Connected Devices: How Much is Too Much?

By Adam Zeis on 2 May 2014 11:41 am

We'll be covering plenty of connected tech here at Connectedly. There are loads of connected devices out there already, and we'll undoubtedly be seeing loads more in the future. Many of the connected devices we'll see here have actually been around for quite some time — devices like Sonos and Withings have been on the market for years. Others, like many smartwatches and other wearables like Google Glass are still relatively new. While there will certainly be some amazing connected products to be had, there will also be a handful of devices that just shouldn't be touched — at all. Leading us to ponder, how connected is too connected?

Cruising around at CES 2014 we saw aisles upon aisles of connected products. Fitness bands, smartwatches, smart scales, connected cars — you name it. We even saw things like Oral-B's Bluetooth toothbrush, which is now available in the UK. This is just one of many products that pushes the limits of connectivity. Do we really need devices like a connected toothbrush? Or even fitness trackers for kids? Some would argue that we don't really have a need for smartwatches or connected eyewear, so how far it too far?

Of course everyone here at Connectedly is excited for what's to come — we're all geeks and love the latest and great connected gadgets. But not everyone feels the same way. Some people certainly have a line where some things are just pushing it too far. Pretty soon we'll be connected everywhere we turn, in every room of every building. Connected things are everywhere — appliances, toys, cars, clothing and yes, even utensils.

Hit up the comments and let us know what you think — is there such a thing as being "too connected"? How much is too much?

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Reader comments

Connected Devices: How Much is Too Much?


Adam, I think this is a great post and poses a really interesting question. I think the answer to that question could warrant an entire sub-site on Mobile Nations - one on privacy and our "socially connected" world. Because having devices be connected to other devices, I think, really couldn't "cross the line" on its own. Devices talking to one another and working interconnectedly with each other is the geek's absolute dream. But what result of that interconnectedness is of paramount concern - are we talking about never being able to enter a public space without our location being broadcasted somewhere on the web, or tagging something with our NFC to bring up a link also sends a notice to the owner of whatever we're tagging, who then collects our data without our knowledge and sells it to the highest bidder... Or perhaps every single device that does anything ever has to upload the activity to a FB Newsfeed (or whatever replaces that in the future), diluting any of its real meaningful content to the point of irrelevance.

I love the thought of all of our devices communicating with each other to the point of having a completely integrated life tech solution - one that is ultimately customizable based on the devices we choose. I just think it should be a somewhat contained solution that keeps our data privacy in tact.

Too much is if you don't want it, don't see the usefulness, or think it's silly. If I can imagine it as an infomercial I probably think it's too much - but plenty of people would love it.

The greatest thing about being connected is the ability to disconnect at will. I do that from time to time maintain my sanity.

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As much as I love technology and gadgets but I think this is becoming a bit ridiculous, the only source of feedback I need for brushing my teeth is the sink mirror. I draw the line at smartwatches.

as long as it make life easier or be really useful there's no limit, for example we don't need any bluetooth underwear that tell us how many farts we had during one day, but of curse we always found how to make useful something that is not. (sorry, not english native speaker)

If it makes life easier I'm cool! or maybe not... lately I was just thinking like: hmmm Big Brother really is watching every single move men do... so as long as it makes life easier with respect to a person's privacy it's all good.

Only too connected if you choose to be. Most people are only connected to one or two items, bluetooth phone, wi-fi, but for those of us that love tech, we just can't get enough and want more.

There is no such thing. If you don't want something to be connected, don't use it. Don't be annoyed by other people who do use it because of your own need to limit yourself. (there's nothing wrong with that, btw)

Too much is when you get completely addicted and you rely only to it (e.g. need a smart-fork to tell you how to eat right). It's also too much when it get out of your control and you end up (auto)posting on social media, how many bites you have, how many kms you run and if your urine is yellow or completely transparent.

Toothbrush is too much, until I decide I want to make sure my kids are actually brushing their teeth and not just take their word for it. For a watch, I can't see me needing anything more than my Pebble (Color touchscreen is overrated). It is only too much when I am completely broke (which I am...)

As long as the connected device is optional, you can chose to use it or not. We all get to chose how connected we are. If it is forced on us then that is to much.

How much is too much?

It's a price elasticity dilemma...

As long as economical costs of devices and connections do not seriously compromise a company's / household's budget, then there's no limit, really.

Economies of scale also play a key role: As more devices / appliances are produced and sold, their costs will decrease, while manufacturers' / developers' profits will rise and there will still be a margin for further investment in R&D that will result in production of less expensive, though better working technology.

A virtuous cycle...

In terms of which industry will be most connected, eyes closed, it'll be health care, and we'll all have a stake at it, for good or bad, so all the better for us if we invest early (like now) in some stock.

How much is too much? Well, at the end of the day it all depends on the cost of living.

What is too much or ridiculous to some might be just enough or sensible to others. I think that in order to attempt to meet the needs of every human being, there will have to be an attempt to connect just about everything that people interact with daily. Connected is simply the new digital. Digital watches didn't kill analog. They just simply gave consumers a choice. Just like smart watches have added one more choice.

Adam, what type of silly question is this? Too much technology? Are you high? LOL.

Seriously, it's a great, thoughtful question.

To be fair, there was a time I thought people were crazy to want to combine a smartphone and a PDA. Who in the world wanted to be that connected? I remember when people clamoring for Bluetooth and wi-fi modules on cell phones were considered to be overly self-important.

So, things (and people's priorities) evolve. For now, I still think it's possible to go a bit overboard.

But the answers already given are perfectly succinct. When it becomes work, it's probably non-optimal.

I think the issue comes when devices cost more than the phone your using it with. Me using a nexus 5, wouldn't be willing to spend more than 300$ or so on a device to connect to my phone. I want connected devices to cost less then devices I personally purchase and stay relavent for longer than my phone. Its an add on, a bonus. I'm not willing to break the bank for an unncessesary accessory.

Too much is when it's simply "too much". For instance, I'm happy with the way i use my brush right now. I can imagine how a lot of people will be thrilled to use a brush that collects data, but i'd like to keep it simple. Some things are meant to be left simple.

Honestly, I'm one of those guys that approaches connected devices with a little bit of careful consideration (especially if it's one of those that don't seem to be broken without the connectedness aspect).

That said, in the world of the quantified self, it's obviously beneficial to have as much connectedness as possible... On the other hand, I'm not really following that movement so I don't personally find much use for a lot of those devices like the bluetooth toothbrush, etc, since... you know... toothbrushes work totally fine without bluetooth.

For some "to much" does not apply. If you're a techie than you will never have enough. For me, if it makes my life easier to control, count me in. I could care less if Google knows my house temp. I'm not really that important for the giants to keep an eye on me. Google knows when I leave for work and come home. Well so does my neighbor. I don't hate them. Lol. Technology advancing is all good and one day you will appreciate it.

Toothbrush? Nah... Pointless. On the other hand, stuff like light bulbs, garage doors (imagine that with wp Cortana!) that do REALLY make your life easier by having one hub for everything (your smartphone) are pretty cool/useful.

At a certain point, it becomes device overload and it's tough to differentiate between devices. A phone, tablet, and tracker, whether as a watch or dedicated device, is probably all anyone needs.

Being connected is good in my opinion but being over connected can get you in trouble. If you have all your devices working together and it is easy to go from one device to another that is good. I think when it comes to banking on a mobile device I am not a fan at this time. That may change down the road. You just have be smart when it comes to adding connections. I don't want a smart watch but I do wear a fitness tracker. In the end have all you want without driving yourself crazy.

Well 'too much' really depends on how you define the term. If too many devices with many connectivity options are used then according to me its too much. I mean that whats the point of having a hundred different devices with a hundred different ways to connect if you can't handle them. A tablet, a phone, a smartwatch, a fitness smartwatch (since most smartwatch ergonomic unless specifically designed for the task are poor at fitness tracking take the case of pebble vs adidas for that matter. Adidas is much better for fitness tracking as compared to a pebble). All these and more like smart scales, smart TV, smart music player. One thing that annoys me the most is that you have all these devices but even then we have wires hanging around the house because of chargers and crap cause they don't really conform with a particular standard and because of this a good phone charger is not that good at charging a tablet.

I don't know if there is a point of too much connectivity. Limitations due to crummy battery life and a lack of integration between devices and apps are the big issues right now. If you have to tinker with devices everyday, the value diminishes. But improving battery technology keeps moving ahead, and we could always see industry standards emerge, even if it's due to monopolization. And of course we can always limit ourselves to what we think we need/want for degree of connection. For instance, I know I'll never buy the connected blue tooth brush. But the blue tooth hearing aids might be in my future. Connected pace maker? Implanted and connected insulin pump? Hope not, but who knows.

Too much is when we start to connect devices with overlapping features and is hard to know what's the porpouse of each one. In my opinion there's a main device and the others should be only extensions of it.

Too much is when something is connected for the sake of being connected. Is there a benefit to being connected? What is that benefit and is it truly useful? There are things that just don't need to be connected and things that benefit from being connected. Also, the more connected we are, the safer / more vulnerable we are. These go hand in hand, so I think that argument is a draw and it comes down to the benefit to the user vs. the benefit to the seller.

Charging this stuff is the problem. I have a phone and a tablet. I charge the tablet once or twice a week. The phone everyday. If get a smart watch, i hope it would last longer without a charge than the tablet. Having a mess of wires is not fun. It would be great if all devices had wireless charging and there was one giant wireless charging pad.

Connectivity needs to provide added value instead of merely being a ticked specification box. That toothbrush is the perfect example of the latter. The ease of use measure mentioned above is more subjective but secondary. A device can be simple or complex, automated or manual, open or closed but the decision on whether you use it always comes back to if it personally provides you value over a non-connected device or rival product.

I don't like having more than one main system... maybe a phone.. if I could get it down from Phone & Tablet down to an iOS Phablet, I would..

I hesitate at some other connected devices.. I don't like having a ton of items to charge day-in and day-out.. it's a big detractor for me...

I think everyone has a different concept of what's enough, and will naturally only go so far. Being connected with a device should never feel forced, or you'll stop doing it.

In my opinion, "too much" is when your connected life becomes more complex or difficult instead of easier.

When a task that was "press this" becomes "turn on device a. Enter password A. Turn on device b. Enter password B. Press this, then this, then this. Adjust this. Activate this. Sync that...and so forth", it's too much.

This may be heresy on a tech site, but I think we've sacrificed a lot of simplicity in the name of the next shiny gadget.

This became evident to me in my car. My usual process was: Start car, connect smartphone to head unit via BT. Open driving app. Set music playlist. Press play. I finally got tired of doing this so often, so I just loaded up a low profile flash drive with music and plugged it in to the head unit. No more "connected" hassle; just music.

I realize that this is just one example, but sometimes a simpler-albeit less "awesome"-way can by better.

For me, a good gauge of being too connected is: If I have all of my devices in their typical places (my wrist, pocket, desk, etc), and I get a notification, how many times will something buzz? If it's more than 2-3, I'm too connected at that moment.

I don't think there can be too connected until it starts making simple things even more complex, then it just becomes overkill. I am of the belief that something like a smartwatch may be a bit of overkill. We use watches to tell time and as jewellery pieces. That shouldn't change.

From our current state, it does seem like it'll be there is going to be too much connectivity. However, ask again in 20 years and people will wonder how we lived the way we do today. For example, it's like imaging now how we lived before the Internet? How did we find phone numbers and directions and research? It seems absurd. In 20 years, people will wonder how we could live without having real-time monitoring of our heartrate, blood pressure, caloric burn, caloric intake, or automatic locking or unlocking of our house upon departure or approach, automatic grocery orders on an as-needed basis, etc... We'll get used to it and then we'll get dependent on it.

Ok, I think I must be a little old school, but I am worried about companies getting more and more access to everything I do. Do I really want Apple/Google/Samsung to know how often I buy eggs and milk? What about how often I exercise, what temperature I keep my house at, what shows I'm watching, etc? It seriously freaks me out.

It is too much when it gets to the point where someone can hack your account and take over your life. Locking your house doors remotely and changing your temperature and controlling appliances is too much in my opinion. Yeah it seems like a convenience but one you are hacked someone could theoretically take over your home remotely. They could run up your utility bills, cause damage to the home by messing with the temperature, or disarm your alarms and walk through the front door like they live there and do God knows what.

To be honest, I don't think there is a "too much". I think that it comes down to accessibility and organization. If I have an Android smartwatch, Google Glass and an Android phone all cross-communicating in an efficient manner then, I'm able to simplify my life based on my current state/condition. Adding more functionality such as remote vehicle access, biometric tracking, home automation and other automated tasks is the next step for consumers. I already look for it whenever I buy new things for my home. Lights, thermostat controls, appliances, locks, cameras, etc. I love the idea of being more connected.

It really comes down to question of whether each gadget serves a unique purpose. We all have enough things to keep charged and updated. If I can't see a clear use case in which the gadget in question is superior to what I'm using now, I won't add it to my tech wish list.

I completely agree. Some people will argue that "nobody NEEDS a smartwatch or Bluetooth speaker," but that's not the point. Nobody needed a smartphone 20 years ago; we got along just fine without them, but they can make many tasks in life much easier.

If being connected takes time and effort vs a reward of making something easier than it probably isn't worth it. Basically, I'm agreeing with you.