Smart home technology: a tool or a vice?

Posted on Jan 25 2017 - 8:00am by James Halbrook

On a recent morning, as I was waking up, I was greeted to a briefing not unlike the one that Jarvis gives in the Iron Man movies.

“Today the high will be 50 degrees with a low of 34 degrees, clear with a zero percent chance of rain,” echoed my Google Home. “Today you have thermodynamics at 11:00 a.m.-,” “OK Google, that’s enough!” I sleepily proclaimed.

If I had wanted, I could have been woken up to a flashing light display put on by my Philips Hue lights that synchronized with my alarm.

Over the break, a good friend of mine demonstrated this to me, but it seems to be a little exuberant (and creepy) for my tastes. It was like waking up in a horror movie … try sleeping through that.

The point is, there is so-called smart technology out there today that can improve productivity and can ensure one sticks to a schedule.

On a more serious note, however, these companies can use all this information about you to market products specifically tailored to you.  Google knows that I am taking thermodynamics this semester, so what was the next advertisement when I opened up Google Chrome?  A thermodynamics textbook.

Once one spoils themselves with these technologies, it kind of starts to snowball.  You will find yourself in bed one evening, you just turned the lights off with your iPhone, and you think, “Hmm. It sure would be nice if I could lower the thermostat a couple degrees from here.”

Then you order the Nest Thermostat from Amazon Prime.  It will be there in two days.  Unbelieveable.

Smart technologies do make managing a faster-paced lifestyle a lot easier, but there are certain dangers we need to be aware of.  Currently smart tech is only in a handful of homes, but before we know it, it will be the standard.

The marketing potential and the sheer knowledge companies can acquire about individuals is staggering, and there needs to be legislature implemented now about the extent to which compiling and sharing this information can extend.

It is transforming from an issue of how much benefit can we gain from the use of these items, to the privacy we lose because of them.

The problems can be physical, too. Excessive screen time has been shown to lead to dry spots on the eyes, and eventually, migraines and muscle strain.

Too much technology can lead to an “information overload” and take away what should matter most to us, like conversation and family time.

Technology, like most things, should be consumed in moderation for personal use. Too much of a good thing can transform into a very bad thing quite easily.

James Halbrook is a sophomore chemical engineering major from Brandon.