Thursday, July 30, 2020

“Smart” appliances, meet the smart aleck

DUCK, N.C. – This oven has convinced me that the Luddites were on to something.

To review that historical reference you can’t look up because your cell phone is down to 3 percent,

Calling someone a Luddite today is a put down. It means the person is opposed to technology and, in general, change and progress. That’s not me. I’ve never longed for the days of manual typewriters or using paper road maps. But while I’m not old-fashioned, I do abhor technology that makes me want to drown in Old Fashioneds because it is unnecessarily complex. Or just simply unnecessary.

That brings me to this oven.

Our family ventured to North Carolina’s Outer Banks this week to ready the rental (and eventual retirement) house we are having built. The place is about 95 percent finished so it’s completely habitable if you don’t mind painters appearing outside your bedroom window at 6 a.m.

Shortly after arriving and being briefly trapped between floors in the elevator (I could have survived in for days because I was bringing up the groceries and beer), I heard the call of “we’re starrrrrrrrrrviiiiing” from our kids. My wife had purchased a couple of supermarket-made pizzas just for that situation.

So I turned on the electric oven. So I thought.

Ten minutes later, despite the full-color, HD touchscreen showing roaring flames, the oven remained at room temperature.

It remained that way for an hour. This despite my manhandling every conceivable option on the touchscreen, reading the user manual (online, mind you) and hollering every combination of cuss words I knew along with a few I found on Google.

Confounded, we went to the tavern down the street to eat (them) and wallow (me).

I returned a while later determined as well as internally lubricated. After another hour of virtual button pushing and IRL swearing, I found the issue.

I hadn’t connected my oven to the internet.

Appliance and household goods manufacturers these days operate under the premise that people are perpetually connected to the internet. Why not link consumers directly to their products by making them internet-enabled, aka “smart”?

Well, that’s just dumb. And when you can’t do something that not long ago only required a turn of

I fully believe some smart items have practical applications. For a rental home owner like me, smart thermostats can alert you to vacationers ratcheting the AC down to 58 degrees so you, 500 miles away, can use an app to thwart their costly shenanigans. But does anyone really need to turn on the washing machine when not standing in front of it? Maybe if a tap on my iPhone could get my front loader to also gather, sort and load the clothes for me.

Sure, it’s cool you can own a $3,000 refrigerator with internal cameras so, while you are standing in the supermarket freezer section, you can double check on whether someone has polished off the Chunky Monkey. But “cool” doesn’t always equate to efficient, productive or easy to use be it this oven, a car or a home entertainment system with 628 sound options you’ll never use.

Smart technology also comes with a price: not only to purchase but the inevitable cost to repair and upgrade because it’s bad for a manufacturer’s future growth if your Bluetooth-enabled fork (look it up!) doesn’t eventually become obsolete. And, yes, I AM looking squarely at you, Apple.

Meanwhile, it’s been four days since my managing to finally turn on the oven. I even managed to cook those pizzas the other night. They still took 17 minutes to cook, tasted like seasoned yet cheesy cardboard, and burned the roof of my mouth. Now that smarts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

REMEMBER: You're at your sexiest when you comment.


My Uncool Past