If you've been feeling a bit smug about your ability to order toilet paper through your new Alexa, know that Bill Gates' $123 million smart home has a system set up to make sure his favorite maple tree is automatically watered, should it get a little dry. You both live in a smart house, his is just slightly more optimized. And a smidge bigger.
Smart appliances are all the rage. There are smart fridges, smart dishwashers, and smart toilets. The latest wifi-enabled product to hit the market is Tasty's blue-tooth cooking stove, but where will it end? Below are a few items that you may not have thought about upgrading...
When Your Smart Home Is Too Smart
Smart Dining Table
Suffering through a dull dinner party? Not to worry! The Smart Dining Table has embedded microscopic cameras with facial-recognition software to identify guests, trawl the internet and social media platforms for information about them, and prompt the host to initiate lively conversation topics, such as their recent vacation to Hawaii, an elaborate restaurant meal they just enjoyed, or any open-record criminal offenses.
The Smart Scale harnesses biometric sensors to identify users based on toe prints. It stores historical weight data, and, after displaying the results, makes small talk about anything but weight. Conversational bon mots include "My, you look healthy," "What I love about you is your spirit," and "Soul Cycle is a cult," said in a posh British accent.
It can be exhausting to get up and open and close your window. With a press of your phone’s volume buttons, the Smart Window lowers or raises it at your whim. And if you want fresh air but don’t feel like walking all the way over to the window, a drone captures some in a vacuum-sealed container, flies it over to you, and releases it near your nostrils. The Smart Window comes with two visual aesthetics: night and day, which are regrettably locked into factory settings.
(Warning: the Smart Window is not responsible for any drone damage to home or face.)
Your recliner chair can be preprogrammed through your phone to the angle preferences of all its different users, from dad to grandpa to Uncle Bill. Perfect for when one of those men just needs to lean back, close his eyes, and escape from the family on Thanksgiving Day.
Smart Coat Rack
Finding your coat on a crowded rack can be a real hassle. That’s why the Smart Coat Rack swivels upon sensing your presence, then proffers the garment with an extendable arm and helps you into it. For children, the arm places the coat on the floor, inverted, so the user can employ the upside-down method of putting it on over his head. Should the user fail to cloak themselves inside two minutes, a computerized voice warns, "Children who lie on the floor don't get to watch Apple TV."
Expedited coat delivery PLUS a parenting assist? Sign us up! (Made by the same manufacturer behind the Smart Scale.)
The problem: your teenage son who has just discovered ’90s gangster movies steeped in machismo is spending all his allowance on new posters every week.
The solution: the Smart Poster switches its screen hourly from Reservoir Dogs to Goodfellas to Pulp Fiction and many other films that glorify violence and disparage sensitivity. Now your son can fully conform to binary gender expectations for a fraction of the price. (The Smartposter retails for $399.99, with a $17.99 monthly subscription.)
When flowers are placed in the vase, the software analyzes digital communications between the giver and the recipient and announces a phrase pertinent to the situation, such as “My, what beautiful tulips — thank you!” (on a third date), “These are wilted — didn’t you look them over first?” (for a twenty-third anniversary), or “You think a bunch of cheap roses makes up for what you did with Sharon?” (after it has been discovered that the giver had an affair with Sharon).
Attached to the Smart Landline phone is an iPad so you can simultaneously talk and browse the internet, because just talking to another person is boring.
All hail the smart home.
Teddy Wayne is the author of Loner, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, and Kapitoil, and writes the Future Tense column for the New York Times.