The IFA is one of the oldest trade shows for consumer electronics in Germany, and calls itself “the global innovations show”. In the past, many important innovations had their world premieres during this annual event – for example the music cassette and the compact disc.
This year the IFA had its focus on TVs with ultra HD resolution (4k), the Google smart watch “Galaxy Gear” and the topic that has become increasingly important over the last few years: “how can I remote control everything I own with my smartphone?”
I do like some of the ideas that were presented this year. For example a fridge that has cameras inside and can send you pictures of its content, in case you don’t remember your shopping list. This may prevent people from buying more food than they need, so it could help to reduce the masses of food thrown away each year.
Also, it sounds awesome to start your washing machine, the oven and the cleaning robot while you’re on your way home, so that by the time you arrive all the work is done.
But besides all the advantages and comfort this technology brings into our homes, there is one major problem – everything that is connected to the network can be hacked. I don’t really worry about someone starting my washing machine or my cleaning robot, but I do worry about things like Smart-TVs with built-in cameras and microphones, electronic doors and window locks, remote controlled garage doors, wifi babyphones – or network surveillance cameras. A German website collects IP-addresses of cameras that are not well protected. (http://www.schnatterente.net/technik/unsichere-ueberwachungskameras) These cameras have not been hacked, they are just not safe and available for everyone who can google. The range of webcams available on this website include those inside a casino, private houses and an ATM inside a bank.
Technology is certainly getting smarter and changing the way we interact with our household goods and our houses themselves, but it also raises the question: is smart too smart? I guess it’s like always, everything should be taken in small doses and we need to think about the consequences of too much connectivity. Still, despite this, it’s exciting what is in store for us and what the future holds.