You’ve heard of “the Internet of things?” After just one day at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, it’s abundantly clear that the tech industry is more interested in the “Bluetooth-ification of things.”
Ah, Bluetooth. The short-range wireless technology that now makes it possible to link your smartphone and tablet to a speaker, a pair of headphones, a car stereo, and, now, just about every other product known to man.
To wit: at a special media event hosted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, I discovered Bluetooth-enhanced water bottles, basketballs, micro-drones, kitchen thermometers, hearing aids, light bulbs, front-door locks, and gleaming guns used for laser tag-style games.
Can the Bluetooth fry pan be far behind?
Granted, when you attend an event with Bluetooth in the title, you expect a Bluetooth-rich environment. But as I strolled around, I found myself paraphrasing the old saying from gas-rationing days: Is this product really necessary?
Take the HAPIspoon (please!), successor to the much-mocked HAPIfork that debuted at last year’s CES. Now you’ll know (courtesy of your smartphone and a data-rich app) that you’re eating your ice cream too quickly. Technology to the rescue! (Of common sense.)
Then there’s the H20-Pal, which, I’m sorry to say, is one of several “smart” water bottles you can now buy. I realize I’m probably not drinking enough water each day. But you know what? When I’m thirsty, I drink. If I’m making an effort to drink more, I can set reminders. Do I really need to spend $70 for a bottle that tracks my water intake, and, worse, tells my Facebook friends about it?
That’s a no, in case the sarcasm wasn’t abundantly clear.
I’m not saying all Bluetooth-related innovation is bad. The iDevices Kitchen Thermometer is pretty cool, as it will ping your phone when the chicken in the oven has reached 165 degrees. And a basketball that can measure (and announce, in real-time) the angle of my jump-shot? That’s pretty darn cool, especially for hopeless brick-layers like me.
But what I didn’t see at the show was any progress in the core technology. For example, as a runner, I’d love to wear a pair of Bluetooth earbuds while my iPhone stays strapped to my waist. Alas, although barely two feet separate the two devices, Bluetooth works poorly outdoors, to the extent that the signal frequently gets interrupted. The only way to make it work is to strap the iPhone to my upper arm.
So, yeah, Bluetooth people: How about solving that little glitch before adding Bluetooth to my belt buckle, cereal box, and mop bucket?