This week in the "semi-cool at first glance before realizing it's both unnecessary and suspiciously invasive" Amazon gadget roundup: the Dash Smart Shelf, a scale that is apparently neither dashing nor particularly smart.
At least less depressing than unintentional(?) Hitler mustaches, union-busting, health and safety violations, and PrimeCoin. As reviewed today by Wired's Lauren Goode, the Dash Smart Shelf is essentially a cheap scale connected to your Amazon account set to reorder whatever item you rest atop it once the scale lightens to a specified weight.
"Like all of Amazon’s Dash products, which are linked to the company’s Dash Replenishment Service (DRS for short), the shelf is supposed to be smart enough to know when you’re running low on whatever you might find on Amazon," explains Goode. "It senses when the load is getting too light and automatically re-ups without you having to do anything."
Never (hypothetically) run out of toilet paper again — How is this better, or more convenient, than simply keeping track of your shelf-stable items, paper goods, and / or pet food for replenishing? Especially when prices fluctuate all the time (especially on sites like Amazon), so you're never quite sure if you're actually saving any money? These are all very good questions, and we're gonna bet none of the answers will satisfy or surprise you.
Not so smart after all — As it turns out, even though the Smart Shelf currently comes in small, medium, and large size options (each priced at $19.99), certain bulk products (such as the aforementioned toilet paper) don't always fit entirely on the scale, which makes it difficult to properly time reordering. Not only that, but the sensor can be triggered if you accidentally remove an item for too long.
Once the replacement item order is placed, you only have 24-hours to make changes. After that, it's non-refundable. As Amazon Dash director, David Jackson, told Wired, "if the customer puts other things on the Shelf, the Shelf won’t know what that product is. It can only read the weight." Taken all together, and that's a very easy way to unintentionally spend $25 on a bundle of paper towels.
Want people to know how quickly you're running out of TP? — And then there's the whole issue of privacy. Repeat after us for the thousandth time: nothing in Big Tech ever comes for free. Hell, it rarely ever comes for cheap, either. Connecting your pantry or baby changing station directly to the Bezos hive-mind should sound as disconcerting as we just made it.
Sure, a Dash Smart Shelf might save you precious minutes on everyday item purchases, but honestly, just put a reminder on your phone. Or even, dare we say it, a print calendar / organizer. Or, if you must automate, simply use Amazon’s own product subscriptions.