3 Videos of Ridiculous IoT Designs: Bikinis, Jars and Floss Dispensers
Shawn Wasserman posted on March 14, 2016 |

History does have a tendency to repeat itself when it comes to using new technologies in stupid ways. Just as humans started canning everything from peaches and jams to pearls and jewelry when that technology was discovered, the same is now true for applying the Internet of Things.

If you can think of a product that doesn’t need to be smart or connected, chances are someone has already made it smarter than they are. Here is a short list of some unnecessary connected devices to make engineers wonder who designed it in the first place.

Smart Bikini Says Turn Over, You’re Roasting

The smart bikini shown in this rather creepy ad will tell other people to slather you with sunscreen. (Image courtesy of TomoNews US).

The smart bikini shown in this rather creepy ad will tell other people to slather you with sunscreen. (Image courtesy of TomoNews US).

You know what is worse than an overpriced bikini that tells you to add sunscreen or turn over? An overpriced bikini that will nag your partner to put your sunscreen on for you.

I do have to hand it to Spinali Design and TOMO News: the only thing creepier than that nagging bikini that will tell others to put sunscreen on you while you sleep is the animation in this ad.

The smart bikini, perfect for your next trip to the Jersey Shore, comes with a removable tiny chip that monitors your sunlight exposure. This chip—which happens to be the perfect size for getting lost in the sand—will then send you a notice through an app to tell you that your roasting rump needs to be flipped or basted with sunscreen.

So instead of starting your phone’s free timer, you can spend $167 on a bill of material (BOM) that costs less than five bucks!

Neo’s Smart Jar: Because You Can’t See Mold Through Glass

Neo: because you can’t see the mold through the glass of your jars. (Image courtesy of Neo.)

Neo: because you can’t see the mold through the glass of your jars. (Image courtesy of Neo.)

Jars are quite a useful tool. They let us store and preserve almost anything, right in the comfort of our homes. And the best part is that we’ll never forget a jar’s contents or whether it’s gone bad because all we have to do is look through the glass or worst case, take a sniff.

Therefore, when Madhuri Eunni introduces her smart connected jars by saying “Jars haven’t changed that much from when they were first made,” we shouldn’t have been surprised. They haven’t needed to change.

If you can’t remember how long that food has been in there, then you should probably toss it. If you can’t recognize what is in there through the glass anymore, then you should definitely toss it.

Better yet, if you can’t remember what is in your pantry, just open the door and have a look. You don’t need the jars telling your phone what is in there.

This logic should have all come out in the initial design phase.

Now Neo’s Bluetooth-connected, sensor-enabled jars aren’t a total waste of time. They can remind you at the grocery store what you need, which I suppose works better than any other checklist on your phone.

Additionally, they can connect with calorie-counting apps to help you keep track of your intake, which I suppose works better than scanning a bar code.

But at the end of the day is it really worth it to go through your pantry once in a while to make sure your jars all have a charged battery?

Flosstime Provides a Better Visual Reminder to Floss than Floss?

Flosstime because a big round thing on your mirror is a better reminder to floss than the floss container on the counter? (image courtesy of Tech Branch.)

Flosstime because a big round thing on your mirror is a better reminder to floss than the floss container on the counter? (image courtesy of Tech Branch.)

Companies like Colgate never stop reminding us that about 80 percent of people don’t floss.

To combat this, Flosstime promises to be a better reminder for people to bring those threads between your teeth.

But realistically, how is a mirror-mounted floss dispenser going to be a better reminder than the packaging we see on the counter every day?

The truth is that many people see the dispenser. They just ignore it.

The truth is not a lot of people like flossing. They think it’s a chore because it cuts into finger joints and makes gums bleed. So who is this designed for?

No matter if the floss dispenser smiles at you, frowns at you, looks like a toy or gives you just the right amount at a push of a button, people still will choose not to do it.

Just because you can design something to be smart and connected doesn’t mean you should. Engineers should take the time to determine a product’s target audience and if the IoT technology will truly improve the product’s use. Are IoT “product improvements” going to add value? Is it going to be worth charging the product up every so often—or are users just going to stop using it, rendering the whole design process as pointless as some of these products?

For more IoT design stories follow @ENGcom_IoT on twitter.

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