Nowadays, everything is smart. You can hardly get anything that doesn’t include the word smart. Okay, that’s what marketers can do, but what makes a smart device smart?

The undoubted fact is that science has no exact answer to what makes something smart. It is not really possible to define what’s the exact difference between an ‘analog’ and a ‘smart device.’

Of course, the kind of tasks that took 50 years of computers to master have moved into our everyday lives today, and they can even make our lives smarter. But will we really be smarter with them?

Smart everything

In fact, perhaps the best way to grasp this smart thing is to endow average devices with features that weren’t present until now. For example, we could expand the functionality of an average waist belt with, say, motion-sensing, fitness features.

Another question is whether we will be smarter at all through smart devices, or whether the device itself will become smart by us humans using functions that we have not done so far. In any event, it is clear that the device itself and the user referred to each other in the process. Perhaps it can be stated that the way it is used makes the device smart.

Our first smart use item was the smartphone. Over the years, so many features have become added that it’s hard to follow. Looking at the daily activities of the users, it can also be stated that most of these features are not even used. Or if so, even to a negligible extent. Then, can a smartphone that you use exclusively to make phone calls and send SMS be called a smartphone? Definitely from a manufacturer and technical point of view, but not from a user point of view. But most of us wouldn’t be able to live with a Nokia 3310 (again). We got used to the multifunctionality of the phone. It takes just one tap to entertain ourselves by watching videos or playing online games like rainbow riches.

Let us not forget that our everyday tools will be smarter only by us, by human knowledge. Then later on, maybe we can be smarter by them. Isn't it thought-provoking? An interesting question after 50-100 years will be how society at the time will judge our then-historic, perhaps “electronic revolution” era.

The simple question today is "what came first, the hen or the egg?" but it may be that the question will become "what came first, man or smart device?"

Useful and useless smart devices

Obviously, the above line of reasoning should not be taken so seriously. Manufacturers, developers, and marketers don't take it that seriously either. There are, of course, developments and ideas that are really useful and, with the help of science, we can endow average tools with additional functionalities that can really help us.

One example is the smart walking stick, which is equipped with sensors that log the user's route, speed, acceleration. And based on the data extracted, they are also able to determine if the user has fallen. It’s just icing on the cake that in such a case, taking advantage of the built-in GPS and communication capabilities, the smart walking stick will notify either a relative or the emergency service that help is needed.

And of course, there are a number of other useful innovations that can be used to make a device smart. For example, different types of smart thermometers come in handy. These modern, not only digital, but smart thermometers already send a complete fever diary to the smartphone associated with it. I’m not saying we weren't able to live without it 20 years ago, but if we already have one, why not use it?

But there are still plenty of smart objects of use that can fall into the useful category. Examples are the smart stick called Ariadné for the blind. Or the smart medicine box, which indicates if we have not taken our current daily medicine. These ordinary smart things may be a little astonishing, but they undoubtedly have a big potential.

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