Industry 4.0 is bringing us plenty of IoT devices that are improving the lives of their users in previously unimaginable ways. But, as with every industry, there are some products that just miss the point entirely.
Ransomware infections such as Boeing‘s WannaCry scare in March might have you questioning whether or not your Internet of Things (IoT) devices are actually worth it.
If a hacker can hijack your smart locks, are they really the best or safest option? Often times, these IoT versions of everyday objects can come at immense cost, too.
So here I’ve done the hard work for you. Out of the most popular or upcoming IoT devices, I’ve compiled a list of the five IoT devices that are just not worth your money.
#1. Skip the “Smart Trash can”
Bruno proudly claims to be the world’s first “smartcan” or “smart trash can” — congratulations Bruno.
Bruno comes with an iPhone or Android companion app that lets you track bag usage. It also sends alerts for when it’s time to take out the trash. As seen in the promotional image above, you also get bag purchase reminders.
These all seem like unnecessary features in most people’s everyday life.
But, it does come with some useful features like a hands free lid and an integrated vacuum inlet. That means that you can sweep things underneath the trash can and it vacuums them up.
Simplehuman debuted a trash can with Wi-Fi and voice commands last year, as well.
While these might be valuable for certain lifestyles, the only thing a trash can really needs is a lid and a bottom that stops all that garbage juice from leaking out on your floor — that’s it.
#2. Do you Really Need an IoT Toaster?
If you are a bagel lover such as myself, you might think that a smart toaster is a great idea. But really, it’s just another novelty amid smart devices that actually improve life.
When I first saw this, I had to verify it wasn’t some elaborate hoax or prank. In fact, the production company, Griffin Technologies, doesn’t list the product on their website.
At any rate, Griffin debuted the “Griffin Connected Toaster” at CES 2017.
Before, Griffin Technologies made smartphone accessories like chargers and phone cases. Their toaster promised more control of your toast and sends you notifications when your chosen food is perfectly toasted.
It also (of course) comes with a companion app and, for some reason, Bluetooth radio. All of this for just $100 USD.
But, confusingly, this isn’t the only smart toaster in development. Toasteroid funded their Kickstarter in September 2016. Nearly 2,000 people donated around $200,000 to their KickStarter, so it’s safe to say they had plenty of funding for their project.
However, the last update for Toasteroid was October 2017 – I think it might be safe to say that project burnt out.
As CNET pointed out last year, a rotary dial on your average toaster “remembers your preferences” just fine. Although it might be cool to get live updates on how crunchy your bagel is, a normal toaster does just fine.
#3. Smart Light Switches are Hit or Miss
There has been a big conversation around smart switches vs smart lights lately.
Smart switches connect to Wi-Fi and come with enabled voice commands and app control. They offer more light control and sometimes feature extra sensors. Generally, you can pick one up for around $50.
They certainly provide simplicity in a more automated world. They are also integral in many smart home functions for elderly or disabled people.
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But, they still have network vulnerabilities given their connection options. That means that ransomware could potentially take over your entire house’s lights. Waking up to a hacker testing their light show skills in your bedroom wouldn’t be great.
Smart switches are not alone in this quagmire. Due to their connection methods, smart light bulbs remain susceptible to these same issues, as well.
Smart lights and switches are an interesting idea. Although they’re definitely a fun addition to your home for the first week or two, in a lot of cases a regular light switch would work just fine.
#4. Wifi Enabled Garage Door Openers
This one, much like the smart switch, seems like a fantastic idea at first. Truthfully, in a more cybersecure world, this would be a must-have gadget.
But in our current world where Mirai Botnet variants keep infecting IoT devices, it’s a risk.
Regular wireless controllers are not really the issue here though; it’s the “smart” garage door openers that pose the threat.
Smart openers use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections which is standard for most IoT devices. Of course, a 12-year old showed us just how vulnerable these connections are.
Despite their vulnerabilities, most major companies like Samsung and Apple have their versions of smart garage openers.
Just like smart lightbulbs, this is definitely a great way to make your house feel like a 21st century home. However, there is a limit to how much a garage door opener should do. Anyway, is saving three seconds opening your garage really worth risking a burglary?
#5. Smart Door Locks
You had to know this didn’t make the cut of “IoT devices you need”. For the reasons stated previously, smart locks post huge risks.
A hacker could simply gain access to your Wi-Fi and unlock all your locks with one button.
Besides, regular physical locks work just fine. However, for the intrepid early adopter, you can find a list of some of the best smart locks here.
All five of these devices have one thing in common – they try to replace something that does not need internet connectivity, Bluetooth, or sometimes even a battery. Sometimes, the simple solution is best.