World Consumer Rights Day: Consumers speak on #SmartProducts

March 15, 2019

15 March is World Consumer Rights Day, observed to uphold the rights of all consumers and an opportunity to raise voice against market practices and social injustices that sabotage consumer rights. The 35th president of the United States of America, John F Kennedy sent a special message to the US Congress on March 15, 1962, where he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights, becoming the first leader to do so.  Keeping with this year’s theme “Trusted Smart Products” we spoke to a few digital geeks about their views on the latest smart products available in the market today and their feedback as consumers.

Binoy Xavier Joy, technology evangelist, binoyxavier.com

The smart products you use: I use LIFX smart LED light bulb, Google Home line of smart voice assistants, Amazon Echo Dot speaker and for the security of my workspace, I use Mi Home security camera. Then there is the Google Chromecast dongle connected to my TV helping me stream video wirelessly from all my mobile devices. Fitbit Alta HR fitness tracker has become an integral part of my daily fitness routines.

You recommend:  The voice assistants are the new cool. If you’re interested in setting up your own smart home, I would recommend starting with the Google Home or Amazon Echo line of smart speaker hardwares. Just get a Google Home Mini or an Amazon Echo Dot, which won’t cost you more than INR 4000 to start with. The market is ripe with smart products that are certified to work well with these Google and Amazon-branded smart voice assistants, which also act as a hub for all the other connected smart products to work in sync. Get a smart bulb, smart plug, and a smart camera to set it up across your home. I would suggest checking the curated section on Amazon India for all the popular and trending smart home products https://amzn.to/2HhxLLm

How have the smart products helped you? Being someone who likes to live on the cutting edge of technology, it’s safe to say that my investment is paying off. I have become more productive. My always up-to-date voice assistants are ready to take on any query I put forward and help get things done quickly. The tasks that earlier demanded constant nagging now happen automatically. In technology we trust.

Merits and Demerits:  Life has become easier and convenient now. Be it turning on the coffee maker from your bed or unlocking your door automatically as you approach, they let you connect and control the smart products from anywhere in the world. At the same time, there is a constant security threat of hackers trying to gain access and take control without our knowledge. Also, there is no pro-privacy owing to the fact that the prying eyes are always upon us. I hope, on World Consumer Rights Day, smart home companies take notice and introduce features that uphold the spirit of right to privacy.

Mohammed Ali, technical solution architect, Sprint Telecom

The smart products you use:  I use Amazon Echo, Google Home assistant, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Sony VR.

You recommend. On the Smart Home solution the Amazon Echo is best it recognises the Indian accent pretty well. On the Smart Watch front I suggest Samsung Gear S3. It’s stylish and quite robust in nature when compared with the rest.

How have they helped you?  They have greatly simplified a lot of tasks. I don’t have to open Google to search about anything because I just speak to the virtual assistant Alexa. I have started keeping a track of my health even more closely than before. My smartwatches give me a glimpse of the entire days schedule the first thing in the morning so that I plan my day better.

Merits and Demerits: The smart products make ones’ tasks simpler and on the flip side each product has a few concerns such as with Amazon Alexa there could be security issues. With smartwatches their battery life could be a concern. While on the gaming side frequently using the virtual reality (VR) too often one can get migraines.

Noor Zahira, student, Mount Carmel College

The smart products you use:  Smart phones, smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, fitness trackers, iPad etc.

You recommend: One plus 6T, FitBit watch, Alexa

How have they helped you: Gadgets like the Fitness Tracker have helped me maintain a healthy life by tracking the number of calories burned or the number of steps made in a day. Smartphones are a bonus for bloggers like me, we can go live, post pictures and write blogs to keep our followers engaged, all this at our fingertips.

Merits and Demerits: Smart products have made us smart, we stay updated on the latest technology devices. However mobile phones have made our lives stressful leading to health problems such as sleep deprivation, early age heart ailments and lesser life expectancy, and decreased interactions with fellow human beings. Security risks like leaking of photos, videos and even texts for that matter, has bought greed in our lives to stay updated with the modern gadgets and also to maintain a “so-called” class and status.

Samhita Kanthavar, associate software engineer, Accenture

The smart products you use: A fitness tracker, Amazon Kindle Google Home Mini

You recommend: I would recommend using a fitness tracker since it is not always easy to afford a pricey Fitbit! The market has grown to provide great alternatives that do not dent your savings. An e-reader like an Amazon Kindle is a great idea to do your bit to stay green. The Google Home Mini is a powerful speaker and an engaging assistant. It is easy to use and is really sleek handy design. If you have a pricier budget go completely into consumer convenience market to invest in smart IoT products that fit smoothly into the patterns of your daily life by simplifying routine tasks.

How have they helped you: Technology helps people do amazing things. It is what makes us superhuman and comes as close as one can to be living sci-fi realities. Smart technology is where our future lies. I hope to be able to live in a smart world built on a technologically balanced ecosystem in the very near future.

Merits and Demerits. Being a part of the digital community definitely teaches us how important it is to learn to balance our dependence on these products. We should be appreciative of the inventions for reducing human effort. Over dependency on smart products can make us lazy and put us into the mode of minimal use of the intellectual resources that we are gifted with.

Tanveer A.K, sales professional

The smart products you use: I use iPhone, iMac, Google Chromecast, smart watch and health application called the Strava.

You recommend: iPhone, iMac, Google Chromecast

How have they helped you? I am a very health conscious person, hence it becomes very important for me to plan and schedule and also motivate myself for physical activities. Hence I use the health application called Strava that helps me keep a tab on the day to day physical activities of my friends too. In a way I can get into a healthy competition with them in the choice of food we eat and the number of calories that we burn every day.

Merits and Demerits.  There are more pros than cons with regard to the smart products.  With the advancement in technology, a lot of physical labour has come down. Brochures of 10 colleges can be easily downloaded or looked at from smartphones without manually going to the colleges and standing in the queue. However if technology is not supervised correctly it can be very harmful for the kids such as they can easily be exposed to the dangerous games like Blue Whale challenge and now the latest Momo Suicide Challenge. Promotional videos on these challenges could be easily made available to  kids if the technology is not strictly supervised by the parents.

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