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back to article A lightbulb that does IPv6: You know you want it

Mesh-networking standard ZigBee now has support for IP, allowing embedded devices (from 'leccy meters to lightbulbs) to be directly addressed as long as the addresser is using IPv6. The new extension to the standard, ZigBee IP, has been created at the behest of utilities and will be integrated into the next version of the ZigBee …

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Anonymous Coward

so you really

think that an energy company would like control over 1 light bulb ? and that's going to make a difference to energy consumption when catering for shortages ?

No, I don't want it. Concentrate on something useful for humanity rather than for somebody's ego

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Re: so you really

I have an off-peak circuit which is switched on between midnight and 7am every day. It has storage heaters and an off-peak water heater attached to it. Something like this could allow them to have more granular control over the off-peak devices in their area and avoid a surge in power demand at midnight.

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WTF?

Re: so you really

...and avoid a surge in power demand at midnight.

Huh? Dunno where you live, but I've never heard of a power grid that struggled to meet demand at midnight...

Here's a rolling 24-hour graph of electricity demand in the UK:

http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/Data/Realtime/Demand/demand24.htm

Here's one for California, which is practically the same - peak demand at 9-10pm:

http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html

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Re: so you really

ah 'off peak' leccy -- they've got to flog off all that extra somehow.

I'm always amused that the history of the storage heater is linked to production of fissionable material.

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Devil

Re: so you really

I'm always amused that the history of the storage heater is linked to production of fissionable material.

Storage heaters - the spawn of Satan.

I don't think I've ever come across a more useless heating device except a candle, or maybe a box of matches.

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Re: so you really

>I've never heard of a power grid that struggled to meet demand at midnight...

You will when 4billion connected devices all try and get their updates and reboot at exactly 00:00 every night!

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Black Helicopters

Re: so you really

No, but the government would.

Part of their (science fiction) plan* to decarbonise the UK consists in being able to switch off anything they feel like when the wind doesn't blow or the sun isn't shining (out of their green posteriors).

aka SMART GRID...

*https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/47613/3702-the-carbon-plan-delivering-our-low-carbon-future.pdf

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Re: so you really

Oddly enough, given the space. storage heating actually makes sense: the mistake was to tack it on as an afterthought rather than design it in from the outset.

One of the easiest ways to store energy is as heat, in anything - water, concrete, molten salt or metal - in a more. or less, insulated container. The larger the object is, the longer it can store the heat - loss is proportional to area, but energy is proportional to volume, and this is (part of) the reason why the earth still has a molten core after a billion years or whatever the currently accepted age of it is.

The problem with this method of storage is that dire efficiency of turning the heat back into mechanical or electrical energy. At sane vales of temperature - such that its reasonably safe, its appallingly low.

But if all you want is the heat, then its actually fairly efficient. E.g a municipal block of flats with a swimming pool of hot water under the basement heated to 60-100C contains enough heat to keep the place toasty for several DAYS.

If run off nuclear off peak and using a heat pump, its also the cheapest (in terms of ongoing costs) to run.

Capital costs of course are not so low. you probably want UFH that can use the large area of the floor heat exchanger to leverage quite low working fluid temperatures.

And of course in a municipal context you can also feed the heat bank with other sources of heat - the Danes already have municipal waste burning CHP schemes that provide a little electricity, and a lot of hot water..and small modular nuclear reactors could provide similar.

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FAIL

Re: so you really

You will when 4billion connected devices all try and get their updates and reboot at exactly 00:00 every night!

Well, Mr Anonymous Coward with a silver badge, I'm at a loss to understand what you're going on about.

What 4 billion connected devices are you talking about?

Why do you think these 4 billion devices are all going to reboot at midnight?

Were you once a Y2K "consultant"?

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FAIL

Re: so you really

Don't know what your off-peak circuit is. But I know that ZigBee is desperately trying to survive. After all these years there are just 5 million ZigBee nodes, everywhere. That's hardly a business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so you really

Yep collaborated on a project with the single developer they seemed to have at the time for the product they were using as part of our system. Seemed like a very shoestring operation and though their prices were low there was a reason for it.

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Mushroom

Certainly not acceptable

It's totally unacceptable that any Government or Utility can decide when and which of my appliances to disconnect.

Power and control of people that Stalin, Mao, Hitler couldn't imagine.

It's because of political stupidity that we might be short of Electricity.

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Meh

Depends who is doing it

I tend to agree, but once the tech is there to record it, we can't really stop them changing the price according to demand during the day.

And if they do that, I definitely want to have a box that addresses my power hungry devices (dishwasher, tumble drier) to shut off anything non-essential when the price is high, or preferably wait till it is low to start them.

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Re: Certainly not acceptable

yeah, i mean that light you have in the porch thats on 24/7 much more important than that kid down the streets kidney machine.....

there is a fuckin nazi in the room, but it aint the power comany

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Re: Certainly not acceptable

The kidney machine will have a battery backup. Maybe the light in the porch isn't that important. Mine is on a motion detector / timer switch and turns off after a couple of minutes. Lights in rooms where you are doing things are important though and the children could trip over things and cause themselves serious injuries if the lights were to go off without warning.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Certainly not acceptable

Well maybe the fact that electricity companies would lower your bills if you allowed them to adjust your fridge-freezer cycling a bit would help.

Will you paranoid conspiracy twats please get a fucking life and pay attention. Large companies have been doing this kind of stuff for fucking years to SAVE REAL MONEY. Having cheap, low-power controllers would allow more of it in residential electricity as well. Supporting variable demand costs money and spot prices can get stupidly silly at times when the peaks hit. With controllers in place it becomes more advantageous to use real-time pricing that actually reflects market reality instead of flat rates that encourage everybody to make heavy use at the same time. Electricity isn't like the Internet where demand peaks just slow everything down. Instead you choose between brown-outs and higher prices needed to pay for the construction of more power stations and the operation of power stations that barely get any use.

Political stupidity? You mean giving in to the electorate who've been suckered by campaign groups? Oh, that's clearly all the politicians' fault. Not the electorate's fault at all, no, no, no.

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Childcatcher

Re: Certainly not acceptable@NaughtyHorse

yeah, i mean that light you have in the porch thats on 24/7 much more important than that kid down the streets kidney machine.....

Oooh look everybody! Think of the children! It never occurs to people like you that it is the specific function of the power industry to meet demand, not to produce power when it suits them, or for selected purposes.

"there is a fuckin nazi in the room, but it aint the power comany"

Indeed not. It's you, with your list of "approved" and "non approved" uses for electricity.

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Re: Certainly not acceptable@Ledswinger

"it is the specific function of the power industry to meet demand, not to produce power when it suits them"

That's funny, because I thought that it was the job of the power industry to make money for their shareholders. If the country has enough power at the right times is not important to them. If power plants become old and more expensive to run they are turned off, because turning them off gives better shareholder returns, regardless of power availability. This is the system that was put in place at the privatisation of the power industry.

IMHO that is the root of the reason why there will be insufficient power, not because people are using more. If everyone's consuption had been different and we were now using 1/4 the power, we would probably be in almost the same boat; it wouldn't have been cost-effective to have all the generation that we have now, so much would have been shut down. Then when the remaining ones got old, they probably would've been shut down too, just like is happening now. (Yes, demand leveling certainly helps, but there is only so much you can do; turning on the lights, TV and oven during the day instead of the evening may level things, but since I'm at work then, doesn't help me because then I'd be sitting in the dark going hungry and unable watch celebrities in the jungle and such.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Certainly not acceptable@Ledswinger

The power industry do have to make money for their shareholders, but as they are regulated public utilities that task comes second to any requirements that the regulator may have. It's also a sort of feedback loop, because if the regulator closes them down, they can't make money for their customers.

If there are not enough power stations, it's because the government haven't made sufficient provision to require enough to be built, or made sure that enough have had their planning permission go through. Public utilities want to make these facilities, it's a purely political (in)decision which causes them not to be made.

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Re: Certainly not acceptable

"It's totally unacceptable that any Government or Utility can decide when and which of my appliances to disconnect."

Blow off your electric bill for a couple of months. The utility will decide to disconnect them all

And we did at one time have some widget on our a/c unit that the utility could use to turn it off--we got some sort of discount if they did.

"Power and control of people that Stalin, Mao, Hitler couldn't imagine."

But the neighborhood squirrel could, if only he survived the shock...

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Because the thing that we need is a lightbulb with an internet addressable IP address in a world where consumer/SMB router and firewall solutions either don't address IPv6 at all, are so clunky and inconvenient that you need to be a trained IT professional to use or are so expensive that nobody in the consumer/SMB space can afford it.

Let's do our furnaces and gas-powered fireplaces next. What's could possibly go wrong?

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Agreed.

This sounds like one of those "we've invented it so we can brag" exercises. Within a home, IPv4 on a domestic WLAN would be fine. I'll not be letting utilities or government control my devices either.

At the moment, this is about as attractive as an IPv6 Chocolate Radiator.

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Len
Go

IPv6 supported by many consumer routers now

It must have been some time since you last looked into consumer routers. Many or all of the devices made by Apple, Asus, AVM, Buffalo, Cisco, D-Link, Draytek, Linksys, Motorola, Netgear, Technicolor, TP-Link, Linksys and Zyxel among others support IPv6 out of the box now. If it doesn't come pre-installed, IPv6 compatible firmware upgrades can often be found on their websites.

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Stop

@Len

It must have been some time since you last looked into consumer routers.

And I think you're focussing too much on propaganda. For example; my company bought several DrayTek 2820 routers only a few years ago. Quite expensive critters too, but worth every dime. On my current firmware, 3.3.4, it doesn't provide IPv6 support.

However, the current firmware version is 3.3.7.3 (release 12 October 2012) and guess what? Check the release notes yourself, they fixed and added quite a bit, but IPv6 support wasn't amongst those features.

In fact, a company like DrayTek deems IPv6 so important that they don't even mention it on their product comparison chart.

Or what to think about my home cable modem; a Cisco EPC3925, also not that old (got it no longer than 1 / 2 years ago I think). This critter doesn't support IPv6 nor firmware updates. Not allowing updates is also a very common trend amongst consumer routers in order to prevent home users from screwing up themselves.

As said; I think you've been reading too much propaganda. In many cases the only way people might be able to start using IPv6 at home is by purchasing a new router. Well, even though I really understand the need for IPv6 (I'm proud to say that all my new hosting servers will fully support it) I have no intention - what so ever - to purchase new DrayTeks merely to get native Ipv6 access at home (a broker can do that for me just as well).

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The madness of having light bulbs etc. with IP addresses is that to be visible to the local router, is that they also need a MAC address; which is (currently) unique, along with a implementation of 802 LLC, which has more than enough functionality for the job - back in the 80's we controlled the various machines on production lines using applications that sat directly on top of LLC.

As someone else has pointed, effectively with smart metering etc. every home will have (at least) one IP address and be running at least one device capable of acting as a home server.

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Pint

@Len

Funny, I can't find a firmware upgrade for a single one of the routers I have (or have deployed) in the last 10 years. 95% of those units are still in service. Or, wait...are you advocating that myself and all of my clients rush out to replace perfectly functional equipment? Why? Why would you advocate that? Do you believe that IPv6 is somehow a Good Thing? Why?

What are the negatives of IPv6:

Network renumbering each time you switch ISPs. A real problem for consumers who actually care about their networks and change providers periodically to avoid getting raped by the local monopolies. It's also a massive pain for SMBs who change ISPs for the same reasons, but also tend to move more often. Their networks are larger than consumers and have even more reason to want to static address items on the network. Shockingly, you'll find that there are individuals out there who want control over their network that doesn't rely on DNS or other "dynamic" technologies which don't quite as well as advertised.

No multihoming or failover. Oh, you can multi-home or failover if you happen to have a router that speaks BGP and an ISP willing to provide the service. Most consumers and SMBs don't have such options. failover would mean renumbering the entire network. Multihoming is pretty much right out.

No host obfuscation; no privacy. NAT isn't security and certainly if you try hard enough you can profile networks through NAT. Still, even half-assed NATs of today (such as OpenWRT on a Netgear WNDR7200V2) can be easily configured to obfuscate the individual computers requesting resources enough that you would have to be a top 1% security researcher to profile the damned things. IPv6 tags each device with it's own external IP; every single thing that device does is traceable directly to it. IPv6 means privacy is finally and completely dead.

One simple mistake lets the internet attack your toaster. Stateful firewalls as are required to protect people using IPv6 from having the outside world directly address their device are complicated. Far more so than the simple NAT+Firewall devices of yore. They require more knowledge to operate and maintain if you are an individual of the belief that the internet should not be allowed to attack your toaster for fun. Firewalls on network edge devices are not remotely simple enough or powerful enough to properly replace NAT yet.

What are the benefits of IPv6

It makes the lives of programmers easier. Yes; programmers, those great big whiny babies of the world will finally be able to leave behind the programming techniques we've spent the past 15 years perfecting. They can assume that devices can speak to one another with nothing in between them (which isn't true, because a proper consumer firewall won't allow the internet to talk to your toaster, even in IPv6, but hey, let's keep beating the end-to-end drum, eh?) The end-to-end model makes life a small (probably single digit, given the libraries that exist for NAT traversal by now) bit easier. This minor convenience for the elite few, the developers, the worthy is worth making the lives of IT operations more difficult and telling the entire world they must buy new devices, even though no new devices exist which are actually ready to do the task in a simple, cheap and simultaneously secure fashion. Even if the devices did exist, you're asking the whole world to replace perfectly working equipment in order to benefit the whiny few.

We're going to run out of IPv4 addresses. Yep. This is a problem. Artificial scarcity is a bitch, ain't it? Fortunately, we can all break the rules when are forced to switch and simply implement NAT66 and keep all our shit working. I even get to listen to developers howl. It's awesome.

Break the rules

Well let me be the first to say: fuck those whiny bitches. If their applications from the whiny bitch department don't work, I'll get one from another developer that does. My network, my rules. I give zero fucks about making the lives of developers easier. You don't get to talk to my toaster, or my lightbulb, my furnace of my server unless I bloody say so. And no, I won't pay Cisco rates for the privilege of making the lives of some whiny bitch developers easier.

Either the upgrade provides me as a consumer and systems administrator with a return on investment or you can go straight to hell. In 15 years, when my routers die, I'll send them down there do join you. When I do replace them, they'll use NAT66 (available on things like pfsense) so that I can get the features that are of use to me. Until then, cheers mate.

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Re: @Len

So true... and yet so irrelevant.

ipv6 is the right way to go for these things. We aren't talking data centres, we are talking light bulbs for home automation hobbyists - probably the same whiny people who are programming their hobby boards.

Yes, one wrong firewall rule gives evil hackers access to your... lightbulbs. As does downloading one wrong "ahem" codec. NAT and firewall rules aren't going to save you from your own stupidity with upnp.

IPv6 is correct for the application (and for ISP-provided voip too) because they have limited need to talk to ipv4 networks. Unlike systems in data centres. IPv4 would certainty suffice, but you probably reduce your risk profile by dropping off the ipv4 internet.

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Anonymous Coward

so the dastardly Chinese hackers are given the power to plunge the nation into darkness and switch peoples tellies off during the last night of the proms. good plan.

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Trollface

This is great

Imagine a future with a country-postcode-street number-door number mapping to IP6 and all the appliances inside facing the internet. If the neighbour turns his telly up too loud I could get the rest of the lightbulbs in the street to DDoS his telly with a little script. What's not to like?

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No, really what I want is a lightbulb of a sensible size that turns on immediately (rather than taking a few minutes to warm up), can actually light an entire room to a sane level, doesn't cost $50 and lasts anywhere near as long as it says on the box (even half the quoted life would be nice) oh and it would be nice if it wasn't made with stuff that means you alledgedly have to evacuate the entire block if you drop one! (how true is the mercury in cfl's are dangerous thing? the wounds from stepping on a shard look nasty).

I honestly don't need my lightbulbs on the interwebs.

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For now, halogens in a "standard" bulb envelope will do that. They're more expensive than the incandescents were, but you can get two with an eddie screw at Ikea for about 2.50 (last time I checked anyway) and you can buy them with bayonet fittings from other suppliers.

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Interesting, thanks for the tip! I remember having small halogens in desklamps, small odd shaped bulbs with two little prongs. I haven't seen them as more conventional bulbs, will have to go get some!

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LED bulbs are now about half-way there, and improving all the time. Give it another couple of years and I think we will have > 1000 lumen bulbs that are a reasonable size and don't require you to remortgage your house.

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HALOGEN BULBS

Also, they are dimmable :)

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Happy

@rampant spaniel

"Interesting, thanks for the tip! I remember having small halogens in desklamps, small odd shaped bulbs with two little prongs. I haven't seen them as more conventional bulbs, will have to go get some!"

I'm writing this by the light of one. Standard fitting, lights as fast as an incandescent. Fully as bright.

Mercury is an environmental and neurotoxin. It's very nasty (and if the bulb was warm it will have a Mercury cloud to disperse.

You do know where the expression "Mad as a hatter" comes from, right?

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Just wanted to add that light fittings that take the little two-pronged halogen bulbs are now also becoming commonplace. Being smaller but producing similar light output to the old tungsten bulbs makes for some interesting new design options.

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LiFx

The LiFx smart LED bulb that started as a Kickstarter project uses an IPv6 mesh network too, but it utilises your existing WiFi network for it's backhaul.

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Meh

Re: LiFx

I think the main problem with these smart bulbs is "$80 for a lightbulb?! Just so I can switch it on and off from my phone, or when I'm outside my house?!"

I like the idea, but not for $80 (£80 no doubt in the UK).

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Anonymous Coward

Whoooosh!

======The Point=====>>>>>>

.o

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.|

| |

All the previous posters.

These bulbs are not about The EEEEVIIILL 'LECTRIC COMPANY TURNING OFF R LIGHTS! These are LED bulbs; they don't use enough power to be a blip on the scope at the power company.

This is about YOU controlling the lights in your house - dimming the lights before you start a movie on TV, or having your bedroom lights slowly ramp up in the morning when you should be getting up, or fading to hot pink when it detects you start your Barry White on the bedroom media player.

This is about having a standard protocol to control them, rather than some custom BS.

The odds that you would be controlling your lights across this Internet at large is almost nil. These lights will likely never have anything but a link-local address, not a routable address. This is about not having to screw around with fiddly things like DHCP and 192.168 addresses for these things - or rather, the average user not having to screw around with those things (because as a Reg reader YOU might be able to set that up, but do you really want your parents/neighbor/PHB worrying about it (read: worrying YOU about it)?)

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@David

If you can control it then what's to stop others from doing the same thing?

Esp. when taken into consideration (a point made earlier) that many consumer routers don't even provide proper support for IPv6. And if they do; a computer illiterate maintaining an IPv6 firewall to make sure only they gain access ? I don't see that happening to quickly, most of them already struggle with IPv4 addresses.

Sorry, but I think you missed a few points as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @David

Reading comprehension and retention: do you practice it?

"These lights will likely never have anything but a link-local address, not a routable address."

Unless your "other person" is on your local network, they are not going to be able to control a device that only has a link local address.

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Re: @David

If you dont want them globally addressable, use local addresses instead. This isn't IPv4 - all v6 devices get dedicated local IP addresses that can't be accessed remotely, as well as the optional globally routable one(s).

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Re: Whoooosh!

tbh no, I didn't miss that point, I just don't see any value in the concept of remoting controlling your lights in the manner discussed. I do see it as an extra cost and an extra complexity introducing more possibilities for failures. ymmv of course.

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Re: Whoooosh!

The only use I see is in pairing with switches - the low-power zigbee stuff can give you light switches that run for decades on a battery, or even be powered by the action of flicking the switch. That means you can make the switches moveable: Wonderful for those doing a bit of DIY who'd rather not knock half a wall down to install new cables.

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Re: Whoooosh!

I have white buttons on the walls to control my lights, and will continue to use them until I find a more user friendly solution. An iPhone / Android app is not more user friendly, and lights with a mind of their own are likely to be annoying.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Whoooosh!

I've got a couple of light switches behind a bookcase, if i could mount the switch anywhere - without having to re-route the lighting ring - that would be a compelling reason for me to get there bulbs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Whoooosh!

Actually, thinking about it my thermostat is wireless, I presume xbee/zigbee and I find that moving it about the house is a really useful thing to be able to do. It has a mount on the wall, but if I'm working from home, I can move it to the room I'm working form (the cellar is my office) and only heat that room to the temperature needed. Light switches would have similar use - If they sit on the wall, that's great, but being able to move them would be useful, you can put big furniture wherever you want, if they can be moved.

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Re: Whoooosh! @David

>This is about having a standard protocol to control them, rather than some custom BS.

Tosh!

This is about (poorly) using a standard protocol suite to COMMUNICATE with the light bulb/device.

To control the light bulb/device you still need some custom BS, unless of cause you've been following the various international standards groups working on standards for home automation, in which case you only need a custom app...

I think we are agreed that these devices only need a 2 layer network stack - since 802.2 LLC provides all the necessary communications functionality. I suspect that they didn't use this interface because: 1) they didn't understanding networking, 2) it wouldn't of resulted in the idea gaining 'cool' press coverage, 3) in building a prototype it was easier (and probably cheaper) to grab a full off-the-shelf board with a Linux derivative pre-installed.

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Whilst it makes a nice headline, I fail to see any point in having a light bulb that is IP aware. The light switch that controls it, maybe, but why each individual bulb? It's nonsense.

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RE: but why each individual bulb? It's nonsense.

Not in the bulb, but in the fixture itself!!!!!

This would solve one of the problems that plague older homes - getting cables down inside walls.

When I was a kid (the 1960's), my dad worked for a company that made precision motors, they used a 24 volt momentary closure relay (made by GE) to turn on/off their shop floor lighting. Since the factory was in Chicago, a city where the electrical codes were quite strict, being able to run the control circuits using what amounted to doorbell wire (24 volts at 100 ma) eliminated many lengthy metal conduit runs. The neat part was this combination switch that had the on/off buttons and a 12 position rotary switch that allowed selection of any one of the 12 connected relay loads from a single point. Also, since these on/off switches were wired in parallel to each other, complicated and expensive 3-way and 4-way mains wiring was eliminated.

So, a fixture (or load) mounted Zigbee module may serve as the foundation for quite flexible load control.

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