Unnecessary digitalization of household appliances

The digitalization of our everyday life in the past couple of decades is a consequence of the massive technological development. While many “gadgets” that humanity invented make sense and do benefit our daily tasks, the desire to make every possible household item “smarter” is in my opinion completely unnecessary.

The Internet of things or “Smart household items” as the industry likes to call them started to appear at the break of the 20th and 21st century when internet technology was slowly getting more accessible to the wider public. The first internet-connected appliance was invented at Carnegie Mellon University, where they made a smart Coca Cola vending machine. It was able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold or not. The idea was born, improved, and spread around in the following decades. [3]

The Internet of things could be divided into consumer, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure technology. While I can understand the reason and the benefit of the internet of things in said categories, the consumer part presents more problems than benefits. But for some reason, the consumers would like to use the interconnectivity with every single thing that surrounds them, even if it doesn’t make any sense. And of course, where there’s demand there’s money and therefore more and more standard household items started to become “smarter”. The research shows that the number of household items that could be connected to the internet will drastically increase in the following years. [1]

(Figure 1: Each second 127 new devices connect to the internet) [2]

We have to realize that circuits/parts that enable connectivity include precious materials that and being excavated deep beneath the earth’s soil and are for the past couple of decades impacting our environment in the worst way possible.

We also have to ask ourselves if we really need all that, especially from the consumer perspective? Does your coffee machine need to have a built-in clock with timer functions? Does it have to be connected with your oven that can access hundreds of different recipes online? Do all of the shutters and lights in your house have to be connected in an app that enables you to control them wirelessly? The technology made us lazy and spoiled and it seems like we are prepared to sacrifice our planet for our own desire of ultimate comfort. [4]


[1] Jennifer Gabrys, “Re-thingifying the Internet of Things,” Sustainable Media: Critical Approaches to Media and Environment, eds. Nicole Starosielski and Janet Walker, New York and London, Routledge, 2016: 180 – 195.

[2] & Figure 1.: CPA Canada – Mathieu De Lajartre, 2019, Infographic: The Internet of Things (IoT) is a booming business, Last modified February 13, 2019, https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/news/world/2019-02-13-internet-of-things-infographic

[3] Wikipedia, 2020, Internet of Things, Last modified October 4, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_things

[4] PCMag, 2020, The Best Smart Home Devices for 2020, Last modified August 27, 2020, https://uk.pcmag.com/smart-home/85/the-best-smart-home-devices-for-2020