.

Look. You're not going to find a bigger skeptic of technoutopians than me. The second one of these schmucks comes into power and decides to be a terrible person with it, I'll be right there waiting to leap up and call it out. But that's not where we are yet with this. We're at the "people doing silly things they think could be cool" phase, where all the marketing videos are awful because nobody involved is self-aware enough or savvy enough to depart from the default script. That's adorable! Look at all these would-be disruptors, look at them trying so earnestly to disrupt. They're justa buncha kids having fun. I'm friends with one of em — to my mind it's kind of ridiculous, but it's not like my hobbies or enthusiasms are any more worthwhile to the untrained eye.

But make no mistake — smart tech is going to be huge, and it's going to be huge for the same reason that windowed OSes replaced shell-only OSes on computers. For any given piece of functional technology, there're a handful of things which a person needs in order to operate that technology well, and then there are things which that person theoretically should never have to learn how to use, except that the technology isn't clever enough to exist without it.

VCRs are the go-to joke example of a piece of technology that feels like it ought to be very simple, considering the perceived simplicity of its task, yet which, thanks to the nature of analog media, is weirdly hard to design well. DVDs were more digital than tapes, and thus were often a lot easier to use, but digital media is even easier to handle than VCRs, and now that the entirety of "video" exists as sheer abstraction, the issues have mostly gone away, and new issues that emerge involve the sort of freaky sci-fi shit like streaming video that would've blown our minds a decade ago.

Video is a relatively "solvable" problem, though, as are books, music, and anything else whose physical form is merely a container for an abstraction anyway. Showers, cabinets, umbellas, sneakers, whatever? Less abstract. You actually need the physical form for the function to have any effect. Usually, what abstract components a device might benefit from are second- or third-tier features. The cost of adding digital components to them has made no sense, and been too high to implement anyway. I remember seeing, years ago, an umbrella whose base would light up if it was raining out, to let you know if it needed to be taken. Really simple idea, expensive as shit — unsurprisingly. A lot of effort for a benefit that, let's face it, isn't strictly necessary.

But as the price starts to drop, as the technology becomes easier to use, and as more and more "hub" devices (phones, watches, etc) become commonplace, you reach a point where this kind of thing makes no sense not to implement. The awesome thing about digital add-ons to a physical product is: if they suck, you still have the original product! "This escalator has temporarily become stairs: we apologize for the convenience." So for a little while you get products like these: silly little gimmicks that just can't wait to grow up. We might accidentally buy something with a smart feature, try it, get annoyed by it, and disregard it for a little while, because that feature's not why we bought the product in the first place.

Eventually, people'll figure out what makes these products valuable. My bet is, they'll figure it out quicky, because Apple's in the market and Apple is pretty good at getting its developers to be slightly less useless pieces of shit. And then you'll have smart technology doing the sorts of things that smart technology's always been good at, which is hiding the shit you don't need to see. Just like a word processor doesn't make you think about the mechanical processes behind a typewriter, none of which matter past the part where you used to have to understand them if you wanted to type words, there're a lot of things we spend time thinking about that we really definitely shouldn't have to, like if I'm rushing out the door it would be nice to not have to check a weather forecast to decide if I'll need an umbrella. I am a stupid human with logistical blindspots. My umbrella could take care of that task for me and I really wouldn't feel too coddled over it.

A tendency among curmudgeons is to insist that anything which they've ever put effort into in their life was significant and character-forming, even when those things served utterly no purpose other than busiwork. These days, curmudgeons start forming at the age of, like, twelve. For all that we have some fucked-up cultural notions regarding work and exhausting, we simultaneously exist in one of the greatest eras of potential leisure ever recorded (which, by the way, makes the horrible ways in which we treat members of our society stand out that much more by contrast — not looking away from that fact here). The one downside of this age of leisure has been its reliance on the computer, which until a decade ago was a big bulky machine, and the downside for the past decade has been that people don't stop looking at their goddamn phones.

Perhaps the best way to put it is that computers have done three things for us:

— They save us a whole lot of time doing certain things,
— give us a bunch of new things to waste our time doing, and
— distract us from doing a lot of the stuff we'd try out if we didn't have computers to distract us.

Not sure how true that is for people older than my own perpetually-connected generation, but for me and for people younger than myself, this feels like a decent encapsulation. I tend to be favorable towards points 1 and 2 above, though I get wary about 2; 3 spooks me out. It's important to recognize, however, that 2 and 3 exist as symptoms of one weirdly-paradoxical issue: the computer itself has not yet been abstracted. In a sense, the screen itself is the root of these problems: the thing you stare at, the thing you make your focus. We use these screens for things we shouldn't need a screen to do; we avoid those things which cannot be easily fused to a screen. It's such a definitive problem that Microsoft made waves a few years back by running ads touting Windows Phones as phones that you wouldn't have to look at — and it's such a pervasive issue that those ads failed to sell any Windows Phones, to anybody, ever.

"Smart things" aim to solve this problem by abstracting away both the computer and the unnecessary, unseen aspects of owning a device. Unseen? Well, yeah, because we don't really observe our own thought processes while we use things to see what we're thinking while we use them; whatever mental baggage these devices leave behind with us remains largely unexamined. We convince ourselves it's not a lot, and most of the time we're right, but if we use (say) a couple dozen things a day that could each be better at reducing that load, then the overall impact begins to look pretty damn dramatic. Minor changes can be extraordinarily potent, if they're the right minor changes — shit like gets shown off in these videos are likely not the ultimate answer, but also? I'd totally buy that the people who use thesee things like them a lot. The few smart products I've used have been pretty fucking awesome.

We're moving towards a golden era of leisure, in which people have less to think about than they ever have before, and more freedom to devote themselves to their own pursuits than ever either. Again, not hiding the fact that this coexists with a fairly damn oppressive society which uses leisure to convince people not to give a shit about their fellow citizens; I definitely think lethargy and apathy are problems which today's technology helps to fester, and I think it'll take an active effort to stop things from getting worse. But leisure and lethargy are not one and the same. Leisure might involve having the time to pursue a social or political cause; it will certainly involve being less fettered by the micro-interactions between people that digital media specializes in, and which are one of the major causes of this lethargy in my experience. My suspicion is that, ultimately, leisure is a potentially revolutionary force, in the sense that it frees us from compulsion and exhaustion (and I think that the extent to which our contemporary modes of "leisure" themselves rely on compulsion, they have somewhat failed us — there's a lot of that to go around in film and music and television and even literature). Technology obviously isn't the only component to enabling society to reach this state of leisure, but it's one of the major players, and it's shit like this that'll help more than anything.

Forgive me for, I dunno, not sneering at these obviously-stupid products which I'll admit are obviously stupid (and the marketing material disgusts the former advertising student in me, too). Snark and despair, I feel, are the typical expected reactions to this kind of thing. But instead, I look at this and I get excited — amidst the stupidity of it all is this sense that something genuinely new is coming, something extraordinary and amazing. Like, I look at technology like this, and all I can think about is its potential to change the way our society operates, the way culture functions. We are giving ourselves access to the building blocks of contemporary human existence, and it's becoming so goddamn easy to modify things as basic as fucking drawers and shelves and shit that these doofuses are able to do it. Just think of what'll happen when somebody smart comes along to take their places!

As a creative fellow who believes embarrassingly earnest things about the potential for creativity, I have never, ever ever seen anything brilliant get made without a whole lot of fucking up done beforehand. In cases like this, where you've got a literal entire new way of building and envisioning things to contend with, you're gonna get years if not decades of really stupid shit before The Big One comes along. Though you're also gonna get years and decades of people not really giving a shit, because even the incremental steps along the way will be tremendous enough to make us stop and go "Oh dogg that is SICK". Because callin' things sick is just a part of our better natures.

But it's frustrating to see the bandwagon of people sneering at technological and cultural transformation without stopping to think about why this transformation occurs the way that it does. The irony that that bandwagon itself is as much a byproduct of this transformational process is, of course, lost on its members. I mean, whatever, ultimately it'll matter exactly as much as the people caught up in this culture who're getting themselves sneered at, which is to say that a decade from now we'll all be encased in amber and hung up at a museum somewhere, for people of the future to perpetually misinterpret. In any event, I think this shit is all super-duper neat, and I intend to unabashedly drool at all this stuff as soon as I can get over laughing at how ridiculous every single part of it is.
posted by rorgy at 3:57 AM on April 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Mary8nne - nope. The blackness detector for socks is a real thing, as noted above. Intended for men who have many pairs of black business socks, identical in all but number of washes and thus degree of fading.
posted by gingerest at 4:01 AM on April 20, 2015


A great quite on here from rhymer back in 2010

"Much as I hate to piss on his future firework, this kind of thing totally ignores is that there are loads of things that don't really change because they don't need to. My kitchen looks quite nice and modern and the appliances are energy efficient, blah, blah, blah. But in terms of the basics and what they do (fridge, oven, stove, cupboards) most people from the 1960s would recognise it and be able to use it. For the same reason, although it's possible to have an intelligent house, most people are actually cool about turning the lights on and off with a wall switch when they enter a room."
posted by DanCall at 4:09 AM on April 20, 2015


I've no trouble picturing myself having a little chat with my toothbrush :

- I've… seen things you people wouldn't believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears… in… rain.

- So... I guess it's time to make an appointment to see my dentist for a check-up ?
posted by nicolin at 4:17 AM on April 20, 2015


We're moving towards a golden era of leisure

This chart shows a 4% drop in average annual hours worked between 2000 and 2013. At that rate your grandchildren's grandchildren's grandchildren's grandchildren might experience a golden era of leisure.
posted by IjonTichy at 4:48 AM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Looking forward to the Apple Smart Sock
posted by shakespeherian at 5:54 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


where are the condoms that tweet what your peen is thinking in real time
posted by poffin boffin at 6:33 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I seriously know people who do not know how to get places anymore without a smartphone.

Sure, but before smartphones, I had scraps of paper with directions and long annoying (annoying for them) conversations with my husband and my mom and gas station employees and still didn't necessarily get to where I wanted to go. It's not like apple maps made me dumber.
posted by artychoke at 6:35 AM on April 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


You can only authentically experience and enjoy life on earth if you use celestial navigation and an aged brass sextant.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:47 AM on April 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's not like apple maps made me dumber.

Of course not, but it seems to make large groups of people passive in the way they go places. I was on the interstate the other day and it inevitably came to a standstill. I let Google Maps find an alternate route for me and a mile later I was deposited onto a nearly empty 4-lane highway parallel to the interstate. I saw maybe 2 other cars every few miles. If only a fraction of people chose another route, it seems like it could have eased traffic on that interstate (not to mention reduced wear on already terrible roads). Is this a result of people relying mindlessly on their GPS? Are non-interstates that bad to most people?
posted by petri at 6:56 AM on April 20, 2015


Pre smartphone GPS, most people would have chosen the route they were already familiar with and/or the route with the thickest line on the map. So I don't think you'd get much leveling without GPSes.

However! A GPS app such as WAZE that suggests alternate routes based on real time traffic data does have the potential to do the kind of traffic management you propose. And for that kind of centralized management to work, users will have to trust their GPS wayfinders and rely on them, and not go scurrying about to find their own way.
posted by notyou at 7:04 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know if your grocery store has them, but out here in Chicago at Jewel-Osco they have little child-sized shopping carts which say SHOPPER IN TRAINING, a sentiment which depresses me in just the same way as the sort of enthusiastic & optimistic 'Surely Products will improve my life!' posture.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:05 AM on April 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I never wanted a smartphone until I moved to NYC, but here, pretty much every week I'm going somewhere I've never been before. The year I lived here and didn't have one, I made due with hand drawn maps on scraps of paper to get me from the train to my destination. It was doable, sure, but this is better...
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:21 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine what you would actually do with a watch-sized version of the same. And yet people, including you, are excited about them; so I am curious what use you imagine putting these little thumbnails of computronium to.

Dick Tracy Cosplay!
posted by troll on a pony at 7:26 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


happyroach, hmm, perhaps the fact that we're all lactose-intolerant at our house cuts down on the number of things we have that are likely to spoil and makes us an outlier.

Cheese takes a while to go bad and usually it gets moldy. Meat, you can smell. Fruit and vegetables are obvious about being spoiled. Grains have to be pretty old to go bad. I can't imagine needing a computer to track these things for me, unless I was running a food bank or restaurant or other place that stored lots of food for a long time. Then, it might be useful.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 AM on April 20, 2015


...they have little child-sized shopping carts which say SHOPPER IN TRAINING...

You didn't get handed a pair of sunglasses from a former pro wrestler before going shopping, did you?
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


We're moving towards a golden era of leisure

The Golden Era of Leisure (I think it's worth some capitalisation!) is still on the way? What a time to be alive, etc!

I'll be over here sipping exotic cocktails while enjoying fusion power that's too cheap to meter. Real Soon Now, in oldspeak.
posted by Wolof at 7:41 AM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


[gingerest]:The blackness detector for socks is a real thing, as noted above. Intended for men who have many pairs of black business socks, identical in all but number of washes and thus degree of fading.

Which is just absurd! - I always thought one of the greatest things about having 10+ pairs of exactly the same black sock was that I no longer needed to pair them at all! Seriously, how does it matter if you wear a sock that has been washed 15 times with another that has been washed 19 times? I don't even bother pairing my same socks.
posted by mary8nne at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don’t think you get to call your seat cushion smart if the thing it does is analyze butts.

Oh yeah? What if it uses a neural network . . . of butts? Because I'm planning an extensive API for my new product The Internet of Thongs. Video coming soon. [NSFW]
posted by The Bellman at 8:01 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


barchan: "
I would like my dog's shit to have a chip in it that sings a pleasant little melody so I know where to pick it up in the backyard.
"

ObSF: Gun, With Occasional Music
posted by Chrysostom at 8:03 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


track forgotten teeth

These are words that should be seen on a piece of paper given to you in a dream by a cat with the eyes of a man, not on a features list for an app.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


gingerest: “The blackness detector for socks is a real thing, as noted above. Intended for men who have many pairs of black business socks, identical in all but number of washes and thus degree of fading.”

mary8nne: “Which is just absurd! - I always thought one of the greatest things about having 10+ pairs of exactly the same black sock was that I no longer needed to pair them at all! Seriously, how does it matter if you wear a sock that has been washed 15 times with another that has been washed 19 times? I don't even bother pairing my same socks.”

My solution is sadly very low-tech, but seems to work fine: just buy 15 pairs of black socks at the same time, and only ever wash all of them all at once, and all of them will fade at exactly the same rate.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 AM on April 20, 2015


The cry in a large electronics company I worked in during the early 1980s was "But it doesn't NEED a Z80!".

Mostly, it didn't Mostly, it got one. Sometimes, it got two - and, oh, the fun we had inventing inter-processor communications in devices that did absolutely nothing which would benefit. "But it has MULTI-PROCESSOR capabilities!" we'd tell the client.

It's a slow process winnowing out the good ideas from the bad, and Sturgeon's Law applies without exception or mercy. And there are a lot of desperate companies out there who think - not always incorrectly - that enormous amounts of marketing can sell that which does not deserve to exist on intrinsic merit alone.

And a lot of stuff just gets built because it can. Videophones. Oh, so many videophones.

Yet good can come out of bad. Google Glass, like a great many forebears, was inherently pointless: it did nothing you wanted, let alone needed. The Mini AR driving glasses, though, make sense: augmented reality inside a car that lets you see through your bodywork, presents and controls navigation and safety information, and has a clear sense of purpose. And you can wear quite odd things in context when wearing them in general social situations wouldn't work.

So, let a thousand flowers bloom - but keep your Kickstarter dollar in your pocket... mostly.
posted by Devonian at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


We're moving towards a golden era of leisure

In which all of our drinks are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:34 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


My wife came up with a much better slogan for the smart umbrella: FORGET YOUR DUMBRELLA.

But surely the problem that needs solving is other people stealing your umbrella. Umbrellas need a chip so that they don't open unless they detect your thumbprint on the button. You know, a THUMBRELLA.
posted by straight at 8:42 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are lots of non-app stupid products too.
posted by PHINC at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


My solution is sadly very low-tech, but seems to work fine:

Here is another solution that works great: buy only extremely different socks. No chance of mixing up purple unicorns with yellow weenie dogs in sweaters or teal hipster cats! It's a plan that cannot possibly fail.
posted by phunniemee at 8:53 AM on April 20, 2015


Look. You're not going to find a bigger skeptic of technoutopians than me.

This is not true even a little bit
posted by Greg Nog at 8:54 AM on April 20, 2015 [21 favorites]


koeselitz: My solution is sadly very low-tech, but seems to work fine: just buy 15 pairs of black socks at the same time, and only ever wash all of them all at once, and all of them will fade at exactly the same rate.

My solution is to not worry about it, but maybe that's because when people are looking to pick at my outfits they'll weary of it before getting to my socks; too much material.

But if it matterd for me there are flaws in the 15-pair system; you end up washing socks that are clean (it's Sunday and today is the only day I can do laundry before my week-long trip on Wednesday and I only have five clean pairs). And your stock will reduce in time from holes and losing one behind the hamper (track forgotten sock) and having to take it out of rotation because it can't tell you how many times it has been washed. So eventually you'll have to throw away/demote say ten pairs of still-good socks and buy a whole new stable of fifteen. Now maybe these (and other) flaws aren't that big of a deal for you, and maybe it's still cheaper (right now) than getting smart socks (and the accessories). But for some people these will be a wonder invention.


I'm one of the people where a GPS (map websites before that, connected phone with GPS after) was a wonder invention; my glove compartment had note cards full of directions to places I went frequently and a coin for flipping when I got lost (this is only barely a joke).

And that Yahoo! Maps/dumb GPS/smartphone with GPS continuum hit different people at different times, and there are different sweet spots for different users.

I think it's fine to laugh at these products and I'm going to follow that tumblr, but I'm also prepared for the day it features something and my response is reaching for my credit card rather than laughter.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:18 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, but I still get to laugh at the wrist projector that has as one of the demonstrated uses someone whose phone is 10 feet away but doesn't want to get off the couch. Also somehow his finger doesn't leave a shadow every time he touches it, and it is projecting black because that is how they think light works.
posted by RobotHero at 9:49 AM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Your vacuum cleaner has left your service.

I didn't mean to pick that up!
posted by sidereal at 11:06 AM on April 20, 2015


Goddamnit. After reading through this thread I am desperately craving chips, but I'm sitting in a hotel whose minibar I have just ransacked and the only savoury snack is peanuts, which I hate. And it's Southern Germany at 10pm, so there is nothing open at all.
posted by lollusc at 12:33 PM on April 20, 2015


This video for the "house of the future" is probably my favorite.
posted by duffell at 1:46 PM on April 20, 2015


idiopath: "
"I don’t think you get to call your seat cushion smart if the thing it does is analyze butts."
I chuckled.
"

But what if you have a chip IN your butt? Does it make you a smart ass?
posted by Samizdata at 2:18 PM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


7segment: "
★ > Your couch likes your microwave's status update.
"

Your couch has left group "Samizdata's Living Room Furniture" because "They're all dicks. #hatredhatredhatred"
posted by Samizdata at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


★ ★ > @SamizFridge: Warning! Plums = 0
posted by Samizdata at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


DanCall: "most people are actually cool about turning the lights on and off with a wall switch when they enter a room.""

Obviously written by someone without kids.
posted by Mitheral at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2015


"The second one of these schmucks comes into power and decides to be a terrible person with it, I'll be right there waiting to leap up and call it out."

Rorgy- Are you ready to call out Travis Kalanick yet?
posted by TDIpod at 3:12 PM on April 20, 2015


Look. You're not going to find a bigger skeptic of technoutopians than me.

Given that you give this standard rant so often that it's become standard, I think I can find bigger skeptics of technouptopians than you.

It's possible that some of these people are the John and Horace Dodge of connected stuff, and that making this silly stuff is the equivalent of "working in a bike shop" around 1900. Still, I don't know if "put a chip in it" is really going to be a predecessor to new ways of interacting with computers, vs. R&D done at big organizations; I don't think you can really kickstart the CRT or the LCD screen, given the investments needed. You can add existing sensors and actuators to existing stuff, or build new combinations of sensors and actuators (e.g. the Oculus Rift), and that might get you somewhere, but developing new sensors and actuators isn't really suited to the kickstarter model.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:19 PM on April 20, 2015


Rorgy- Are you ready to call out Travis Kalanick yet?

Oh my god do not get me started on just how much I despise Uber. I flat-out refuse to take them, to the point of making people wait for slow-ass cabs with me if the option comes up. It is probably my least-favorite company ever. Also, as a general rule, I despise Silicon Valley, with like two exceptions. It just happens that I like talking about those two exceptions more than I like talking about the ones I dislike.

And, before you ask, I am a wretched bore at parties. Every MeFite here who has met me in person can confirm.
posted by rorgy at 4:06 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


The smart frying pan appears to have a recipe option for sushi, which is pretty amazing.
posted by maryr at 7:42 PM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


SMART SUSHI, IT NOT-COOKS ITSELF
posted by threeants at 7:52 PM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the Galetea Pearl might be a horcrux.
posted by maryr at 7:54 PM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you're a guy and people can see your black work socks, your pants are probably too short. Also my wife is unlikely to green light a smart fridge. I mean, she made fun of me just for buying pre-cut mixed fruit and pooh-poohed it as a product for "people with money to burn who don't know what they're doing in the kitchen".
posted by freecellwizard at 8:37 AM on April 21, 2015


"Sounds ghastly."
posted by entropicamericana at 11:09 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


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