back to article Intel seeks connected home for Atom

Vodafone and Intel have banded together to push Atom chips, and Vodafone connectivity, into cars, fridges and toasters – the humans already being adequately equipped. The two companies reckon it is the complexity of development that is stopping manufacturers connecting up our washing machines and cookers, and will thus release …

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Frankly...

If there was a need for this kind of crap, we'd have it by now. What is the point in controlling/monitoring your washing machine/dishwasher remotely when you still have to walk up to it to put the clothes/dishes in and take them out?

In any case, what on earth does an x86 bring to this application that a much cheaper, much simpler ARM7/ARM9/Cortex-M3 does not? Hell, a 6502 would be more than adequate in most cases!

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power management

Dishwasher and washing machine are arguably the most practical household appliances to be networked. They draw relatively large power for relatively short spurts. And there is generally some flexibility in when these machines need to complete their cycle by,

Network power load-balancing applications could save the utilities a great deal of money by optimising the schedule of domestic appliance cycles against real-time power consumption on the network. Flattening peak loads to near base load.

Utilities savings could be passed on to consumers through load-aware pricing plans.

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FAIL

Umm...

Why would I want to put a $40+ Atom chip inside a $20 white goods appliance like a toaster, or even a $200 appliance like a washing machine? I can't think of any use case for this which adds end use value which justifies any significant price increase.

If you are going to do this then a fully integrated ARM-based SoC, which are commonly available for $5 - $10 would make far more sense.

>> the complexity of development that is stopping manufacturers connecting up our washing machines and cookers

I think they'll find its (1) the lack of an actual use case that end customers care about, and therefore (2) the lack of desire of consumers to actually pay for it.

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Go

Almost there.....

Our cooker has a mini-computer to allow us to program the oven (it's quite smart, it can be set to defrost a joint, cook the food at a certain time, then drop the temp to keep it warm until we get home), our washing machine can be programmed to the eyeballs (so many options it's silly), and so can our dishwasher, it would seem a trivial task to network them together provided a common interface can be designed. Then the lot can be presented out via your home router to allow you to check over the Web or re-program if you're going to be home late - very Jetsons!. What is needed is a neat standard for a plug-in card that does all the linking, maybe a bit like the old plug-in cards for printers that turned them into networked print servers. As long as it's a standard - the problem with printers was all the manufacturers ran their own incompatible cards. Has anyone mentioned this to Sky/BT, I'm not sure they'd like to lose out to Voda on this?

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Megaphone

Marquis, Viscount, Earl...take your pick

"It might seem counterintuitive for your dishwasher to have its own mobile phone when you've got a perfectly good ADSL connection locally, but if it means that the least technically literate individual can use it..."

...and be charged for a phone call!

If it can't be controlled via the ADSL connection (or equivalent fixed monthly subscription offering) then I say nay, nay and thrice nay.

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Paying for a phone call?

Being charged for a phone call?

Where do you live!? I haven't paid for a phone call in years. I pay for having the line, yes, but I don't know anybody who pays for individual phone calls any more. That's so 1990....

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Hint

Vodafone

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Why not use powerline networking?

I'm usually sceptical of powerline because I'd rather walk around the house with my laptop, for example, but in the case of a washer, fridge, microwave or cooker that doesn't apply.

Not that I really see the point of all this anyhow, but I'm sure someone will want it.

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Anonymous Coward

Look at it this way

Because that would actually cause more waves to be kicked into the ether and hence more interference, for less gain. Other than that it's not a bad idea.

This sort of thing you'd probably better do with zigbee, bluetooth, wifi, or even just adding an ethernet plug to the back of the device. OTOH, that doesn't allow this operator to reap a nice steady revenue stream from subscriptions people once get then blithely forget ("uh, I'm paying $sum a month for my fridge? I'd forgotten all about that!") perhaps even long after the device'd died and gone to the scrapheap, especially likely among the targeted tech-illiterate, for a service nobody actually needs.

Me, I thinks this sort of "innovation" is a bit too cynical to accept from a telco. And why is chipzilla so pathetically eager to push this chip that isn't even particularly suited to the task?

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Megaphone

Vodafone?

"Hello, this is a message from your toaster, we're all out of sliced bread. Warning: Because your GPS informs you are on a carribean beach, the roaming charges for this call will be <£100 "

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I was going to say....

.... but why ?

But then so has everybody else.

The only thing I can think of that makes this idea a winner is fault repairing.

If the manufacturer can "see" what is wrong before the repair man comes out, in theory, he will haver the correct part, knows what to do and it should be quicker / cheaper.

But then again, how often do white goods actually break down... ?

P.

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Anonymous Coward

"how often do white goods actually break down..."

How often does anyone have them fixed is another question

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yes but

I'f youve got a pc in it it will have cost so much you won't be able to afford a new one!

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But

IF this ever came to pass it would have an ARM or even just a PIC in it and NOT a mobile link. For that matter the tracker device in my motorhome has GPS/mobile link and doesn't cost that much.

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do we forget so easily?

The trouble that Talkie Toaster caused on Red Dwarf?

Stop this nonsense now, before it is too late!

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FAIL

A pointless exercise?

Well, others have criticised the choice of an x86 CPU already, so I guess there's no need for me to do so, the point has been made.

Have Intel been living under a rock this past month? Why on earth would I want to be able to control my washing machine from another part of the house?

Okay, perhaps the idea is to be able to control it over the Internet, yes? More plausible, I suppose they'll be making clothes that can be remote controlled too, so that my shirts and trousers get up, walk downstairs and put themselves in the washing machine.

That should be fun. "What could *possibly* go wrong?!" as Keith Packard would say.

But wait, I've got, for now, a single public IPv4 address. And a router with only 65536 ports. How were they going to do this again? We're supposed to beg and grovel to IANA for a /8 so we don't have to carry our clothes to the washing machine? Too late.

I guess they could implement IPv6 for this. Yes, we have a whole /56 here … via a tunnel though, since our ISP is stuck thinking RFC791 is state-of-the-art. There is only one consumer ISP in Australia that I know offers IPv6 to its customers, with a second rumoured to start offering it.

If this is what they're planning for our consumer goods, I wonder how they're going to handle being stuck behind a few layers of carrier NAT?

Never mind that the exercise is pointless anyway.

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Sounds good

If they come up with something that means my clothes can walk from the middle of my bedroom floor to the washing machine, get themselves washed, then walk to the ironing board to get automatically ironed, and walk to the wardrobe, then I will definitely sign up for it. Until then, the only conceivable use for a connected washing machine is that it texts me to say it is finished, but I usually notice when it stops making a noise, and if I'm too far away to hear it, then I've got better things to do, and it can wait until I get back.

Or maybe I could log into the fridge and get it to send some food to the microwave, and then to my bed. I doubt that will happen any time soon either.

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Anonymous Coward

Here's one ...

"Have Intel been living under a rock this past month? Why on earth would I want to be able to control my washing machine from another part of the house?"

So you know when it's finished without having to interrupt whatever you're doing to go check.

Sure, there's a bunch of stuff that can wrong with this sort of idea, but it seems a lot of self-proclaimed intelligent people here are refusing to find any good.

As for economic arguments. Well, you could apply them to the PC as well.

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Oh Yes

"So you know when it's finished without having to interrupt whatever you're doing to go check."

So, do you need a full x86 PC installed in your washer to do that?

I don't think so.

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