Responsibility and the Internet of Things

The vast majority of our tech is designed to have a short shelf-life and be impossible for consumers to fix themselves. For a sustainable future, Method ECD Helen Le Voi says this needs to change

Whether we’re going vegan, cycling to work, or swapping plastic-coated giftwrap for brown paper, many of us are examining our daily decisions in order to reduce our impact on the environment.

However, when it comes to our IoT-connected products, we find ourselves in a dilemma. While some products are designed to decline in performance after a few years, others are made obsolete when businesses withdraw the technical support that the products need to function. Without any desire on our part, we are forced by manufacturers to jettison devices knowing they will end up in landfill and their replacements will exacerbate industrial emissions.

The issue of product obsolescence is something most consumers are familiar with, thanks to their reliance on Apple and Samsung devices. Many of us have had the experience of mobiles and tablets that are physically still serviceable but have ceased to work effectively because they are no longer supported by up-to-date operating systems.


The rollout of IoT takes this to a new level because it has spawned the launch of hundreds of products and devices that provide little visibility as to their future lifespan. Time and again, consumers have bought IoT-enabled smart speakers, smart hubs and security cameras only to find them rendered useless when the company behind them goes bust, sells out, isn’t making a return on investment, or finds itself having to adapt to changes in the broader IoT ecosystem.