The Google Calendar break is just the most egregious of
a laundry list of software problemswith this fridge: users report difficulty with everything from Twitter to the photo reader. Worse, after a power outage,
it reboots into demo mode—with the cooling compressor off. Spoiled milk, ahoy.
If you think a smart fridge
is a dumb idea, you’re not alone. When people started buzzing about the Internet of Things (4.9 billion connected devices and counting), lots of experts sent up warning flares. “If you think error messages and applications crashes are a problem now, just wait
until the web is embedded in everything from your car to your sneakers,” Wired reporter Klint Finley cautioned in 2014.
We’ve worried in the past
about how embedded electronics open up your teddy bears and cars to copyright restrictions, as well as about how they can shorten the lifespan of devices. For refrigerators, a shorter lifespan is a particularly big deal—appliances actually make up about 60% of global e-waste.
usually last about 14 years, a lifespan that has held pretty constant in the last few decades. But smart fridges threaten to shorten that lifespan significantly. In the
software world, 14 years is practically an eternity. Most companies won’t support software that old, so the fate of the Samsung smart fridge Google Calendar is all but inevitable. And when people can
only fix the out-of-date electronics on the front of their fridge by replacing the whole kit and caboodle, they’ll upgrade. This wastes all the materials and energy that went into manufacturing. Sad
news for anyone who cares about the environment.
So, before you go out and
educate all your appliances, consider how smart you really need them to be—and how smart they’ll be when their software is out of date next year.
Top image via Kars Alfrink on