from the I'm-sorry-I-can't-do-that,-Dave deptIf you hadn't noticed by now, in the IOT era, sometimes dumb technology is the smarter option. Given that privacy and security are usually afterthoughts for many vendors, we now live in an age where your Barbie can be hacked and used to spy on your kids, your refrigerator can be hacked to gain access to your Gmail account, your smart tea kettle can provide a nice attack vector on your home network, and your "smart" television watches you every bit as often as you watch it. This wasn't the future the Jetsons promised.
Enter the June oven, a "smart" oven that originally launched in 2015 with a $1500 countertop variant that used a camera and "computer vision" to know what was being cooked. The company then launched a $600 version in 2018 that integrates an oven, an air fryer, dehydrator, slow cooker, broiler, toaster, warming drawer, and convection countertop oven. Which might all be fairly impressive if the oven didn't have a weird habit of turning itself on in the middle of the night:
The future is decidedly more Terry Gilliam than Star Trek.
"The first documented overnight preheat occurred in May. A group member wrote that he roasted potatoes around 5PM one night and left them to cool in the oven. He apparently forgot to take them out. The next morning, he awoke to find that the oven had turned on at 1:20AM and baked at 425 degrees for four hours and 32 minutes. The potatoes, which were still in the oven, burned to a crisp. “Had I not left the potatoes overnight, I may have not realized it had turned on in the night,” he wrote."
In response, June's CEO decided that the best path forward was to blame owners for the problem:
"June CEO Matt Van Horn says that owners, not the oven, are at fault. “We’ve seen a few cases where customers have accidentally activated their oven preheat via a device, figure your cell phone,” he tells The Verge. “So imagine if I were to be in the June app clicking recipes and I accidentally tapped something that preheated my oven, we’ve seen a few cases of that.”
While there's certainly an element of human error here, if you can accidentally preheat your oven with your ass, we're talking about design issues. Other customers say their ovens began cooking nonexistent food in the middle of the night due to things like Alexa misunderstanding smart home commands. And while June says that it will try and implement tech that prevents the oven from staying on if there's no food inside, this complicated tap dance only really advertises how sometimes the dumber tech we already have is perfectly fine.
Zero arrests, 2 correct matches, no criminals: London cops' facial recog tech slammed READ MORE The overall tone was that the design of live facial recognition trials needed to be more rigorous, and the tech should be used with a large dollop of caution, plenty of independent oversight and only if it actually works.
Ovens preheat in minutes and it often requires a single button press (or three). If you're going to improve upon basic ideas, you probably want to make sure your internet-connected devices don't inadvertently make the technology more annoying than ever.