When Things interfere


Menno1Ever since I bought a standby killer for my TV, I’m obsessed by the word “interfere”. The standby killer and the TV don’t go well together. Normally my TV would move from the wall towards the room automatically when I put it on. The standby killer “interfered” and since that moment my TV behaves like a tennis match: going back and forth to the wall and to the room whenever it feels like it. I told this story to a friend of mine and he said he has a similar experience. He has got this “smart TV cabinet” that opens automatically when you put the TV on. During a family diner two weeks ago, the cabinet opened its doors spontaneously. A huge vase with flowers got knocked on the floor and soon everybody was busy wiping the floor with towels. Something must have triggered it, maybe it was the phone of one of the guests. When we interviewed Jaron Lanier recently (author of the books “I’m not a gadget” and “Who owns the future” he had an interesting opinion: it’s only when we see the glitches he said, that we know the internet of things is coming. Glitches can be anything: from not being able to open your hotel door with a smart card, to your connected car that doesn’t drive anymore.

Now you understand my obsession with the word “interfere”. At the same time I’m still interested in smartening my home and finding better smart sockets. I was caught by “The Wink”. General electric is backing this crowdsourced innovation with $30 million.


In the end they need $79 million to deliver it to the market. As you might know, GE’s plans to co-develop dozens of new smart devices with Quirky through the Wink: Instantly. They’ve already released the automatable Pivot Power Genius power strip, the environment-sensing Quirky Spotter, the expiration-date-tracking Egg Minder Smart Egg Tray, and the Nimbus, a dashboard capable of tracking everything from the weather to your Twitter mentions.
The Wink App controls everything. My question is whether all this is going to work or something will interfere. In the end I’m just afraid that my eggs get hard boiled when my Nimbus comes with a new weather forecast.

Menno van Doorn


Menno is Director of the Sogeti Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology (VINT). He mixes personal life experiences with the findings of the 19 years of research done at the VINT Research Institute.

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