Smarty pants
The Music Maker opinion

Smarty pants

Electronic gadgets claiming to be smart are, almost unfailingly, quite the opposite - writes Peter Edgerton

Peter Edgerton


Thursday, 28 March 2024, 16:28


Generally speaking, the purchase of anything with the prefix 'smart' attached to it is a fool's errand, unless it's followed by 'suit', or, even better, 'ies'.

Electronic gadgets claiming to be smart are, almost unfailingly, quite the opposite. Smart watches are a case in point. We have a few customers at the pub who wear such things and who, when using them to pay, find themselves involved in bodily contortions that members of the Cirque Du Soleil would be proud of.

I'm convinced one chap came close to dislocating his shoulder on one occasion, such was his body shape and the accompanying grimace. These gadgets spend their time monitoring your calorie-burning levels, heart rate and the number of steps you've taken during the day among other intrusions. What's more, unlike a nagging spouse, they never rest– they'll even spy on you while you're asleep, which is just creepy. My advice would be get one of those little square alarm clocks from the nearest Chinese shop instead. Oh, and to pay in cash.

Similarly, smart electric meters are anything but. Apparently, there are about three million faulty ones in the UK, causing innocent customers to be charged astronomical amounts for electricity they haven't used. It's like we're unable to speak the truth: that the latest technology isn't always the best technology.

We received a new card payment machine at the pub the other day and, as he walked in, the technical bloke who came to set it up spotted the old one lying forlorn and rejected on the bar like an ex-lover.

"Is that the machine you've been using until now?"

"Er, yes. It's a bit old and tatty isn't it?"

"A bit but it's much better than this thing. This one's nowhere near as reliable."

He waved the offending gadget about at arm's length above his head with an air of disdain usually reserved for used nappies by first-time parents. We've kept both machines on his advice.

Smart speakers are really weird as well. Talking to an inanimate object in any context is a bit spooky, even if it's your mate Dave who's had one over the eight. It seems especially odd, though, if you're on your own in your house, addressing a piece of furniture.

"Sirilexa, play some jazz – you choose because, frankly, I don't know the names of any musicians anymore. In fact I don't know anything anymore. I'm all woozy lately, and my mind feels like it's made of strawberry blancmange. Crikey - you do realise, don't you, that when I asked you to dim the lights a few weeks ago, I didn't mean mine?"

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