Smart technology certainly has come a long way. No longer are we merely living in the realm of smartphones, but a whole host of common household objects have developed “smart” capabilities. We’ve got smart refrigerators, smart lightbulbs, smart plugs, and of course, smart speakers like Alexa.
But on some occasions, perhaps innovation has gone a bit too far. Not every item needs to be smart, does it? While some developments make complete sense, enabling greater efficiency and control in our everyday lives, some devices with smart capabilities seem wholly unnecessary.
Some of the smart devices that have appeared in recent years are not only surprising, but also downright unusual. Let’s take a look at some of the strangest “smart” devices ever invented.
The Smart Toaster
The Toasteroid does more than just brown your morning toast.
While there are other smart toasters that perform useful functions like remembering your favourite settings or alert your mobile when your toast is ready, the Toasteroid takes toast one step further.
This toaster will print any design onto your slice of bread. Just pick what you want, pop in the bread, and get ready for breakfast fun! Controlled from an app, you can choose what gets printed on your toast: a fun graphic, the weather report, or even send a message to a friend, known as a “toastage.” Of course, your friend will need to have the Toasteroid at home, too.
Sounds cool, but also like a lot of extra work in the mornings.
The Weight Loss Headband
It seems we’re always looking for new, quick ways to lose weight and get fit. It was only a matter of time before the Internet of Things jumped on the weight loss bandwagon.
There are many mobile apps that can help you track your nutrition and exercise, and which have proven fairly effective for those looking to improve their health. But now, there’s an actual weight loss headband.
This smart device is called the Modius headband, and it works by stimulating your vestibular nerve for an hour each day. Using a “safe electrical pulse” to stimulate this nerve, the Modius headband can purportedly reduce your cravings, help your body burn fat more efficiently, and suppress your appetite. The related app tracks your progress, so you can see how the headband is working for you. While this smart device could be an amazing fast-track to weight loss, it seems more probable that it’s just a headache-inducing gimmick.
The Smart Fork
For those who like to slurp their noodles loudly when dining in public, the Otohiko fork might be perfect for you. This is a battery-powered smart fork that is capable of detecting the slurping sound commonly made while eating ramen or other noodles. When such a noise is detected, the fork transfers a signal to the related smartphone app, and an audio sound is emitted which essentially “masks” the slurping sound.
Necessary? Probably not.
We can think of a few reasons that smart thongs could be useful. Maybe they would track your steps during long walks, or perhaps they could assess your stride, ensuring better walking form. But one pair of smart thongs that came about had a smart feature that was basically useless.
The Hari Mari shoe brand created a line of thongs which were fairly aesthetically pleasing, but their claim to be “smart thongs” made them more interesting (and certainly more expensive). Unfortunately, the point of the smart abilities was quite singular: to bring Hari Mari more sales.
The thongs contained a sensor that would engage with an app on the customer’s smartphone. The app would send them news and updates about the shoe company’s latest deals and products. Perhaps a “smart” marketing approach, but a smart device? Not so much.
Pet owners know that it’s helpful to be able to check on your animals when you’re away from home. The Furbo is a device that allows you to do that. But it’s not just like your typical connected home camera. The Furbo not only allows you to talk to your pet via a two-way radio, but it will also notify you when your pet is barking, and let you expel a dog treat for your pooch at the press of a smartphone button.
Admittedly, this smart device is quirky but cute.
Perhaps the oddest of the “smart” devices on our list is the Smarttress. While it’s dubious whether or not this item exists (or ever will exist), a couple of years ago mattress maker Durmet announced their unique new product.
The Smarttress is a smart mattress. But instead of helping you find your perfect sleep temperature or providing the ideal level of firmness and support, it actually serves a very different purpose.
Outfitted with motion and vibration sensors embedded in its springs, the Smarttress alerts your smartphone when your bed is in motion. In other words, it will let you know if your partner just might be cheating on you. They call this the “Lover Detection System.” On your smartphone, you’ll be able to receive detailed reports of the motion on the mattress, including speed and pressure points.
Okay, who thought this invention was a good idea?
The Smart Egg Tray
Apparently checking the eggs in your refrigerator is pretty difficult. Enter the Quirky Egg Minder, which tracks your egg stash without you ever having to open the fridge door again!
The Quirky Egg Minder is a smart tray that holds your eggs. Synched up with your smartphone, you can receive notifications when your egg supply is running low. If you do happen to be looking in your refrigerator, the tray will illuminate beneath any eggs that are getting close to their expiration date.
This smart gadget might not be for everyone. Still….it exists!
The Smart Toilet
Here is something you never thought you’d need: a smart toilet.
Smart toilets have actually been around for a bit, but the latest, made by Kohler takes bathroom luxury to the next level. This is called the Numi, and it offers an array of features, including a heated seat (never sit on a cold toilet again!), a motion-activated cover (the toilet is open before you arrive), deodorising filter, and Bluetooth speakers, among other elements. A pop-out bidet and foot warmer complete the ensemble.
The smart toilet will set you back approximately $7,500, a price at which you could probably buy a lot of regular toilets.
The Smart, Breathing Pillow
Here’s an unusual smart device that could actually prove quite useful for some.
Sleep problems are common across the world. Chances are fairly good that you occasionally have trouble falling asleep, lying awake with anxiety in the nighttime hours. Or perhaps you wake repeatedly through the night.
The Somnox robotic pillow could be the smart solution you need. The soft, elongated pillow fits snugly under your arm as you lay in bed, providing much-needed nighttime comfort. But it is the smart features that make the Somnox so interesting.
The robotic pillow helps soothe you on your way to dreamland. The robot “breathes” at a slow pace. As you hold it against your body, your own breathing syncs up with this slow pattern, helping to lower your blood pressure and heart rate and lull you into a state of relaxation. At the same time, it can also play relaxing sounds, such as lullabies or other tunes, white noise, or a guided meditation.
This is one smart gadget that sounds cosy and effective.
A Smart Umbrella...You Can Share with Strangers
An umbrella that helps you avoid misplacing it? That we can get behind.
But this type of smart umbrella is a little...different.
Umbrella Here is a smart umbrella that comes with an attached light set on top of it. When it’s raining (and you’re using your umbrella), you can switch that light on. This indicates to others that 1) you’ve got an umbrella and 2) you’re willing to share it!
Nearby umbrella-less folks can choose to come and share your umbrella with you, keeping everyone dry and happy. The gadget comes with an app, too, which lets you connect with those you’ve shared your umbrella with. You can add them as a friend on the app and keep in touch if you feel so inclined. We can’t decide if this invention is a brilliant way to make friends or a super creepy way to interact with strangers.
The Smart Salt Shaker
Because getting the right amount of salt is very, very difficult.
The Smalt salt dispenser allows you to pinch, shake, or pour out salt, all via your smartphone. It can also be altered manually if you desire a more authentic salt shaker experience.
While this smart gadget might be useful for those looking to monitor their sodium intake, such as those who suffer from high blood pressure, we can’t help but feel this item is a bit superfluous.
However, it does have a few fun extra features that might help. It doubles not only as a salt shaker but as a Bluetooth speaker, so you can pump out your favourite tunes during mealtimes, and turn on its lights to set a lovely atmosphere.
The Smart Toothbrush
There have been lots of smart toothbrushes hitting the market of late. This is probably a good thing, as many of us don’t brush as well as our dentists would like.
Well, now you can bring your dentist home with you, especially with some of these high-tech smart toothbrushes.
The Prophix is a $400 toothbrush that is equipped with a 10-MP live camera. This allows you to actually see your teeth and mouth as you brush (via your smartphone). While few of us probably want up close and personal images of our mouths, there’s no doubt this item could motivate and encourage you to step up your oral hygiene.
The Smart Hairbrush
Just when you thought they couldn’t get any weirder, along came the smart hairbrush.
The Kérastase Hair Coach is built to help users care for their hair in the best way possible. The brush has complex in-built sensors track hair quality and brushing patterns. These include elements such as an accelerometer and a gyroscope, which track brush strokes and speed and can warn the user if the strokes are too rough or fast. There is also a microphone that interprets hair-related sounds to determine issues with breakage, frizziness, and general manageability. This data is then analysed within the connected mobile app and provides users with guidance on optimal hair care.
A Smart Dog Collar that Can Track Your Dog’s Mood
Last but not least is a smart dog collar that is geared towards monitoring your canine’s emotional state.
The smart tracker attaches to your dog’s collar and tracks hunger, thirst, sleep, stress, and pain through various sensors. It’s pretty sophisticated. The company partnered with veterinarians and other dog experts to come up with a “dog behaviour interpretation smart engine.” Via the connected app, you can be alerted when any unusual behaviour has been detected.
There are also special modes for various scenarios, including a Guest Mode that monitors differences in behaviour when your dog is at the kennel and Away Mode, which tracks your dog’s stats when you’re not at home.
While definitely an unusual item, it’s quite possible that this smart gadget could prove very useful for some dog owners out there.