Smart devices? Gladly, but not during quality time

The aspirations of man in the 21st century are concerned with optimization, networking and further development. There are also more and more smart applications in our homes. //next columnist Markus Sekulla is an enthusiastic technology fan, but today he takes a critical look at where things are going too far for him. 

The Ultrahouse 3,000: It promises that no one will have to do chores anymore. Everything is networked with each other. An AI provides the interface between the devices. It cooks, cleans, washes the dishes and even massages the owners. A dream of many enthusiastic AI and smart home fans - and, so far, only (unfortunately) fiction from the Simpsons series.

However, a look at the present reveals that the concept of a complete smart home no longer seems that far away: At the very least, all sorts of companies now seem to be offering smart products. Much of it improves life, but much of it is merely bells and whistles. My example today: a well-known grill manufacturer with its new models that can be connected to your phone and are supposed to make your grilling experience better. And I have a pretty clear opinion on this: No, my grilling experience probably won't get any better as a result.  

Perfect steak vs perfect conversation

Summertime is barbecue time - that is not a fixed rule in Germany. So far, however, it's all been more a matter of gut feeling. Even self-proclaimed barbecue masters sometimes find that the hotly awaited food burns on one of the two sides. The grill manufacturer in question has come up with a solution: Its new gas grills not only feature an LED display, but also a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interface.

A specially developed app shows the user the current temperature at all times and informs him when it's time to turn the food or take it off the grill. An integrated step-by-step recipe guide quickly turns beginners into professionals. If you don't feel like using the app, you can also rely on the built-in LED display. It displays the same information and sounds an acoustic signal when users need to be notified.

Phew. Actually reads pretty well, doesn't it? And I think it makes the steak perfect. But: Is that what we want? I think we humans spend too much time with technology - especially, of course, our smartphones. The Corona pandemic has made it worse rather than better, statistics show. For me, there are two parts of my life in particular where screens and Bluetooth don't play a big role: when I'm seeing family, friends and acquaintances, or when I'm doing sports. More generally, quality time is a cell phone-free zone. 

Sure, like most of us, I've started Runtastic or looked at my phone while drinking wine with friends, but those days are passé. And barbecuing and socializing together is the most fun without a cell phone. Team perfect conversation!

Benefits vs risks

Nevertheless, smart devices can of course make our lives better. A "connected home" can offer a great deal of convenience. It makes everyday activities easier and saves us a lot of time, hashtag robot vacuum cleaner. In a society characterized by hectic and stress, connected devices are often helpers. I no longer have an overview of my schedule? No problem: Siri & Co. tell me. I forgot to turn off the stove? No problem in the smart home either. I simply ask my voice speaker to take care of it.

But higher, smarter, further - that's how you can describe the lifestyle of many people. A motto, however, that raises the question of the extent to which we want to optimize our living space. For me, this is primarily an issue of good living and quality time without a cell phone. Not to mention the risks of burglars 2.0 - or who on vacation has ever thought about the fact that it's quite easy for skilled hackers to see that the smart toothbrush at home hasn't been used for six days? Nevertheless: Team Benefit!


Is this what our future looks like - fully connected and optimized? Do we really want to relinquish our control and responsibility in every area for a little convenience and time savings? Yes and no. But perhaps a very simple conclusion remains: smart devices are welcome, but not during quality time.

Text: Markus Sekulla

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