What happens when everyone suddenly has a smartphone and a wireless network? Appliance companies start making the same old things they used to -- but with wireless capability and smartphone access.
Seems preposterous? It can be. From the "smart" washing machine to the "smart" yoga mat, companies are coming up with new and interesting ways to make you pay $200 more for the same old crap you always had -- but now you can control it with your iPad!
Here are five of the dumbest-sounding "smart" devices we've come across:
1. Smart LED Light Bulb.
The Philips Hue light bulb was the 2012 Forbes Product of the Year, for some reason. Sure, it's an LED light bulb, but the light can change colors! And how do you get it to do that? With your phone! It can dim at certain times of the day or come on automatically. All that for the low, low price of $200 for a three-pack! But really, you'd pay anything to turn your house into a European discotheque.
2. Wi-Fi Enabled Coffee Maker.
Because the programmable coffee maker just wasn't good enough, Mr. Coffee released a wireless coffee maker with companion app so you can control your coffee maker with your phone. In fact, you can set up remote access so you can even make coffee from work! In addition to paying too much for a coffee maker, you have no control over the things you'd actually want to control, like the water temperature or the coffee strength.
3. Smart Washing Machine.
We've seen this movie before, back when the Internet-connected refrigerator promised to herald a new frontier for connected appliances. Except they didn't really work that well and nobody cared. Now comes the "smart" washing machine which, for the low, low price of $1,700, will notify you when your laundry is done. Put this nugget from a Whirlpool executive on the list for "understatement of the year": "Trying to understand exactly the value proposition that you provide to the consumer has been a little bit of a challenge."
4. Egg Minder Wink App-Enabled Smart Egg Tray.
Have you ever been at work, and then panicked over whether you had eggs at home? Those days are over, thanks to this $22 egg tray that communicates with a smartphone app to answer just one question: How many eggs do you have? If you don't know the answer to that question, you can be anxious all day.
5. LG Appliances That Can Chat With You.
If you thought the prior four devices were too useful, then wait until LG's new smart appliances hit the market. With built-in natural language functionality, you can actually text your appliances to do things like start the washing machine or go into vacation mode.
OK, this one actually seems useful. If you forgot to turn off the oven, you can just text the oven to turn off. We're one step closer to either the "Star Trek" computer or HAL 9000. ("I'm sorry, Dave. Knitted sweaters can't be dried on permanent press.")