[True story, slightly anonymized] A friend recently bought a top of the line “smart” refrigerator that has an 8-inch touchscreen as the interface to the various “apps” (a family calendar, weather report, etc) that come with the fridge. The touchscreen also serves as the interface for the water and ice dispenser. The first time I went to get a glass of ice water, I pushed the nice looking icon for crushed ice and when I put my glass under the dispenser a stream of water came out. I then pushed “cubed ice” which yielded a nice looking icon transition but again only a stream of water materialized. Every icon I selected kept giving me water. I asked my friend if her ice maker worked, and she said “Yes, oh are you having issues with it? I need to reboot it every once in a while to get the ice to work.” She then proceeds to go the counter next to the fridge where there is already a straightened paper clip ready and waiting to jam into the reset hole –because this happens regularly. We then both stare at the fridge as it reboots… My friend then places the paper clip back next to the refrigerator. I finally get a glass of ice water.
A smart fridge should make your life easier; it should not make you search for paperclips and perform reboot operations when you just want a glass of ice water.
It looks like this product may have gone to market with too much complexity built into it compared to the amount of validation and testing that was performed. Putting an entire computer and operating system and lots of new software into a refrigerator might cause more trouble than it is worth. More complexity leads to more potential points of failure. More complexity also leads to another area of IoT risk — more security vulnerabilities. As appliance companies are trying to hurry new connected products to market, do they really possess the software systems and security experience to embed computers into every product?
At Arrayent we know there is a better way. We facilitate the design of connected products that remain as simple as possible (keeping things as things), and not turning them into full-blown computers with complex software to manage. We push most of the complexity into the Arrayent Connect Cloud, which is our very secure and scalable IoT Platform (with tons of great IoT features). This allows our customers to focus on building great things without the added burden of trying to debug tons of software inside their products. We have many years of experience successfully connecting trusted brands, and we love to help new entrants do the same.
Or, if you are just looking to buy a new smart fridge, check that the product’s reviews don’t have lots of mentions of the word “paperclip”.