Smart Alec Appliances

IN a story I cannot pretend to understand, I read this week that a fridge has been sending out spam messages. If it had been sending messages about Spam, that pink luncheon meat much beloved in the war, it would have made more sense to me.

But, no, it seems all kinds of equipment can be programmed to send out email messages, as long as they are “smart” gadgets i.e. can connect to the internet.

This malware that sends out malicious emails can be installed by a hacker on kitchen appliances, routers, media systems and televisions. Don’t worry, it’s all done remotely – no spotty geek with minimal social skills and a personal hygiene problem will be dropping by your house with a screwdriver and laptop.

But it’s a growing problem, made easy for the spammers because there are so few safeguards on many “smart” gadgets.

It could come in handy, though. Perhaps your fridge could email you at work to say you are running short of yak ’s milk and ask you to pick up some more on the way home. Or it could warn you your cheese is developing a nice blue, furry sheen and it is time you dumped it. Or it could harangue you when you put in some sugar-laden confectionery with dire warnings about looking like the side of a house.

I mentioned all this to the better half. He looked at me as if I had crawled out from under a stone in the Jurrasic Era and told me this was already happening.

What? A quick trawl of the internet showed me he was right. Some smart refrigerators are able to detect the type of items stored in it and keep track of important details such as expiry and usage.

I was quite taken with this and was hoping other household appliances worked in a similar way.

Wouldn’t it be great if your iron could start up a friendly conversation with your husband? That would have come in very handy in my house. The better half once phoned me at work to ask where we kept the iron. I took great delight in telling him it was in exactly the same place it had been for the last 25 years. If he could have shouted, "Where are you, iron?"  and the iron replied, “I’m in the hall cupboard!” it would have been a great help.

Not that I want my kitchen appliances developing too much of a mind of their own. I don’t want my Dyson dissing my vacuuming skills and reminding me to move the sofa to clean underneath or my cooker laughing at my lack of baking expertise, or my microwave admonishing me, "What? Another ready meal?"

I think I'll stick with my "unsmart" appliances after all.

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  1. Laughed about your husband trying to find the iron. Men are so oblivious to things like that.

    The idea of having a smart refrigerator has no appeal to me. I don't need an appliance to boss me around and tell me what to buy or throw out.

  2. I will stick with my dumb ones too :)

  3. You and me both. I don't need lectures from my appliances.

  4. I wouldn't mind if the fridge could tell me where my wife puts stuff instead of her reaching in, grabbing the item and then give me "That Look!"

  5. It isn't only appliances that can be hacked. "Smart" toys are also being hacked and sending messages to children, asking them questions about their homes and families. Truly scary stuff. No smart items will ever make their way into my home.

  6. But if all the appliances can communicate, and you get a "smart" home (with some sort of computer interface), you might have a way to get all the chores done for you. Wouldn't that be cool?

  7. I don't like the idea of these appliances at all. The fact our thermostat has Internet connectivity bothers me sometimes. ~shakes head~ Hacking is such a huge issue. Be well, and thank you for the laughs.

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