Internet Enabled Kitchen

from the they're-coming... dept

People keep talking about the internet-enabled kitchen (though, these people can’t seem to find anyone who actually wants an internet enabled kitchen – but that’s another story) for a while. Now some appliances are starting to come on the market. The article here describes a refrigerator/PC combo from Samsung for a mere $9360 (I’m surprised they haven’t all been snapped up at such a price). They also discuss a Panasonic microwave oven that you can upload recipes to. I’m not exactly sure why you’d want your microwave to hold your recipes, but perhaps some people will want to pay a $1,000 for such a feature.

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Comments on “Internet Enabled Kitchen”

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Bill Kearney says:

Beware automation...

November 28
Moved in at last. Finally, we live in the smartest house in the neighborhood.
Everything’s networked. The cable TV is connected to our phone, which is
connected to my personal computer, which is connected to the power lines, all
the appliances and the security system. Everything runs off a universal remote
with the friendliest interface I’ve ever used. Programming is a snap. I’m,
like, totally wired.

November 30
Hot stuff! Programmed my VCR from the office, turned up the thermostat and
switched on the lights with the car phone, remotely tweaked the oven a few
degrees for my pizza. Everything nice and cozy when I arrived. Maybe I should
get the universal remote surgically attached.

December 3
Yesterday, the kitchen crashed. Freak event. As I opened the refrigerator
door, the light bulb blew. Immediately, everything else electrical shut down –
lights, microwave, coffee maker – everything. Carefully unplugged and
replugged all the appliances. Nothing. Called the cable company (but not from
the kitchen phone). They refer me to the utility. The utility insists the
problem was in the software. So the software company runs some remote
telediagnostics via my house processor. Their expert system claims it has to
be the utility’s fault. I don’t care, I just want my kitchen back. More phone
calls; more remote diagnostics. Turns out the problem was “unanticipated
failure mode” – the network had never seen a refrigerator bulb failure while
the door was open. So the fuzzy logic interpreted the burnout as a power surge
and shut down the entire kitchen. But because sensor memory confirmed that
there hadn’t actually been a power surge, the kitchen’s logic sequence was
confused so it couldn’t do a standard restart. The utility guy swears this
was the first time this has ever happened. Rebooting the kitchen took over an

December 7
The police are not happy. Our house keeps calling them for help. We
discover that whenever we play the TV or stereo above 25 decibels, it creates
patterns of micro-vibrations that get amplified when they hit the window. When
these vibrations mix with a gust of wind, the security sensors are actuated,
the police computer concludes that someone is trying to break in. Go figure.
Another glitch: Whenever the basement is in self-diagnostic mode, the
universal remote won’t let me change the channels on my TV. That means I
actually have to get up off the couch and change the channels by hand. The
software and the utility people say this flaw will be fixed in the next upgrade
– SmartHouse 2.1. But it’s not ready yet.

December 12
This is a nightmare. There’s a virus in the house. My personal computer
caught it while browsing on the public access network. I come home and the
living room is a sauna, the bedroom windows are covered with ice, the
refrigerator has defrosted, the washing machine has flooded the basement, the
garage door is cycling up and down, and the TV is stuck on the home shopping
channel. Throughout the house, lights flicker like stroboscopes until they
explode from the strain. Broken glass is everywhere. Or course, the security
sensors detect nothing. I look at a message slowly throbbing on my personal
computer screen:
“Welcome to HomeWrecker!!! Now the Fun Begins… (Be it ever so humble,
there’s no virus like HomeWrecker…)” I get out of the house. Fast.

December 18
They think they’ve digitally disinfected the house, but the place is a
shambles. Pipes have burst and we’re not completely sure we’ve got the part of
the virus that attacks toilets. Nevertheless, the Exorcists (as the anti-virus
SWAT members like to call themselves) are confident the worst is over.
“HomeWrecker is pretty bad,” one tells me, “but consider yourself lucky you
didn’t get PolterGeist. That one is really evil.”

December 19
Apparently, our house isn’t insured for viruses. “Fires and mudslides, yes,”
says the claims adjuster. “Viruses, no.” My agreement with the SmartHouse
people explicitly states that all claims and warranties are null and void if
appliance or computer in my house networks in any way, shape or form with a
noncertified on-line service. Everybody’s very, very sorry, but they can’t be
expected to anticipate every virus that might be created. We call our lawyer.
He laughs. He’s excited.

December 21
I get a call from a SmartHouse sales rep. As a special holiday offer, we get
the free opportunity to become a beta site for the company’s new SmartHouse 2.1
upgrade. He says I’ll be able to meet the programmers personally. “Sure,” I
tell him.

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