In today's incredible Internet of
Stuff Things world, the fridge is going to tell us we need to restock it with more milk and butter. What bunch of nutters thought this idea up?
Let's take a patient walk through what a fridge would have to do to accomplish this, and then ask why it would be better than a fridge user's scan every time the fridge door is opened – and whether a regular weekly food shopper would want it, if we even get that far.
Step 1: a mobile phone or tablet alert tells you that you need to buy more butter, milk and cheese. This might be an automatic addition to a tablet-hosted shopping list, but the deal is the same – the end-point device gets an alert of some kind.
Okay: what device sends it? The smart fridge, of course.
Terrific. How does it know it needs topping up? No, really. How does the fridge know it's running out of milk, butter and cheese? These things are just cartons or plastic bags with stuff inside them. How does a freakin' fridge know what's inside them? Is it supposed to have some form of food item pattern recognition capability that can also detect actual amounts of solid or fluid foodstuffs?
Obviously not. So ... come on, keep up at the back ... the foodstuff packaging has to be smart and monitor the package's contents. Your milk carton now needs an Internet of Things transmitter that sends out a message saying: "I am a pint of skimmed milk," and then, as the milk is consumed: "I am a half pint of milk" and, "I am an empty carton of milk," and then you throw it away.
Yeah, right, that system would be far too wasteful, even if you built a hugely expensive recycling facility to recover the chip.
Back to the fridge. Does the fridge receive the milk carton chip's message? If it does then how does it know what it is? There's an Internet of Things protocol, of course, that the smart fridge and milk carton are compliant with. The home food shopper's tablet or smartphone is also compliant with a domestic Internet of Things foodstuffs and devices protocol and responds to the alert it gets.
There's more. To make this workable every item in the fridge has to have smart packaging with a chip in it; the lettuce in the salad drawer, the lamb joint in the freezer, the frozen peas, the six pack of beer. Why stop there; the tins of food in the pantry, the spice jars, the jams, the pickles... whatever.
So who is going to pay for all this?
Before we disappear in spirals up our own fundament, let's go back to the milk carton with the chip. How does it know it's getting empty? Does it weigh itself, or does it do something fancy like compute the volume of air and liquid inside itself? Come on, really. What about the frozen peas, the packet of sausages, the container of butter, the bottle of cooled white wine?
Get real, folks. This smart Internet of Things fridge is the fruit of fatuous engineers' fantasies, moronic imaginings by marketing droids, bilge, dross, rubbish, a Powerpoint slide deck pipe dream.
So why stop with food? We could have scent dispensers in the home responding to aroma detection systems and sending out puffs of perfume to combat flatulence in the comfort station and lavatories across the nation: an Internet of stinky things, if you will...
No, really, stop it... there's real work to be done. ®