Internet of things or internet of trash?

24 May 2024

Image: © elenabsl/

In the latest episode of For Tech’s Sake, we dig through the tech trash to sort the useful devices from the useless ones.

The internet of things (IoT) allows for a whole host of tech to be created claiming to make our lives easier. But with the growing concern of e-waste and the repercussions that come with inserting a chip in every device, the tech industry must be thoughtful about the hardware it actually creates and what exactly it chooses to make ‘smart’.

In the latest episode of For Tech’s Sake, hosts Jenny Darmody and Elaine Burke dig through the tech pile to sort the useful from the useless. For example, do we really need another ‘AI companion’ that turns out to be just another app that can do things our phones already can? What about a new head-worn computer that “is incapable of simply letting [a user] type words in a document without experiencing some kind of histrionic user interface confusion”?

However, it’s not all about tech for tech’s sake. There are many examples of IoT devices that have proven to be of benefit to the world, while smart sensors have enhanced previously ‘dumb’ devices to make them better fit for purpose.

For example, Smart Dublin is an initiative that involves tech companies, researchers and citizens working to improve public services and enhance quality of life. One of the projects that is part of Smart Dublin is smart ring buoys, in which 600 low-cost sensors were installed in ring buoys in order to alert water safety officers when ring buoys are tampered with or go missing.

Another project creates smart bins, which have sensors to provide real-time information to the city council waste management operations teams about each bin’s capacity and how full it is. The sensors are also able to show which bins have not reached their capacity but are obstructed, typically with bulky items such as a pizza box or broken umbrellas.

As well as sorting out the good tech from the trash tech, Darmody and Burke also heard from Dirk Pesch, a professor of computer science at University College Cork and the director of SFI Centre for Research Training (CRT).

Pesch discussed the waste problems IoT devices can create in the long run, especially when we overcomplicate things.

Check out the latest episode of the season and subscribe to For Tech’s Sake wherever you get your podcasts. You can also become a Headstuff+ Community member to access bonus episodes of the show.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic