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Internet of Things (IoT) and my Fridge/Toaster

By Aeryn / March 31, 2016 / 0 Comment

Or explain to me why my toaster isn’t connected yet.

I don’t know if that is necessarily true. The internet of things (IoT) is a concept that devices in our lives will be connected to the internet to provide us with a better life. Is such a thing possible? Is this something that, UX designers, we should be focused on?

Yes it is possible. Yes it is something we should be focused on.

But.

IoT has been on the outskirts of my perception for a great many years but I keep hearing more and more about it lately and how we have solved it or we’re getting close.

I think this is patently false. Every time something is released to the wanting masses about being the ‘thing’ that will redefine our lives in the face of IoT, we’re disappointed because it isn’t what it said it should be. I’m looking at you… smart watches, smart fridges, and smart toasters.

The problem as I see it, what problems are we solving? Now, here is the rub. We are solving a problem with the smart watch. We think we want a digital mini-computer on our wrist – go designers go! Who then solve this for this goal which is acceptable but as designers we need to do more than just that. Why do we want this? What are the expectations? And this is where I think the problem lies, we don’t know why we want this or what exactly we want.

But for the last 20 years we have had the concept of technology pushed down our throats as the key to the betterment of society, therefore having a smart toaster will make me and my bread so happy.

We’re asking the wrong questions with IoT, we’re solving the wrong problems, and everyone thinks it is a joke. Well maybe not that last one.

So what do we do?

We need to figure out how this technology will improve our lives. And work from that point. Instead we see a lot of ‘technology allows us to do x, so we’ll make this device with it. But we have designers working on this, so therefor ux.’

So we need to fundamentally rethink this problem, we need to find that area of our life which could be improved and work from there. My fridge doesn’t need twitter unless it has a sassy personality with which to talk about my overabundance of varying kinds of bbq sauces.

I saw a post about a ‘helmet’ with a transparent overlay and virtual object permanence but it didn’t change anything. It just used a desktop model. This is my point. It doesn’t solve for an issue, it is just an exploration of technology. I was told that keeps my job relevant. To which I have to say:

Ha, it probably does.

But I dream of better; of my peers, the world, or more importantly myself. Technology is the tool and not the destination.

You made mistakes with that Chipotle one – My fridge

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