Home items are get­ting smarter ... and creepier

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By Anick Jes­da­nun AP Tech­nol­ogy Writer

One day, find­ing an oven that just cooks food may be as tough as buy­ing a TV that merely lets you change chan­nels.

In­ter­net-con­nected “smarts” are creep­ing into cars, re­frig­er­a­tors, ther­mostats, toys and just about ev­ery­thing else in your home. CES 2019, the gad­get show that opened on Jan. 8 in Las Ve­gas, show­cased many of these prod­ucts and in­cluded an oven that co­or­di­nates your recipes and a toi­let that flushes with a voice com­mand.

With ev­ery ad­di­tional smart de­vice in your home, com­pa­nies are able to gather more de­tails about your daily life. Some of that can be used to help ad­ver­tis­ers tar­get you — more pre­cisely than they could with just the smart­phone you carry.

“It’s de­cen­tral­ized sur­veil­lance,” said Jeff Ch­ester, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Cen­ter for Dig­i­tal Democ­racy, a Wash­ing­ton-based dig­i­tal pri­vacy ad­vo­cate. “We’re liv­ing in a world where we’re teth­ered to some on­line ser­vice stealth­ily gath­er­ing our in­for­ma­tion.”

Yet con­sumers so far seem to be wel­com­ing these de­vices.

The re­search firm IDC pro­jected that 1.3 bil­lion smart de­vices will ship world­wide in 2022, twice as many as 2018.

Com­pa­nies say they are build­ing these prod­ucts not for snoop­ing but for con­ve­nience, although Ama­zon, Google and other part­ners en­abling the in­tel­li­gence can use the de­tails they col­lect to cus­tom­ize their ser­vices and ads.

Whirlpool, for in­stance, is test­ing an oven whose win­dow dou­bles as a dis­play. You’ll still be able to see what’s roast­ing inside, but the glass now dis­plays an­i­ma­tion point­ing to where to place the turkey for op­ti­mal cook­ing.

The oven can sync with your dig­i­tal cal­en­dar and rec­om­mend recipes based on how much time you have. It can help coordinate mul­ti­ple recipes, so that you’re not un­der­cook­ing the side dishes in fo­cus­ing too much on the en­tree. A cam­era inside lets you zoom in to see if the cheese on the lasagna has browned enough, with­out open­ing the oven door.

As for that smart toi­let, Kohler’s Numi will re­spond to voice com­mands to raise or lower the lid — or to flush. You can do it from an app, too. The com­pany says it’s all about of­fer­ing hands-free op­tions in a set­ting that’s very per­sonal for peo­ple. The toi­let is also heated and can play mu­sic and the news through its speak­ers.

Kohler also has a tub that ad­justs wa­ter tem­per­a­ture to your lik­ing and a kitchen faucet that dis­penses just the right amount of wa­ter for a recipe.

For the most part, con­sumers aren’t ask­ing for these spe­cific fea­tures. “We try to be in­no­va­tive in ways that cus­tomers don’t think they need,” Samsung spokesman Louis Masses said.

Whirlpool said in­sights can come from something as sim­ple as watch­ing con­sumers open the oven door sev­eral times to check on the meal, los­ing heat in the process.

“They do not say to us, ‘Please tell me where to put (food) on the rack, or do al­go­rithm-based cook­ing,’” said Doug Sear­les, gen­eral man­ager for Whirlpool’s re­search arm, WLabs. “They tell us the re­sults that are most im­por­tant to them.”

/ AP-John Locher

A wo­man demon­strates the Artemis smart mir­ror at the CareOS booth dur­ing CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional in Las Ve­gas. The in­ter­ac­tive mir­ror has video cap­ture, vir­tual try-ons, fa­cial and ob­ject recog­ni­tion, and can give the user video in­struc­tion on spe­cific makeup prod­ucts, among other things.

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