Smart home devices commodify life convenience for big profits

Understanding smart devices is necessary as technology improves and expands

Smart home devices offer many conveniences in everyday life but with a cost. (Shutterstock/aslysun)

Smart home devices offer many conveniences in everyday life but with a cost. (Shutterstock/aslysun)

Modern conveniences have come a long way in making life easier for us. Washing machines, air conditioning, water heaters, and many other splendours have cut out extra chores that were once incredibly normal in daily life. 

Technological advancements continue to trim everyday tasks, with the concept of the smart home being the ultimate example of this easy-living phenomenon.

It’s a tempting thought after all, devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Nest make it so that anything from lights, music, and security cameras can be turned on or off with voice commands. Such is very useful for residents who, due to age, disabilities, or a lack of time, cannot accomplish these regular tasks by themselves. 

All of this can be achieved from a few modules or a smartphone. The delegation of household operations to smart devices is certainly a feat of technological advancement once thought fictional but now is an increasing reality. As more people embrace the smart home lifestyle, it’s crucial that we closely examine the details involved with living in a digitally-enhanced home.

Convenience is a lucrative draw, but there is more than that going on for the smart home. Smart devices allow for many other enticing benefits like energy conservation, peace of mind with home security features including cameras, accessibility, and home value bonuses. Indeed, by installing smart devices, the average homeowner opens themselves up to a brand new world of possibilities.

People can check who is at the door while at work, adjust temperatures without touching the thermostat, or control the lights through an app. Everything becomes easier to do — jobs simple enough to be mere afterthoughts delve further into that territory of feasibility. 

However, with greater convenience comes a greater series of costs. Financial burdens aside, connecting home utilities to a single device that is further connected into a virtual cloud along with thousands of other devices carries certain inherent risks.

Firstly, and most discernibly, is the price tag. Smart home technology may have lowered since its initial conception, but the total costs of every device purchased add up. Right off the bat, smart homes are not accessible to all. 

Then there is compatibility. Going with one smart device over another will lock you out from certain product lines, leaving you with no choice but to depend on supplementary devices, such as wireless speakers or doorbell cameras that are compatible. This can further burn a hole in your wallet. 

And cybersecurity is a big industry for a reason. There is no such thing as a perfect computer program — code can be exploited through even the most miniscule vulnerabilities. The cloud that smart devices rely on to function are susceptible to hacking because of how data transmission works, creating the possibility of malicious individuals to lock you out of your own home and appliances for laughs. 

It’s not just rogue coders to be concerned about either. Big tech will collect data from smart devices for marketing and rely on the consumers’ ignorance of the particulars of the user agreements they sign. 

Click “I agree” and you have opened yourself up to being clandestinely observed through data harvesting, voice recordings, and location tracking. From there, the Silicon Valley titans will tailor and make ad campaigns to squeeze out extra profits. 

Convenience is not free, especially in our hyper profit-driven world. Innovations that should be legitimate means to make life easier for us all are designed and ruthlessly exploited to maximize profits for the already extremely wealthy big tech companies.