At CES, Even The Refrigerators Are Absurd

One of the biggest themes at the Consumer Electronics Show this year is "smart" stuff.

That pretty much means taking a regular everyday object, connecting it to the Web, and claiming it'll make your life better.

For hardware like TVs, it makes sense. It's nice to have a television that can connect to streaming services like Netflix or download video games. 

But for more common items, like the stuff in your kitchen, it feels a bit odd.

That hasn't stopped companies like LG and Samsung from trying. Along with mobile devices and TVs, both of these South Korea-based companies make appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers.

This year, there's a bigger emphasis on connecting appliances to the web so you can control them from your smartphone or computer. Need to see what you can make for dinner? Ask your fridge for advice using Epicurious, an app for discovering recipes. Want to see how much time is left in your laundry cycle? Check your smartphone. Samsung's fridge even has an Evernote app so you can leave notes for your family members.

You get the idea.

Looking at these gadgets is a lot like watching an episode of "The Jetsons" where everything is automated, where George doesn't even have to brush his own teeth in the morning. It's comically unrealistic.

Right now, all these smart appliances feel gimmicky and it doesn't seem like adding apps to normal household items is the answer making our homes truly smart.

There are companies working on making the Smart Home a reality, and their approach makes much more sense.

Take Nest for example, the thermostat that learns your habits over time and adjusts your home's temperature based on when you're around. You can control Nest remotely with a smartphone, but the real magic is that it's smart enough to work well on its own.

Two other companies called Electric Imp and Smart Things are working on similar concepts to bring web-connected autonomy to all household gadgets.

If the "Smart Home" is going to take off, it's not going to be because someone figured out how to put Angry Birds on a dishwasher. It's going to be because someone figured out how to make your stuff work better and know what you want without you having to tell it to do so.



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