Technology often makes our day-to-day existence less stressful and more pleasurable, and this is especially true for smart home devices. From autonomous vacuum cleaners, smart fridges and voice-activated assistants to do our bidding, there’s no shortage of ways we’re getting more reliant on the technology gods.
However, sometimes the relationship between man and machine can go awry. Reddit, 4Chan, and other social media platforms are chock full of smart home fails – times where our devices, simply following the rules, have failed us in miserable and hilarious ways.
If you’re seeking your daily dose of laughter, seek no further, as we have compiled six human-smart home fails. Check them out in order of least disastrous to most disastrous, starting with a classic trolling of Amazon Alexa on South Park.
South Park trolls its fans
Disaster level: low
You would think that after 20 seasons, South Park would be running out of ideas. But the show seems to be just as current as ever, thanks in large part to Amazon’s Alexa and Alexa’s customers, who got trolled in a major way during the Season 21 premiere last fall.
South Park writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker integrated Alexa into their program. The result was confusing for some viewers and hilarious for others.
In the episode, after proclaiming that smart devices are stupid, South Park character Eric Cartman gets a smartphone and an Amazon Echo speaker.
Cartman’s interaction with Alexa starts innocently enough, with a request to Alexa to set an alarm and tell a joke. “Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m.,” he tells the device, to which Alexa responds with “OK, setting an alarm for 7 a.m.”
“I have an erroneous alarm set for 7am and a set of hairy balls on my shopping list.”
In true Cartman fashion, however, the directives soon turn into inappropriate requests. Cartman tells Alexa to add “scrotum bags” and other not suitable for work (NSFW) items to his shopping list, prompting Alexa to respond with, “OK, adding scrotum bags to your shopping list” while Cartman cackles.
The real joke was on viewers, however, who were surprised that Cartman’s voice on the TV activated their own Alexa devices, causing an echo as Alexa spoke both on TV to Cartman and in their homes to them. Even more surprising was the host of inappropriate items that were added to their shopping lists.
One Twitter user posted a video that shows his Alexa answering various commands, such as responding with a joke after being prompted to do so and altering the TV watcher’s shopping list with nonsense.
“@SouthPark nailed it tonight. In other news I have an erroneous alarm set for 7am and a set of hairy balls on my shopping list. #alexa,” wrote @scottbarto.
You can watch the full episode here.
Happily ever after… or not
Disaster Level: Low-to-Medium
Whether it be through a simple Microsoft Word document recovery or by backing up our work in the cloud, there’s no shortage of ways technology is helping us save our data. What we don’t love is the ways in which smart TVs back up data we don’t necessarily want saved, and even worse, displays them for our significant others to see.
One consumer thought it would be a wise idea to look at adult images and videos on his girlfriend’s TV while she was out with her friends. To be fair, he didn’t look up this content on her device, but instead plugged in his USB stick and examined the explicit content (presumably for research purposes) on the TV.
Smart TVs back up data we don’t necessarily want saved
Much to his chagrin, the man later discovered that preview thumbnails of the files he opened later appeared on the TV’s “recently played” section. He moved with haste, deleting the thumbnails, but the uncertainty of whether those preview files would show up again on the device’s history led him to seek wisdom on a help chat site.
“I’m in a bit of a pickle and would appreciate any help or advice,” he wrote.
We can only hope that the man did not take the first piece of advice he received: “Have a good look at yourself,” and “‘accidentally smash the TV on the ground.”
Surprises from a smart fridge
Disaster level: medium
One of the hottest home items is the Samsung Smart Hub Refrigerator. The company says the fridge is an all-inclusive tech mammoth that gives you updates on when your groceries go bad and allows the entire family to shop on the fridge. It can also play music, video, and much more on a touch screen in front of the fridge that looks like an iPad.
Turns out, it can also do more than just display that lasagna recipe.
A fridge owner got much more than he bargained for when he discovered that the Family Hub he brought home from the store had been hacked. He found the Hub riddled with penis doodles and messages of a sexual nature, such as “see you tonight XX.” The doodles were casually shown under the fridge owner’s schedule as if it was an ordinary element of his day-to-day life.
It is unclear what exactly brought these images about, but even the greatest smart home devices out there have vulnerabilities that allow hackers to make a mockery out of you.
A new form of sex-ed
Disaster level: medium
In one pseudo-disastrous moment caught on film, a young boy was talking to Alexa through the Amazon Echo, hoping to play his favorite song titled Digger, Digger on the device. His parents were capturing their adorable interaction with Alexa on video. Things took an unexpected turn, however, in what could be billed as an episode of “Alexa goes wild.”
“Alexa, Stop! Stop! Stop!”
Out of nowhere, Alexa responds to the boy’s request by saying that she has detected a request for porn and blurts “hot chick amateur sexy” and “dildo” before the adults in the room yell, “Alexa, Stop! Stop! Stop!”
All ended well, as the parents’ shock quickly turned into laughter, avoiding what could’ve been a very confusing conversation with their young one. The child remained clueless as to what was going on. The video soon went viral, garnering more than 10 million views.
Disaster level: medium-to-high
We all know that Roomba robot vacuum cleaners can do the work for us. But what happens when Roombas run over something they shouldn’t and track it everywhere?
In August 2016, Jesse Newton’s pup Evie went number two after he and his wife went to bed, leaving a manageable disaster to be cleaned in the morning. However, Newton’s Roomba turned that small mess into a colossal one.
The gadget, set to clean the floors nightly at 1:30 a.m., ran over the poop and tracked it everywhere, which Newton dubbed the “Pooptastrophe” in a hilarious and graphic Facebook post describing the incident that has now been shared more than 350,000 times. The device smeared poop into the rug, the floorboards, and the legs of furniture. It even got on their 4-year-old child, who’s smell of dog poop alerted them to the problem when he crawled into bed with them at 3 a.m.
“Do not, under any circumstances, let your Roomba run over dog poop,” Newton wrote in the Facebook post. “If the unthinkable does happen, and your Roomba runs over dog poop, stop it immediately and do not let it continue the cleaning cycle. Because if that happens, it will spread the dog poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting.
It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids’ toy boxes. If it’s near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25-foot poop trails all over the house. Our lovable Roomba, who gets a careful cleaning every night, looked like it had been mudding. Yes, mudding – like what you do with a Jeep on a pipeline road. But in poop.”
Newton went on to describe the painstaking cleanup that involved, among other things, a bathtub, bleach, a toothbrush, and multiple rolls of paper towels.
Fortunately, the story had a happy ending, as the company offered to replace the Roomba free of cost.
A memorable trip to the afterlife
Disaster level: high
Our culture often celebrates a person’s life and death at a funeral where everyone wears black, offers condolences to the deceased’s family and reminisces on the deceased’s character and achievements.
The mood is somber and subdued – hardly an appropriate place to watch porn. Unfortunately, a “smart” TV in the United Kingdom thought otherwise.
Perhaps the occasional faux pas is the price we pay for making our lives more comfortable.
Four TV screens were set up as part of a funeral showing slides of the man and child who passed away following a car crash. One of these devices was a smart TV, while the other three weren’t. As you have probably guessed by now, the smart TV started showing pornographic material, while the rest of the screens didn’t.
The family of the deceased was not amused by the incident and contacted authorities, who launched an investigation on the matter. It is unclear whether there was any malicious intent in showing adult entertainment at the funeral, but chances are that the smart TV picked up the broadcast by accident via Bluetooth or through a Wi-Fi network.
Whatever the case may be, smart home devices still have a long way to go before avoiding incidents such as these. Perhaps the occasional faux pas is the price we pay for making our lives more comfortable with the aid of technology.