Smalt smart salt dispenser
The Smalt connects to Amazon Alexa and is set to cost $200Smalt

Here it is. The apex of the final corner technology took before it threw itself off the road and into a pit of despair. Despair, smartphone apps, mood lighting and voice assistants.

This is Smalt, a salt dispenser. It sits on the dinner table or kitchen worktop like any other salt dispenser, faithfully depositing piles of sodium chloride into a slide-out tray.

But, as a certain supermarket might say, this isn't just any salt dispenser. It's an internet-connected, smartphone app-controlled, Alexa-ready smart salt dispenser.

This is also what happens when a startup spends three years doggedly working on a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

It may have been conceived as a smart way to measure how much salt you are consuming, via the app. But as the Internet of Things and smart home technology boomed, so too did this startup's desire to stay ahead of the innovation curve. There's a mood light capable of shining in many colours, a Bluetooth speaker and compatibility with Alexa, Amazon's voice assistant, for when your hands are full but you need salt, stat.

But wait, a TV advert might say, there's more. A "premium speaker" means you can bring music to the dinner table. However, with a battery life of just four hours, regular use will mean regular recharging of your salt dispenser. Welcome to 2017, where books, watches, cigarettes and now salt dispensers need recharging on a regular basis.

Enjoying music while you dine with friends is perfectly pleasant. But nice restaurants don't put the piano on your table, so why would you put a speaker there, drowning out what the person across from you is trying to say and sitting perilously close to the gravy? Music while you dine should come from the corner of the room, politely filling the background and only stepping up to the plate (but not your dinner plate) when there are awkward silences to fill and the cutlery-on-china needs drowning out.

The Smalt's glowing colour ring is claimed to enhance your dining experience, but from the marketing material this is just a shot at mood lighting that has badly missed the mark.

Smart lights from Philips and Ikea transform a room because their light covers every bright surface. Walls are painted with light, kitchen cupboards float above a pool of colour and the television is propped away from the wall by a brilliant cushion of soft yellow or vodka bar blue.

The Smalt, on the other hand, is just a light, like the blue ring of an Amazon Echo. And because it's in the middle of the dining table there's nothing but the occasional outstretched, nacho-grabbing arm for it to shine off.

We appreciate that Smalt's aim is to help people live a healthier life by monitoring their salt consumption, and that's fine. But by jumping on every tech bandwagon they could find, the company has ended up with a $200 (£150) product that just doesn't know what it is.