However, it also begs the question of where the Internet of Things (IoT) is in all of this. I blow hot and cold on the whole idea of everything being connected. It always seems to be happening far more in conferences than in vending machines at rail stations and fridges in homes that I ever frequent. Sometimes I'm convinced my wine bottle will tell me where it came from, what grapes were used and how I could order more. Other times I'm equally convinced that all I have to do is read the label on the back of the bottle and then log on and press a button to order some more. Does the "thing" actually have to talk to me to make me want to buy it again?
And while we're at it, if the IoT is such a big thing, why do I need a button from Amazon to get some new detergent and fabric conditioner? If everything is connected, shouldn't a bottle of Persil and Lenor be on their way to me the moment I'm getting low? If the tech is too expensive to put in bottles, shouldn't the washing machine be measuring how much I have used and warning me that I need to click to place an order right away or the sports kit will go unwashed this weekend?
This brings me to another question, and this one is the most puzzling for me. Forgive me if you're a start-up with an app that does this, and I have yet to come across you, but why on earth don't supermarkets bring in an IoT of their own? I certainly have not come across a feature offered by the major supermarkets that lets you snap a brand name or scan in a barcode to add it to your shopping list. If I have missed it, I apologise to that retailer, but then would simply ask the same question of those who have yet to allow me to build a smart shopping list with them. Why should it always be a case of going through a million products they think i might like and i've bought before without allowing me to have already selected items at the press of a camera or QR scanner button during the week.
The example used in all this is always the wrong one. People talk about running out of loo roll or milk. These are pretty pressing requirements and are easily solved by being very non-digital and walking to the corner shop. The IoT won't change this, but for general produce, why not have a camera function to add a pic of a label or scan of a barcode to be added to a list stored within a supermarket's app? Why the need to treat each item as a separate entity that needs to be ordered immediately from Amazon? If the product is that urgent, can you wait another day for it, or is it simpler to pop to the shop to get coriander and cumin for tonight's curry? Obviously, a Dash button works well for products you're used to buying on the own such as printer ink or DvDs, but I'd suggest most produce falls in to two camps. It's either so vital you've got to run to the corner store or it can wait for the weekly shop.
So as far as I'm concerned, while gurus conjure up more exciting IoT scenarios that rarely grip me, the supermarkets are the ones that need to react to the Dash button with a kind of IoT of their own that allows products to be added to shopping lists by photo or scan one item at a time, rather than focus on a button that order one item immediately.
This column was previously published in the London Blog on September 6, 2016.