13 votes

What technology is going to "come home" in the future?

In one of the gardening threads a while back, somebody described their aerogarden: an off-the-shelf, all-in-one hydroponics system to grow herbs/greens at home. It made me wonder whether having a food-growing appliance could become common in the homes of the future, even for people with no interest or expertise in gardening/*ponics.
This got me thinking about other technology which has, over time, switched from a centralised facility to something that people commonly have at home*.

For a few examples:

  • Laundry, once done by hand at home, then done as a service provided by a local launderette, now individual households often have their own washing machines.
  • Communal baths were / are a thing in some cultures, but now we have individual baths at home.
  • People used to go to internet cafes and libraries to use a computer and access the internet. Now we have computers and internet at home.

So what do you think?
Will the future see technology-assisted home-grown food become widespread and 'normal'?

What other things do you think we'll be doing at home which we currently rely on a centralised facility for?

Home energy generation with solar panels on rooves? At-home sewage treatment?

From an environmental point of view, is this sort of thing generally a good thing, in that it saves transporting stuff around? Or is it an unsustainable luxury, in that doing things at scale is usually more efficient?

* I'm looking at this from the perspective of a western country, because that's where I live, but I'd be interested to hear about other parts of the world where things we consider 'normal' aren't so common, or where different things are considered home essentials.

51 comments

  1. [15]
    mrbig
    Link
    I think 30 years from now 3D printing will replace a lot of visits to shops and house calls for specialized repairs. Some might say this will help even sooner, bit I'm talking about worldwide...

    I think 30 years from now 3D printing will replace a lot of visits to shops and house calls for specialized repairs.

    Some might say this will help even sooner, bit I'm talking about worldwide adoption, not just techies with disposable income (I'm in Brazil -- 3D printing is still very much for the "rich").

    16 votes
    1. [10]
      skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Having played around with 3D printing a little last year, I think it’s more likely that there will be businesses that will ship you custom parts when needed, or you can pick them up at the shop....

      Having played around with 3D printing a little last year, I think it’s more likely that there will be businesses that will ship you custom parts when needed, or you can pick them up at the shop. So the way we buy things wouldn’t change much but specialized parts would be easier to get.

      You might think that it would be faster to print the part yourself, but 3D printing is very slow, taking hours for a print job, and if you screw it up you have to do it again. (For example, the piece you’re printing might detach from the plate.) It’s not something you would want in an apartment since it makes noise, and for most materials there are noxious odors. (The most beginner-friendly plastic is PLA because it’s in theory biodegradable and doesn’t smell bad, but that’s a tradeoff since it degrades in sunlight.) We put ours in the garage, which isn’t ideal because temperature changes will affect the results.

      For a replacement part, you might as well have someone else make it. The delivery (or pick up) wouldn’t take much more time, and a business could spend more on fancier printers that use different techniques and materials. Their printers will pay for themselves faster since they’re not sitting idle most of the time.

      If it’s not a part that’s already designed, design time is going to be even longer than print time, and you will likely not get it quite right the first time. There is a learning curve and someone with experience will do a better job. Designers of custom parts will want to be close to a print shop. (I’m reminded of how in the SF Bay Area, I often see Asian restaurants in the same shopping plaza as an Asian grocery. They’re not the same businesses, but It seems pretty convenient for everyone?)

      You might compare with regular printers. Despite being a very mature technology, people struggle with printers all the time and complain about them quite a bit. If you buy an inkjet, it is likely that the ink will dry up before you use it all. It’s worthwhile if you print stuff regularly, but for occasional use, you might as well go to a copy shop.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an interesting hobby, and some hobbyists might eventually make money printing stuff for others. I just don’t see it being worthwhile for everyone to have their own when you can share.

      7 votes
      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I see your point. But take "30 years from now" into account. That's enough time for radical change. I wasn't really referring to present time. I also never said this would be for everyone, I...

        I see your point. But take "30 years from now" into account. That's enough time for radical change.

        I wasn't really referring to present time.

        I also never said this would be for everyone, I merely used the expression "a lot" ;)

        5 votes
      2. [4]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        You should also mention that printed parts are not as strong as machined or moulded parts; SLA printers can print things fairly fast, but the resins they use tend to be more brittle than most...

        You should also mention that printed parts are not as strong as machined or moulded parts; SLA printers can print things fairly fast, but the resins they use tend to be more brittle than most plastics. FDM printers can use stronger plastics, but they are very weak along one dimensional axis and printing them solid will take exponentially longer than a hollow print.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Yeah. For this reason I just can’t see home 3D printing being viable. What I do see being viable is micro-manufacturing creating space for small businesses to generate parts on a smaller scale...

          Yeah. For this reason I just can’t see home 3D printing being viable. What I do see being viable is micro-manufacturing creating space for small businesses to generate parts on a smaller scale than is done now. Instead of needing a large factory to produce things at scale, you can have smaller shops catering to needs on a local level. They’d have just enough scale to be able to use heavier duty equipment and combine it with certain things that need more skilled tradesmen, like welding or machining, to make more things and serve more complex needs than printed plastic can serve.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            joplin
            Link Parent
            Do you see the possibility that the way 3D printing works could change significantly in the next 30 years or so? Or is that unlikely for some fundamental reason? When I first started handing in...

            For this reason I just can’t see home 3D printing being viable.

            Do you see the possibility that the way 3D printing works could change significantly in the next 30 years or so? Or is that unlikely for some fundamental reason?

            When I first started handing in school papers I wrote on my computer, they were printed on a dot matrix printer. Most people wouldn't have wanted one because they were slow, noisy, and required a big spool of specialized paper with perforated edges. 30 years later, you usually didn't have to send anything to a print shop anymore because you could laser print it yourself at 300 dpi and it was indistinguishable from what your print shop would produce. With ink jet printers you could even get color printing and eventually full-quality photo printing. 20 years after that, we've moved a lot more print stuff onto the web so it doesn't even need to be printed.

            So maybe in 30 years 3D printing will be viable because it will use some different type of mechanism that isn't noisy or slow, and the materials will be something different that isn't smelly or noxious or temperature sensitive? Or maybe it won't — I really don't know anything about it, but am just thinking about how other similar technologies have evolved in that time frame.

            3 votes
            1. NaraVara
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Materials science mostly. There's only so much you can do with shaped plastic alone. Most things we use are either more complicated, require assembly in addition to having formed parts, or require...

              Do you see the possibility that the way 3D printing works could change significantly in the next 30 years or so? Or is that unlikely for some fundamental reason?

              Materials science mostly. There's only so much you can do with shaped plastic alone. Most things we use are either more complicated, require assembly in addition to having formed parts, or require a mix of materials. You can get as good as you want at the actual printing directly, but I can't see much domestic/household use for most of what it does without some additional expertise in how to use it and do the supplemental assembly work. It's the same way people could technically do woodworking at home too, but it's actually quite hard to learn the requisite skills to do it at a high level, and the power tools are expensive and take up a ton of space. Plus there's the concern around non-biodegradable plastic waste if you have a bunch of amateurs going through making baubles without any idea what they're doing.

              Printers are a good example actually. It's almost a cliche how much people hate their household printers. They only reason they have them is because there's critical bureaucratic functions that printers can provide and people often need them in a hurry. But despite that people are increasingly foregoing owning home printers to print out of their offices. The damn things jam constantly and are difficult to user repair if you buy cheaper models, and the ink is so finnicky and expensive to replace that they functionally have surprisingly high upkeep costs.

              1 vote
      3. [4]
        spctrvl
        Link Parent
        Have you tried PETG filament? It's a little trickier to work with than PLA in my experience, but otherwise, it's sort of best of both worlds between PLA and ABS, being more resilient than the...

        Have you tried PETG filament? It's a little trickier to work with than PLA in my experience, but otherwise, it's sort of best of both worlds between PLA and ABS, being more resilient than the former, but easier to work with and lacking the fumes of the latter.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          Akir
          Link Parent
          PETG has been a nightmare for me. I can't get it to stick to the bed even when it's heated to 80C. I've only been able to print things with flat bottoms, and even then I can't print more than one...

          PETG has been a nightmare for me. I can't get it to stick to the bed even when it's heated to 80C. I've only been able to print things with flat bottoms, and even then I can't print more than one object at a time.

          1 vote
          1. spctrvl
            Link Parent
            So the trick to getting bed adhesion with PETG is to give it a bigger gap than you ordinarily would, and disable fans for the first three to five layers. Hairspray is also recommended,...

            So the trick to getting bed adhesion with PETG is to give it a bigger gap than you ordinarily would, and disable fans for the first three to five layers. Hairspray is also recommended, particularly if you've got a glass bed, because once you get your settings dialed in, PETG occasionally has a problem of adhering too well and ripping up chunks of the print bed; the hairspray gives it something else to fuse to.

            3 votes
        2. skybrian
          Link Parent
          Not yet. I’ve barely gotten started, and haven’t printed anything in a while.

          Not yet. I’ve barely gotten started, and haven’t printed anything in a while.

    2. [3]
      Rez
      Link Parent
      I think the timeline of this may depend less on the technology and more around our practices. E.g. not being able to replace a car part either because the part is digitized (as everything becomes...

      I think the timeline of this may depend less on the technology and more around our practices. E.g. not being able to replace a car part either because the part is digitized (as everything becomes chipped/digitized/"smart" in some way) or because the system will detect and reject it as a non-validated part.

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        joplin
        Link Parent
        Sadly, I could see that happening, too. But who knows? It could end up like DVDs where once one person cracks it, it's freely available if you know where to look! If 3D printing could print a...

        E.g. not being able to replace a car part either because the part is digitized (as everything becomes chipped/digitized/"smart" in some way) or because the system will detect and reject it as a non-validated part.

        Sadly, I could see that happening, too. But who knows? It could end up like DVDs where once one person cracks it, it's freely available if you know where to look! If 3D printing could print a circuit board in the future, maybe that's not so far fetched?

        1 vote
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          At one time people would make their own circuit boards, and you can still do it the old fashioned way, but you have to work with nasty chemicals and the results are much cruder than you can get...

          At one time people would make their own circuit boards, and you can still do it the old fashioned way, but you have to work with nasty chemicals and the results are much cruder than you can get very cheaply by sending your design to a manufacturing house. It takes a few weeks, so there are attempts to improve on this with circuit board printing machines, but they are often expensive and still have limitations. And they only do one thing.

          For a replacement part, it’s very unlikely that the circuit board would be designed so you can print your own, or even include the design files needed to have the circuit board manufactured. Very seldom is hardware “open source” in this way, unless it’s explicitly targeted at hobbyists who care about such things.

          And that’s just the circuit board. You still need the components to solder onto it, and these parts are getting smaller and more difficult to solder by hand. Manufacturing chips is the domain of incredibly expensive fabs. So, no, for existing devices that have electronics in them (and this is increasingly common) you aren’t going to be able to 3d print the circuit board.

          Possibly, we might see new devices with relatively simple circuitry that are specifically designed to be 3d printed on some future 3d printer. They would likely use common parts that you could buy at a hardware store. This would be quite different from hitting a “print” and getting a device though. It would be more like getting a bunch of parts that you put together yourself.

          The 3d printer I bought last year is specifically designed to be assembled by customers and customizable by replacing parts. Some parts are 3d printed and others are standard parts you can order. It took about three days to put together. The directions are excellent but we still made mistakes and had to backtrack when we missed something.

          Besides 3d printing, there is a lot to be said for standardization. We don’t make or own nuts and bolts. Instead we go to a hardware store. I can imagine there being cheap, standard, general-purpose circuit boards, maybe with an FPGA on them, that get used in a lot of different devices.

          You can sort of get that from electronics suppliers that cater to hobbyists like AdaFruit, SparkFun and Teensy, but prices are high enough that nobody is going to use their stuff for volume manufacturing. Maybe that could change, though?

          1 vote
    3. Tardigrade
      Link Parent
      Yeah cause I do these sorts of things currently but it definitely requires the time and patience and training. I'll design and print bits to repair things like monitors stands, radiator keys, and...

      Yeah cause I do these sorts of things currently but it definitely requires the time and patience and training. I'll design and print bits to repair things like monitors stands, radiator keys, and boardgames. With greater databases of models which will only happen over time with places like thingiverse and printers becoming cheaper from tech development and popularity it'll slowly happen. I can see them having all the issues normal printers have with finickityness but worse though.

      3 votes
  2. [4]
    Adys
    Link
    Voting, eventually, I suspect. Medical consultations as well. I think with the 2020 boom it's pretty obvious now, too. Telemedicine is doing really well and hugely reduces load overall by getting...

    Voting, eventually, I suspect.

    Medical consultations as well. I think with the 2020 boom it's pretty obvious now, too. Telemedicine is doing really well and hugely reduces load overall by getting rid of travel requirements for the small stuff.

    I also suspect we'll see more and more physical sports playable at home, thanks to a variety of technologies (VR, AR, or even just using common phone sensors or whatever other device everyone has access to). I'm not necessarily thinking existing sports, but rather the creation of new sports that make the most of the limitations/form factors of those devices.

    12 votes
    1. frostycakes
      Link Parent
      Come to Colorado, Oregon, Washington, or Utah (if you're in the US), we've been doing the voting from home for a while now. It's hard to imagine not being able to vote in my PJs with my laptop so...

      Voting, eventually, I suspect.

      Come to Colorado, Oregon, Washington, or Utah (if you're in the US), we've been doing the voting from home for a while now. It's hard to imagine not being able to vote in my PJs with my laptop so I can look up candidates and measures as I go along the ballot. You could check and see if your area does no-excuse absentee voting as well so you can get on this voting from home future train.

      12 votes
    2. [2]
      DonQuixote
      Link Parent
      This is a really good idea, is anyone pursuing the area of new physical sports like this?

      This is a really good idea, is anyone pursuing the area of new physical sports like this?

      2 votes
      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        Did I ever talk about Beat Saber? :D

        Did I ever talk about Beat Saber? :D

        3 votes
  3. [20]
    Thrabalen
    Link
    I hope it's within my lifetime, but I'm positive that lab-grown meat will be a home appliance.

    I hope it's within my lifetime, but I'm positive that lab-grown meat will be a home appliance.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Why that instead of a grocery store? Most people don’t make their own yogurt. I’m reminded of how even making sandwiches is a big business these days, and grocery stores often sell sandwiches that...

      Why that instead of a grocery store? Most people don’t make their own yogurt.

      I’m reminded of how even making sandwiches is a big business these days, and grocery stores often sell sandwiches that were made offsite, even though they could make it for you, or you could buy ingredients and make your own.

      8 votes
      1. [2]
        Thrabalen
        Link Parent
        It's going to be like gardening. It won't be in every home, but some people will want their own "blend."

        It's going to be like gardening. It won't be in every home, but some people will want their own "blend."

        4 votes
        1. Staross
          Link Parent
          Unlike other home bio-techs, cell culture requires sterile conditions, because you're growing defenseless mammalian cells and not a bacteria or yeast that can outcompete wild species. In theory...

          Unlike other home bio-techs, cell culture requires sterile conditions, because you're growing defenseless mammalian cells and not a bacteria or yeast that can outcompete wild species. In theory you can do it under a flame but it's gonna be very tricky either way.

          1 vote
    2. [3]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      That's still my favorite "closer than we think" technology. The prospect of essentially ending killing animals for meat is exciting and feels very much like boring future tech. "Wait, you actually...

      That's still my favorite "closer than we think" technology. The prospect of essentially ending killing animals for meat is exciting and feels very much like boring future tech. "Wait, you actually held animals just to kill them in farms, grandpa?"

      Edit: Just read the op's actual question (the bold part) and I guess it's kinda off-topic since it will still be done in facilities outside your own home. That reminds me, though: I think we might be done with what can actually be done at home pretty soon. Especially since corona, I legit can't think of a reason to leave the house other than "I should probably leave the house to not turn insane".

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        I am not optimistic that this will happen without animal slaughtering for food being outlawed. And I’m not optimistic that many countries will do that.

        The prospect of essentially ending killing animals for meat is exciting and feels very much like boring future tech. "Wait, you actually held animals just to kill them in farms, grandpa?"

        I am not optimistic that this will happen without animal slaughtering for food being outlawed. And I’m not optimistic that many countries will do that.

        1. nothis
          Link Parent
          I'm mostly talking about scale and trends, here, not an immediate ban. I assume it will continue to be costly and will first happen in richer countries, as an option. I can already see the hissy...

          I'm mostly talking about scale and trends, here, not an immediate ban. I assume it will continue to be costly and will first happen in richer countries, as an option. I can already see the hissy fit by "gourmet" types who claim that real meat just tastes so much nicer (even though I don't think that should be the case as the lab grown technique matures) and "fight" for the right to slaughter real animals. I imagine France will make some headlines in that regard.

          Honestly, it's one of my favorite future tech scenarios, it's the first time I feel like I can predict something big happen 10+ years away that isn't horrible. I should probably also put my money where my mouth is and invest in some artificial meat stocks. One of them could blow up.

          3 votes
    3. [13]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      It will have to be cheaper than real meat and just as tasteful for universal adoption, but it's already a reality for the enthusiast in some locations.

      It will have to be cheaper than real meat and just as tasteful for universal adoption, but it's already a reality for the enthusiast in some locations.

      1 vote
      1. [6]
        DonQuixote
        Link Parent
        Something tells me people will accept anything that's subpar taste with enough corn syrup and salt and oil. Give them time and make it pretty.

        Something tells me people will accept anything that's subpar taste with enough corn syrup and salt and oil. Give them time and make it pretty.

        5 votes
        1. [5]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          The problem is that meat -- including but not limited to processed products -- is pretty hard to beat and not really expensive for a lot of people.

          The problem is that meat -- including but not limited to processed products -- is pretty hard to beat and not really expensive for a lot of people.

          3 votes
          1. [4]
            DonQuixote
            Link Parent
            It may take a McDonalds behemoth to sell at a loss for a few years. Amazon could swing it if they wanted to.

            It may take a McDonalds behemoth to sell at a loss for a few years. Amazon could swing it if they wanted to.

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              mrbig
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              I think in the near future we won't see a complete substitution, but ground meat is something that may be replaced sooner. Whole steak is another deal from what I can gather.

              I think in the near future we won't see a complete substitution, but ground meat is something that may be replaced sooner.

              Whole steak is another deal from what I can gather.

              5 votes
              1. PhantomBand
                Link Parent
                Well, looks like I'll be one of the earlier adopters then since I almost only like ground meat.

                Well, looks like I'll be one of the earlier adopters then since I almost only like ground meat.

                3 votes
              2. Thrabalen
                Link Parent
                A few days ago there was a news story about a lab grown steak, actually.

                A few days ago there was a news story about a lab grown steak, actually.

      2. [5]
        Thrabalen
        Link Parent
        Oh, it will be. Automobiles were prohibitively expensive, but wider production meant cheaper production. Same thing's going to happen here eventually.

        Oh, it will be. Automobiles were prohibitively expensive, but wider production meant cheaper production. Same thing's going to happen here eventually.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          That is sound. But cars beat equines quite fast in features. Horses and the like are certainly useful, but terribly inconvenient and not that cheap to acquire and maintain. Meat on the other hand...

          That is sound. But cars beat equines quite fast in features. Horses and the like are certainly useful, but terribly inconvenient and not that cheap to acquire and maintain. Meat on the other hand is convenient and accessible for a large portion of human population.

          3 votes
          1. spctrvl
            Link Parent
            I think meat is going to lose in the long term just because of trophic efficiency. Once the processes are down, it should ideally be about ten times cheaper to make plant based meat substitutes...

            I think meat is going to lose in the long term just because of trophic efficiency. Once the processes are down, it should ideally be about ten times cheaper to make plant based meat substitutes than to raise and kill an animal for its meat, possibly even cheaper than that considering different demands for different cuts, and adoption of carbon taxes.

            That, and I think public opinion will turn against meat with surprising rapidity after substitutes win the economic argument, and genuine meat starts to be seen as something distasteful and eaten mainly by deranged rich people, a little bit like foie gras.

            6 votes
          2. [2]
            Thrabalen
            Link Parent
            Well, we're just talking home use. Long before then, vat grown will replace (if not entirely, then mostly) farm grown production. It will start in fast food, with (likely) McDonald's touting "100%...

            Well, we're just talking home use. Long before then, vat grown will replace (if not entirely, then mostly) farm grown production. It will start in fast food, with (likely) McDonald's touting "100% real beef, 100% cruelty-free."

            3 votes
            1. spctrvl
              Link Parent
              You know, I'm actually a little skeptical that vat grown is going to edge out improved plant based solutions like the impossible burger. I suspect that properly lab grown meats are going to be a...

              You know, I'm actually a little skeptical that vat grown is going to edge out improved plant based solutions like the impossible burger. I suspect that properly lab grown meats are going to be a somewhat expensive specialty item, and mass market meat is just going to be cleverly rearranged plants. If economies of scale ever feel like kicking in, or meat subsidies fall off, current meat substitutes are already very ready to replace meat in the highly processed garbage market.

              1 vote
      3. skybrian
        Link Parent
        What’s an example of this?

        What’s an example of this?

        1 vote
  4. [12]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    I'm kind of surprised internet of things appliances aren't listed here. The main flaws of IoT are that it can be shut down at a whim by the running corporation and that the running corporation has...

    I'm kind of surprised internet of things appliances aren't listed here. The main flaws of IoT are that it can be shut down at a whim by the running corporation and that the running corporation has either general or total control of what they can do with it (AKA privacy concerns), along with the general capitalist problem of monopolies stifling innovation. If that's fixed (or if big tech pushes IoT harder as a "chain" to control us ala feudalism), I don't see a reason for people to not link most or all home appliances to the internet.

    3 votes
    1. [10]
      spctrvl
      Link Parent
      I mean, what's a reason to link home appliances to the internet though? I can see the use of it for a thermostat, and maybe a coffee machine if the timer isn't flexible enough for you, but that's...

      I mean, what's a reason to link home appliances to the internet though? I can see the use of it for a thermostat, and maybe a coffee machine if the timer isn't flexible enough for you, but that's about all I can come up with. There's just not much of a value-add to having most appliances be online, seems me it's usually just a dumb gimmick to upsell people on junk they don't need, and banish the specter of consumer satiation for another few years.

      9 votes
      1. [5]
        Thra11
        Link Parent
        I have to say, normally I would be firmly in the "why on earth would you connect this appliance to the network?" camp. However, there is one area where manufacturer's incessant push to add...

        I have to say, normally I would be firmly in the "why on earth would you connect this appliance to the network?" camp. However, there is one area where manufacturer's incessant push to add connectivity to everything could actually be helpful.

        If you are blind or visually impaired, operating a traditional microwave is difficult. Previously, the only solution was to buy something like a talking microwave. I'm sure it's good at what it does, but you don't get any choice, and as a niche item it's much more expensive that a similar-spec mass-market device that doesn't talk. However, if 'connected' devices become the norm, then a partially sighted person can just buy a normal, mass-market, connected microwave, and control it with their phone, tablet, or smartwatch with whatever assistive technologies (e.g screen-readers, magnifiers, haptic feedback, etc.) they usually use.

        Similarly, if you are deaf, a connected device can notify you that it's finished or requires attention by sending you a notification on your phone or smart watch instead of just beeping to itself.

        Essentially, a well implemented connected device (using open protocols) allows you to control the device using an interface of your choice. If the original interface (e.g. the buttons and dials and screen on the device) isn't suitable for you for whatever reason, then you don't have to use it. Usually the added interface is a smart phone app, but with a raspberry pi and a little imagination, you could create all manner of weird and wonderful interfaces to control your appliances.

        10 votes
        1. spctrvl
          Link Parent
          Alright, that's a good point. If we can get the interfaces standardized to that extent, I can see that being very cool and useful. I guess I was thinking strictly about the internet connectivity...

          Alright, that's a good point. If we can get the interfaces standardized to that extent, I can see that being very cool and useful. I guess I was thinking strictly about the internet connectivity angle, less about functionally that's mostly local.

          4 votes
        2. [3]
          joplin
          Link Parent
          It depends on what you mean by connected. There's no reason a microwave has to be connected to the internet to make it work like you say. It could connect via Bluetooth to only a paired device,...

          However, if 'connected' devices become the norm, then a partially sighted person can just buy a normal, mass-market, connected microwave, and control it with their phone, tablet, or smartwatch with whatever assistive technologies (e.g screen-readers, magnifiers, haptic feedback, etc.) they usually use.

          It depends on what you mean by connected. There's no reason a microwave has to be connected to the internet to make it work like you say. It could connect via Bluetooth to only a paired device, and the device could do, for example, voice translation, so the user could say "set power to high and time to 3 minutes" and it would start. That would be a lot more secure than what we currently get with IoT devices.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Thra11
            Link Parent
            I agree that the internet connection is mostly unnecessary and a privacy and security risk. However, I don't think connecting to the local network via wifi is necessarily a bad way to do things....

            I agree that the internet connection is mostly unnecessary and a privacy and security risk. However, I don't think connecting to the local network via wifi is necessarily a bad way to do things. It potentially provides a longer range and better scope for automation (I know I said the one reason for smart appliances was accessibility, not automation, but maybe automation could help accessibility with a little imagination?). It all depends really. If you have a washing machine in an outhouse which doesn't have wifi coverage, and you only want to control it while standing in front of it, bluetooth's probably better. If the device in the kitchen has wifi coverage, and you want it to notify you when its done, wifi could be better as it will likely cover the whole house where bluetooth might not reach depending on the size and construction of the house.

            Bluetooth smart devices definitely do exist. I think there was a coffee machine at work that you could control via bluetooth, so you could request your favourite coffee recipe without fiddling with all the settings and leaving it messed up for the next person.

            3 votes
            1. joplin
              Link Parent
              Yeah, I could see that. The problem is that most people don't have a local-only network. They have their one network that's connected to the Internet. I wonder if in the future local-only networks...

              Yeah, I could see that. The problem is that most people don't have a local-only network. They have their one network that's connected to the Internet. I wonder if in the future local-only networks will become more common? I think most manufacturers would assume that if you have any network connection you can reach their servers, and then they would want to exfiltrate data about you and your use of the product.

              1 vote
      2. [4]
        Weldawadyathink
        Link Parent
        You could preheat your oven just by asking your smart assistant. You could easily schedule exactly when a dishwasher load should run (most have a timer, but they are clunky). If we get really...

        You could preheat your oven just by asking your smart assistant. You could easily schedule exactly when a dishwasher load should run (most have a timer, but they are clunky). If we get really smart, the oven and stove could turn off (after notifying you) if you take everything off and forget. The fridge can notify and order more water filters when they get low. Furnace/water heater can notify and schedule services. Washing machine and dryer can notify your phone or smart speaker. Smoke detectors can directly call emergency services (with the ability to cancel).

        There is a value add for almost appliances in a modern fruit. Even if you don’t find value in the features, some people will.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          spctrvl
          Link Parent
          The smoke detectors are a decent one, but I dunno, most of the rest of those use cases seem super marginal to me. Maybe the automatic shutoff for the oven, but that could be done easier and more...

          The smoke detectors are a decent one, but I dunno, most of the rest of those use cases seem super marginal to me. Maybe the automatic shutoff for the oven, but that could be done easier and more reliably without the involvement of a computer (let alone a network connection) just using scales and a timer; I'd be somewhat surprised if it weren't already a thing.

          Anyway, it's not that I don't think anyone will find IoT appliances useful, I just don't think they're going to be compelling enough to most people to become popular unless connectivity becomes a nearly inescapable default. Maybe I'm projecting, but it just seems like a forced trend to me, like 3D movies.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            joplin
            Link Parent
            I agree with your sentiment, and It feels that way to me, as well. But seeing how you mostly can't buy a TV that's not a smart TV, I'm fearful that every other appliance will soon be a "smart"...

            Maybe I'm projecting, but it just seems like a forced trend to me, like 3D movies.

            I agree with your sentiment, and It feels that way to me, as well. But seeing how you mostly can't buy a TV that's not a smart TV, I'm fearful that every other appliance will soon be a "smart" appliance whose main purpose is to track you and show you ads because it makes money for the manufacturer.

            The fridge can notify and order more water filters when they get low.

            Fuck that. I purchased a replacement water filter for my fridge and now the manufacturer mails me every three weeks "reminding" me to order more water filters. That's what it would turn into. It wouldn't be a useful reminder, it would hound you to give them more money incessantly. That's a future I have no interest in participating in.

            3 votes
            1. spctrvl
              Link Parent
              I actually bought a non-smart 4K TV recently to use as a monitor, and let's just say I was not spoiled for choice. Really hate that trend, and I don't see it going well if the rest of the smart...

              I actually bought a non-smart 4K TV recently to use as a monitor, and let's just say I was not spoiled for choice. Really hate that trend, and I don't see it going well if the rest of the smart appliances develop similarly. I sort of doubt it will though, just because a smart TV does have tremendous value add for the non-privacy concerned consumer, whereas the benefits for most smart appliances are more marginal.

              Fuck that. I purchased a replacement water filter for my fridge and now the manufacturer mails me every three weeks "reminding" me to order more water filters. That's what it would turn into. It wouldn't be a useful reminder, it would hound you to give them more money incessantly. That's a future I have no interest in participating in.

              Yeah, I can not imagine letting my fridge order my water filters would go well at all. Like, sure, let's put my credit card number into my fridge, which is also running on a super vulnerable, internet connected software platform that will never be updated, in order for it to buy products for me at the behest of a manufacturer who does not share my interests. I was arguing in my comment against IoT devices as a future ideal where they didn't suffer the privacy and update issues, and I still didn't like them; if you consider the actual reality of these things, that is a hard pass from me.

              1 vote
    2. mrbig
      Link Parent
      Privacy, price, and unnecessary complexity comes to mind.

      Privacy, price, and unnecessary complexity comes to mind.

      2 votes