When it comes to the internet of things, the future is already here.
In today’s connected world, it’s possible to watch your sleeping baby from half a world away, or for your smart thermostat to make sure you’re not wasting electricity when you’re at work.
Such products are big business. The Consumer Technology Association estimates that Americans will spend $1.3 billion on smart home devices this year, snapping up nearly 10 million products, 29 percent more than last year. Sales of wearable devices will reach almost 49 million, with revenues in that category increasing 60 percent from last year, to $2.2 billion.
Those numbers reflect growing demand from consumers. Half of consumers in North America polled last year by iControl Networks said that they’re excited about the possibilities of incorporating smart home features into their homes, with nearly 80 percent of millennials saying the same. The most popular products in that survey were self-adjusting thermostats, doors that can be locked remotely and lighting that adjusts automatically.
While those items seem fairly practical, there are some other new products that appear less so. After all, just because an item can be connected to the internet doesn’t mean it should be. Do we really need our forks to be online? Smart clothespins? Belts that send us texts about our moods? A critical look at many of the new releases over the past few years reveals some pretty questionable products.