You're Overthinking It


I recently moved into a new home and saw the above device on the side of the fridge. I had no idea what its purpose was, so I just let it sit there for a few weeks while we settled. After most of the more pressing work of moving was done, I took another look at this weird little thing that had been on the side of the fridge. On one side it has a GE logo and says SmartWaterTM. On the other, it says "Reset-Hold Button 5 Secs" and repeats that phrase in French. On the front it has a button with "Reset" embossed upon it and a single LED light above it. On the back is the magnet that was holding it to the fridge.

What the heck is this, I thought to myself.

I googled GE SmartWater and was sorely disappointed. Not that I didn't discover what it is, but disappointed in what I found. It's a "magnetic filter reminder light". That's right, GE produces a plastic-encased circuit board with timing logic to blink a light so you don't forget to change your water filter. It's not telling you based on usage, which would actually be useful - it just counts down the time from when press reset. Does anyone remember that old device that tracked time and let you set a reminder for a future date?

A calendar. Just use a calendar. Instead, GE thinks it's a good use of resources to design, manufacture, and ship this device with all of its filter systems. It requires two AAA batteries, as well. A calendar doesn't. What will blink at me so I know to replace the batteries in my "magnetic filter reminder light"?

Why in the world would a company do this? It only adds cost to the product and doesn't benefit the consumer. Everyone either has a calendar or numerous devices (computer, smartphone, etc) that feature one. We don't need another thing to keep up with and supply with batteries.

My takeaway point for this rant: Don't build shit just because you can.

If there is no benefit in creating something, then just don't. It's not very hard to restrain your company and save time and money by not doing something that no one asked for.