Technology

Whatever happened to those dumb smart products we wrote about in 2017?

Almost anything you buy these days can be loaded with sensors, LEDs, and Wi-Fi, and then labeled “smart.” Light bulbs? Check. Door locks? Yep. Sprinklers? Of course.

But as manufacturers rush to “smartify” everything, we wonder if all these new inventions are really necessary. We get bombarded with pitches for dubious smart gadgets all day long, but some of them truly make us question the trajectory of technology. We published this list of some of the dumbest smart technology in 2017, but thought it would be a good idea to check in two years later to see if the products still exist or have died due to their dumbness. Here’s what we found out.

The Smalt Salt Dispenser

smalt smart salt dispenser herb and body 2

Ever reach for the salt at the dinner table and think to yourself, “Hmmm, how will I know the right amount of salt to put on my steak? What if I pour too much? Too little? If only I had something to guide me through this process.”

Yeah, us neither.

But if you do need help with your salt intake, or have ever wished you had an app on your phone to automatically dispense salt, you might want to check out the Smalt salt dispenser, which is available for pre-order through Indiegogo. The Amazon Alexa-connected shaker can be set to pour, shake, or pinch. It can also help people with high blood pressure monitor their salt intake via an app for Android or iOS.

Not yet convinced this product is for you? Maybe this will seal the deal: it’s not just a salt shaker – it’s also a Bluetooth speaker and features mood lighting, eliminating the need to light those annoyingly messy and antiquated candles at the dinner table.

Update: As of March 14, 2019, Smalt has only raised $9,426 of it’s goal of $25,000, which tells us that we’re not the only ones who think this product is too dumb for its own good.

Porkfolio the piggybank

10 stupid home smart gadgets porkfolio feat

This smart piggy bank makes our list based on the name alone. Genius! The Porkfolio is, fittingly, a smart piggybank that allows you to keep track of the money you put into it. With the app, you can help your kiddos set financial goals and get notifications alerting them when the piggy bank is on the move. It comes in three colors and retails on Amazon for $25.

Update: Porkfolio is still around, but doesn’t appear to be widely available anymore. You can still grab it from Amazon through some third-party sellers, although inventory seems light. Maybe all the existing Porkfolios are hiding under beds?

The Quirky Egg Minder

egg minder smart tray lets you remotely check the freshness of your eggs quirky phone

You’re at the store and you can’t remember how many eggs are in your fridge. Or, you’re staring at the eggs in the fridge, wondering if they’re still OK to eat – you don’t want to get salmonella, after all. Don’t panic! The Quirky Egg Minder is an egg tray that connects to your phone to tell you how many eggs you have in the tray, and how long the eggs have been sitting on it.

While Quirky filed for bankruptcy in 2015, the Egg Minder lives on and is currently available on Amazon for $10 – a bargain compared to other products on this list.

The ratings on Amazon are dismal at 2.5 out of 5 stars, but the Egg Minder also has gained a bit of cult status and is celebrated for being, well, quirky. Reviewer W. Giant notes in his five-star Amazon review that “we can check on our eggs from the john, or the back of a police car, or even from in the emergency room, because those warning signs to turn off all cell phones are just stupid. The Egg minder will set all of our hearts and minds at ease. Our dreams of a more peaceful world are at hand. Thank you Egg Minder. Thank you.”

Update: Good news! For all of you concerned about the status of your eggs, this product is still readily available on Amazon. Even if you aren’t interested in buying this product, do yourself a favor and read the questions and reviews. They’re hilarious.

Belty the Smart Belt

10 stupid home smart gadgets beltly feature shot

So your belt only holds up your pants? Sucker! You could be using Belty, a belt that also charges your cell phone via a USB port on the bottom of the belt buckle. It works with Android and iOS and is made of leather. Grooves apparently hold your belt in place so no belt holes are needed.

We have to admit that it is an attractive belt that could come in handy when our cell battery is at 12 percent at the airport. But at $157 a pop, we could also just throw on a regular $25 belt, put a phone charger in our pocket or bag, and call it a day.

Update: Belty is alive and well, thanks to … well … we don’t know who is buying these things. But if you’re interested, you’re in luck, as there are various types available, all for over $100.

The Smart Water Bottle

hidrateme smart water bottle kickstarter news hidrate 1

Do we really need a water bottle to remind us to drink from it? Doesn’t our body provide us that information directly through, let’s say, thirst? Or a dry mouth? Or lack of urine?

Well, the manufacturers of smart water bottles apparently think our bodies aren’t doing a good enough job of alerting us of our hydration needs. Several have hit the market over the past few years, including the Trago, BluFit, and Hidrate Spark.

These bottles connect to an app and tell us how much water we’re drinking and how much we should be drinking, depending on age, outside temperature, and other factors. Some even glow to indicate when we need to drink more water.

While the smart water bottle industry is expected to increase by 15 percent over the next few years, we aren’t convinced these products fall under “necessary” in the smart category. Is it really that hard to gauge your body’s hydration level or count how many glasses of water you drank without the help of technology? We think not.

Update: It appears that of the three smart water bottles we mentioned above, only Hidrate has gained traction in the marketplace. You can buy it on Amazon for $45 (please note that a regular drinking glass is much cheaper). We acknowledge that these things are rather popular, but we still think they don’t fall under the definition of “must have” tech.

Smartduvet, the self making bed

SMARTDUVET-BREEZE-bed-in-a-room
Smartduvet Breeze

We’re pretty sure this product was featured on an episode of The Jetsons. The Smartduvet is a self-making bed that also has built-in dual climate-control technology, making it weird and awesome at the same time. Weird because, well, what if the duvet malfunctions and starts making itself while you’re still in your bed? It’s almost like the bed is putting a move on you. Or worse, trying to suffocate you.

The awesome aspect of the Smartduvet is the climate-control technology, because it’s a rule in life that the person you share a bed with has the exact opposite preferences for hot and cool sleep settings.

But again, do you really need a self-making duvet cover? Is it really that difficult to simply pull your duvet over your bed? Come. On.

Update: The Smartduvet may not be as dumb as we initially thought. When we first wrote about them in 2017, the twin-size version was on pre-order for $199. Twins now cost $279 and look much nicer. The climate-control technology seems to have been fine-tuned and doesn’t look as creepy as we thought. But the jury is still out on whether this product will catch on.

The Smart Garbage Can

cleaning gadgets 2017 home and housewares show bruno smart trash can
Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends
Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends

Why have a dumb, old garbage can when you can have a smart one? Products like the GeniCan and Bruno are taking the act of throwing away garbage to a whole new level.

The GeniCan is a device that you hang on the side of your garbage can. As you throw away empty containers of, say, juice, you can scan the bar code on the item, and the device automatically adds juice to your shopping list on a corresponding app. The $150 device also notifies you when the garbage is full and can send an “empty garbage” reminder to you, your spouse, child, neighbor, worst enemy, or whoever you want. Nifty.

You can have a garbage can and a vacuum with Bruno, which promises to do both. Don’t be fooled though — this isn’t a roving garbage can. Instead, this vacuum/garbage can sucks up the debris you sweep under it. You can also connect to an app to get reminders when it’s low on bags or full of trash. Pre-order now for $199. Or don’t. Either way, you’ll survive.

Update: While these devices are still available on their respective websites, both are still in pre-order mode almost two years after we wrote about them. We don’t see these products catching on anytime soon.

Flatev tortilla maker

There are machines that distribute coffee, juice, and even wine with the touch of a button. Apparently, now there’s a machine that does the same with tortillas.

Using various-flavored dough pods, Flatev is a device that can make you a tortilla in just a couple of minutes. Put the pod in the machine, push a button, and boom — instant tortilla!

No word on when it will be available, but you can learn more on Kickstarter if you’re so inclined. We’re going to stick with those same old packages of tortillas that cost us a few bucks at the grocery store.

Update: Well, then. It looks like this product isn’t going to happen, and even worse, the creators of the product don’t seem to be responding to backers. After checking in on Kickstarter, we learned that the company has stopped responding to backers’ questions and hasn’t updated them about shipping or availability. The last update came from the creators in August 2018, and many backers are asking for their money back. We’ll do a more thorough report on this and get back to you.

Bluetooth Smart Fork

best kitchen gadgets gbest hapilabs hapifork
Hapilabs Hapifork

The Hapifork smart fork isn’t going to steer you away from that cake in the break room. But it will tell you to chew the cake more slowly, or maybe avoid a second slice. The Bluetooth-enabled utensil tracks how often you eat, how long it takes you to eat, and how much time has passed in between eating.

Gorging on that cake like Cookie Monster? The Hapifork will vibrate and blink. The idea is that you can track your eating and then use the data to change habits. There are some flaws to the product, though. For example, the fork doesn’t know if you’ve just gorged on a plate of cookies. Or if you used a fork from the drawer rather than your smart fork.

The device has been around for a few years and sells for $50 to $60 on Amazon depending on the color and retailer.

Update: We’re sorry to tell you that it looks like Hapifork is dead. It’s not available on Amazon, and when you click on the Hapifork website, there does not appear to be a way to buy the product. We honestly can’t say that we’re surprised. 

Smart Umbrella

10 stupid home smart gadgets umbrella here feat 2

Yes, you read that right. A smart umbrella —  not the dumb kind that you leave in the back seat of an Uber.

Umbrella Here has a light on top. As you would with a taxi, turn on the light to indicate that you’re willing to take a “passenger” under your umbrella. Others caught in a downpour see the light and know that you’re willing to share your umbrella. You’ll be an instant friend or instant weirdo, depending on who joins you.

Umbrella Here comes with — you guessed it — an app that, among other things, lets you keep in touch with those you’ve shared your umbrella with. You can log in, add the date and time of the share, and then add that person as a friend. The two of you can continue your conversation about the day you frolicked in the rain together.

Update: It appears that this product is no longer available. We guess people decided that they don’t like sharing their umbrellas after all, especially with weird strangers.


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