Is Your Fridge Too Smart?

Jack Ballard, Contributing Writer

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Do you think you really need a fridge that can play Spotify? Everything we use today seems to be getting some sort of “smart version.” Fridges become smart fridges, dishwashers become smart dishwashers, and yes, even toilets become smart toilets. Everything is becoming smarter, but do we really need it?
It all started with smartphones. When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone back in 2007, it changed everything. It put everything you needed into the palm of your hand. After that, smartphones exploded in popularity. Now, everyone has a smartphone. Naturally, some companies want to capitalize on this market of people. So they made things more integrated with smart devices. That way, everything can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. But as those companies kept going, they realized that they could just slap a screen onto anything, call it smart, and then sell it for twice the price. And so they did, and now we have things like a Bluetooth toaster and a pair of flip-flops that connect to an app on your phone.
The companies that make these products tell you that having their “smart thing” will improve the way you interact with everything around you. But in the end, connecting your smartphone to your toaster doesn’t really help you out much. In fact, it could actually end up doing more harm than good.
These smart devices, along with the things that connect to them, are all part of “The Internet of things,”. The idea of the Internet of things is to extend the internet’s reach into everyday items, like your TV. When you connect something to the Internet of things, you allow it to communicate with other devices and be remotely controlled. An example of this would be using Amazon’s Alexa or a Google Home to turn on the lights, turn on the TV, and then play a specific show on Netflix with just one command. While this can seem convenient, it also exposes you to the threat of hackers and malware. If someone hacks into this system, they could have access to personal information from your phone and everything connected to it, which might include your house, your tv, everything that your Alexa/Google Home hears, and yes, even your smart flip flops.
What it really comes down to is moderation. It’s ok to connect some things to the internet. It can make your life easier and more efficient. That being said, there is a point where it goes too far. At that point, you are only exposing yourself to hackers.