One of the more unique products unveiled at CES is a piece of smart cutlery that will alert you when you are eating too fast. Marketed as a weight loss tool, the HAPIfork tracks your eating habits and can measure how long it takes you to eat, how many “fork servings” you take (how many times you put the fork in your mouth), and how much time you wait between fork servings while eating a meal. Using the HAPIfork app and online dashboard, users can can track their progress and gain further insight into their personal eating schedules.
Why settle for a traditional light bulb when you can create a personalized lighting scheme from your smartphone or tablet? New Hue LED lightbulbs are able to connect to your home’s wireless network and can create custom lighting palettes from the colours in your favourite photos.
As technology progresses, the futuristic lifestyle portrayed on the children’s cartoon show The Jetsons doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. We have smartphones to make communicating easier, smart cars to make driving easier and artificially intelligent personal assistants to make our lives easier. The next frontier? Smart homes.
The Nest thermostat, the brainchild of iPod creator Tony Fadell, sold out instantly when it went on sale. Just like your current thermostat, only better: it’s sleek, significantly reduces your energy consumption and is able to program itself to adapt to your changing routine. You can even control it from afar through web and mobile apps.
At the 2012 CES show, LG unveiled its line of Smart ThinQ appliances, including a fridge that can tell you exactly what food is inside and when it will expire through its food management system.
Then there are the two MIT Media Lab graduates who created a gadget called Twine that can essentially make any object in your house able to tweet, email and text. The 2.5”, Wi-Fi-enabled square is packed with internal and external sensors that can detect temperature, motion, moisture and magnetism (more to come). Through a web app, users can set up their Twine to respond to language-based rules such as WHEN the doorbell rings THEN text “You have a visitor!”
If Twine hasn’t peaked your interest you could always get a Karotz, the intelligent Internet companion. This smart rabbit has voice-recognition software and can tweet, check your email, play music, take pictures, search the web and read RFID tags.
I think it’s fair to say that the future is going to be filled with all sorts of these cool toys. But I wonder what the big picture will look like. Will we be more efficient? Yes. But I’m not quite sold that we’ll be enjoying life more.
I can see the appeal of this convenient and minimalistic future, but at the same time I find it a little creepy. It’s one thing for a user to control their household remotely, it’s another for the household to seemingly come alive and take on a persona of its own. Digital should be used to enhance my life, not to live it for me. So for the future, I’m going to proceed with caution.