Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too (Much) Smart: Meters, Grids, Cars, Phones

"Smart" in the electronics sector generally connotes a device with a processor and some built-in communications, though sometimes it's just meant to convey coolness. But as the media increasingly links "smart" with "dangerous", marketers may need to find another strategy soon.

Of course, this doesn't bode well for consumer adoption of Smart Meters and the Smart Grid. Angst is bubbling up in the ranks of those who leave comments below cautionary and increasingly inflammatory online articles. For example, here's a surprisingly coherent entry found beneath a recent post on looming cyber issues with "smart" cars:
If we're not careful, we'll end up changing the definition of the word "smart". "Smart" = dumb enough to be cracked and hacked. We'll have this issue with smart phones, smart cars, the smart grid, smart appliances, not to mention our regular computers.
He's right of course, and that's a big part of the challenge, along with the media's desire to document and propagate this assertion, and drive fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) deep into the mass market.

Like successful TV shows that eventually Jump the Shark (wander too far from their original concept), all marketing fads also eventually run out of steam, after which point they become comical if not pitiful. This will eventually happen (if it hasn't started already) with the prefix "smart" automatically placed in front of every new gadget and appliance.

And when that happens if not sooner, we might want to find a new term for what we now call Smart Grid. It's been called other things before; another name isn't going to hurt. And no, I don't think "Super Smart Grid" will do.

Photo credit: Ivan Walsh on

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