back to article Free smart fridges! App stores in fountains! Plus more from Canonical man

“What if you need to update 50 million hairdryers and something goes wrong? How can you roll it back?” Thus spake Maarten Ectors, Canonical’s Internet of Things veep, who painted a picture of an IoT future where your fridge will be taken away from you unless you constantly use it as a smart app store. “From a security …

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  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Stop

    Can we have a strait jacket for this guy?

    Seriously, WTF should you be doing with a lift that is not already done by going from floor to floor on demand. Adding all that complexity, risk and need for constant patching so you find it takes several seconds less to reach the door when you arrive?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Can we have a strait jacket for this guy?"

      I suppose that if you're appointed as IoT VP you've got to believe stuff like this, otherwise you're heading for a nervous breakdown. Corollary: never believe anything a bloke with a job title like that says.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Seriously, WTF should you be doing with a lift that is not already done by going from floor to floor on demand.

      Anything else will lead to sulking in basements.

    3. getHandle

      Seriously, WTF should you be doing with a lift that is not already done by going from floor to floor on demand.

      I can think of a couple of things, but you have to be quick...

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        getHandle I can think of a couple of things, but you have to be quick...

        I can see a floor in your plans. Several, in fact.

        1. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

          re: I can see a floor in your plans. Several, in fact.

          Thats just wrong on every level

    4. Swarthy Silver badge

      Seriously, WTF should you be doing with a lift that is not already done by going from floor to floor on demand. Adding all that complexity, risk and need for constant patching so you find it takes several seconds less more to reach the door when you arrive?

      FTFY

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      What is he thinking? Why profit of course. The problem is there's more and more of these types of marketing types and companies. In the next few years it'll probably be pretty hard to find anything that's not IoT crap.

      Not only bad security, more complexity and general shit for brains in the software, etc.... there's the bandwidth with all them phoning home and telling the manufacturer everything the product knows about you. We pay for their data collection and their fuck-ups not only with the additional cost of the product but for the bandwidth and any headaches that occur due to the general stupidity of those making and selling them.

      I think I need an adult beverage and a lie down... if the fridge will let me have one and the couch won't object to my presence.

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    What use is a smart fridge?

    Only heathens put 'beer' in a fridge.

    1. Alien Doctor 1.1
      Pint

      Re: What use is a smart fridge?

      My local tesco keeps bottled ales (hobgoblin, doom bar, old pec etc) in a fridge at the same temperature as lager and cider - bloody sacrilege.

      I asked them why and said head office told them, only following orders mein herr.

      Bastards.

      I know the hobgoblin is only £1.39 a bottle, but having to wait for the mrs to sit on a couple of bottles to warm them is a waste of valuable quaffing time.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: What use is a smart fridge?

        My local co-op has started doing that - I emailed them and for a day they jambed the doors open but left the fridge running. You get 3 for £5 of most ales.

        My home brew is back online and that's the only thing I drink cold - the first pint or two out of the jug coming in from the brewery are sometimes cold but I do fill the washing up bowl with warmish water and drop the bottles/jug in to speed up the warming.

        Got a shock the other night though - not being able to do a full mash brew I used some tinned malt and that Wherry is pretty fine after 8 months maturation!

        1. Alien Doctor 1.1

          Re: What use is a smart fridge?

          Which malt did you use Tom?

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Welcome to our new Fridge Overlords

    Sounds like this guy is a candidate for Trumps Cabinet. I'm sure he will find like minds there.

    Naturally that fridge will be made in America and require servicing at twice the frequency of similar models built in Korea and Germany.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to our new Fridge Overlords

      "Naturally that fridge will be made in America and require servicing at twice the frequency of similar models built in Korea and Germany."

      Servicing? I can't remember how long ago we bought our fridge except it's >15 years ago and probably much older. It's never heeded servicing. But it's dumb.

      Nevertheless it's a Unix fridge: do one thing and do it well. Buying food and keeping it cool are two different things. My fridge does the latter.

      1. Richard Jones 1
        WTF?

        Re: Welcome to our new Fridge Overlords

        Our fridge-freezer was bought in about 1975 and apart from a new thermostat that I fitted several years ago, it has never been serviced. It now lives in the integral garage, and has done so since about 1992. So this makes it more than half my age. Oh and being that old it can still operate successfully even when the garage temperature drops.

        Why the £$%^&*)(*&^%$£ would I want something that has to clutter up WiFi (with what pointless signal noise?) and probably ends up being a vector for the next DOS campaign?

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Welcome to our new Fridge Overlords

          I did write that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.

          However I rented a Jeep in the USA in 2016 and it needed a service every 6K miles. The same model here has a service interval of 12K miles. I wonder why? Perhaps for the same reason that several states won't let Tesla sell cars directly. Big Money talks big in the US Auto Industry.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Welcome to our new Fridge Overlords

      Only if it makes it to the first service unbroken.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £2000 for a fridge???

    I paid £100 for my fridge, 10 years ago, and it still hasn't broken down yet. What better service is there than that?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: £2000 for a fridge???

      That'll be one of those jumbo sized double wide 6 foot tall American jobbies

      Very handy if you need to keep a dead body chilled while you slowly dismember it but a bit excessive for the usual UK property.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: £2000 for a fridge???

      If it also doubles as protection against nuclear blasts - bargain!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: £2000 for a fridge???

        > That'll be one of those jumbo sized double wide 6 foot tall American jobbies

        I have one of those. What a piece of crap. I have to manually defrost it with a steamer a few times a year. "Made in America" but the components are Chinese junk.

        I certainly wouldn't spend EVEN MORE for a "smart" piece of crap refrigerator. I wouldn't even accept a free one.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Happy

        "If it also doubles as protection against nuclear blasts - bargain!"

        Ah, you're thinking of that Indiana Jones movie.

        I've owned one of those with the (now) completely illegal door lock. Weighed a ton but built before the advent of rigid polystyrene insulation, so they made the shell quite tough.

        Impressive thing about them was the very quiet (and infrequent) motor running. Well insulated

        In Europe mfg went with smaller designs with more frequently running compressors IOW ler the customer pay, they don't know the difference. Efficiency ratings have improved things a bit but I'd love to know how the old tank would have compared to the modern stuff.

  5. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Butterfly net please?

    Has Maarten checked if his 'medication as a service' is working recently?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fridge-as-a-service

    Then capitalism collapses and the real future begins.

  7. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Daft beyond words

    I could ask my fridge for recommendations for a pizza place.

    You can ask your phone that. Why would you go into the kitchen to ask your fridge? Since there would soon be tie-ups between fridge manufacturers (sorry, fridge app store manufacturers) and pizza chains, why would you trust your fridge to give you an unbiased recommendation? If you've just moved into an area and bought a fridge or brought your fridge with you (a location-aware fridge, naturally), how many times are you going to ask your fridge that all-important question before you've decided which is your favourite pizza place?

    They don’t want it to break after 8 years

    If you're the sort of person who pays two grand for a fridge it had bloody better not break after 8 years! I've had mine for 16 years and it only cost £170.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Daft beyond words

      * I could ask my fridge for recommendations for a pizza place.

      ** You can ask your phone that.

      Or, God forbid, ask an actual friend who eats pizza. This input method also works offline.

      If you're into Social Life (vs social media), you could even ask the friend(s) to come along.

      Wacky, I know...

    2. dbannon
      Joke

      Re: Daft beyond words

      "I could ask my fridge for recommendations for a pizza place.

      You can ask your phone that. "

      Do you realise just how silly that sounds when looked at objectively ? On the sound unix principle, your phone should be making phone calls, not answering questions about food. Your fridge does specialise in food ! If you have a choice between a food device and a voice call device to ask about pizza, surly the food device wins ?

  8. Palpy

    It worked for phones.

    Those who are old enough, raise your hands if you thought, in 1993, that within a few decades phones would come with a camera or two as standard equipment.

    However, that's a special case, IMHO. It just turned out that a hand-held portable device like a phone is a good candidate for a general-purpose handheld computing platform. Not so much a fridge or a thermostat or elevator.

    Obviously the development pathway for IoT is badly borked. Manufacturers don't program with security in mind, nor do they provide security updates... or updates at all, in most cases. Doesn't excuse starry-eyed speculations about SNAPping everything everywhere. Oh well. Somebody has to see stars or else we're all just looking down at the sidewalk.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It worked for phones.

      "It just turned out that a hand-held portable device like a phone is a good candidate for a general-purpose handheld computing platform. ... Somebody has to see stars or else we're all just looking down at the sidewalk."

      Too many people are doing neither, they're just looking at their general-purpose handheld computing platforms.

  9. Fading Silver badge
    Terminator

    Why build any of that into the appliance....

    When everyone and their dog already has the always on processing/communication device on their person in the form of a smart phone?

    NFC to phone from appliance is all that is needed and merely have the phone/app as the central hub. Alexa app/siri/cortana -with NFC to all the smart devices in your home/work place/car/mass transit system would substantially reduce the complexity of the security and update model.

    Then comes the smart chip in your head and the future is already here......

  10. Buzzword

    "The day that fridge breaks down you get £100 a day"

    Cue a lot of fridges "accidentally" breaking down when the leaseholder needs a bit of cash.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    All your pizzas are ours

    Here's one I made earlier, it seems appropriate to repeat it here:

    "Your freezer has just been switched to defrost and all the controls disabled for 24 hours.

    Normal operation will be restored on payment of {$CURRENCY UNITS}25. We think you'll find this represents good value for money as our estimate of the value of the freezer's current contents is at least 4 times this.

    You can use the following link to make your payment."

    1. dbannon

      Re: All your pizzas are ours

      "Your freezer has just been switched to defrost and all the controls disabled for 24 hours.

      Normal operation will be restored on payment of {$CURRENCY UNITS}25......."

      Not my problem, I have contracted for food (in a usable state) from a Food as a Service organisation. It will need to decide to reboot the fridge and, if necessary, restock.

      As the nutter said, its a whole new ball game.

      (as an aside, did you mean to say "All your pizza are belong to us" ? )

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    “We treat every app as criminal until proven innocent,”

    And it's taken till 2017 for an OS supplier to figure this out?

    The whole f**king industry needs more of the attitude of a Black team.

    There job is to break s**t in the lab so it can't be broken in the field.

    But that might actually mean spending money.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    Wishfull thinking

    I seriously hope "White" Goods makers either don't hear this guy or ignore him. Otherwise we are going to end up in the 18th C. tech wise, without any working white goods.

    TVs are bad enough already. You can't even buy a real radio any longer except for a car, and Halfords seem to think car radios only do FM and DAB. Or stupid App controlled light bulbs that can make a bot net. Philips was once a world leader in Electronics, and in 1926 before getting into radio, they made proper light bulbs.

    Are people determined to make everything that uses mains or batteries as unreliable and unsafe as Windows ME on the Internet in 2016?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wishfull thinking

      "Otherwise we are going to end up in the 18th C. tech wise, without any working white goods."

      It'll be OK. There'll be a thriving cottage industry doing up old, dumb kit to run another 20 years and reselling it.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Wishfull thinking

        It'll be OK. There'll be a thriving cottage industry doing up old, dumb kit to run another 20 years and reselling it.

        Until the makers of new kit buy a few politicians and laws are passed to make it illegal to fix anything you own. At least one state in the USA is trying to pass a law allowing you to repiar your own stuff rather than forcing you to use a dealer repair centre.

        Companies like John Deere will take legal action under the DMCA if you tinker with your JD tractor.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “They will change how the fridge is built”

    Eh, I predict a different outcome. In the future expect to hear these same schmucks utter: 'oh, we knew none this would ever wash'. But we had to pitch it because that's what the suits wanted.

    So just like how 3D / Curved TV gimmicks are dying off... Smart TV + Smart Fridges will take a knock too, once consumers realize how Samsung / Philips Ad serving & slurping isn't in their best interests.

    I think more consumers will just start to nursemaid their appliances to get through this ridiculous era of corporate servitude to Smart, AI, IoT etc...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: “They will change how the fridge is built”

      Smart TV + Smart Fridges will take a knock too, once consumers realize how Samsung / Philips Ad serving & slurping isn't in their best interests.

      I take the dim view on this.. the average consumer won't have a clue how much serving and slurping is going on. They'll more pissed about the thing borks during an update or is phoning home while they're trying to watch whatever reality show is the hit of the day.

  15. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    WTF?

    I dunno...

    Every time I start to think that the IoT might actually, in spite of all expectations, have one or two minor uses that provide some benefit to them, along comes some genius like this...

    As always - someone has looked at a perfectly good mature working technology and found a way to make it an over-complex, over-engineered, over-priced, pile of foetid dingo's kidneys. Truly, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation is alive and well.

    Lemme see:

    - Fridge: requires a thermostat and a little switch to turn the light on.

    - Heating: requires a thermostat to turn the heating on and off.

    - Lighting: requires a switch on the wall to turn the lights on and off.

    - Lifts: requires a little control logic and a set of buttons to select a target floor.

    Nope, not seeing anything there that requires an attached app store.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: I dunno...

      @Neil Barnes: In general, I agree with you. But:

      - Fridge: requires a thermostat and a little switch to turn the light on. Many fridges now have a frost-free feature that presumably relies on some kind of timer. I don't suppose anyone is perverse enough to be nostalgic about freezer defrosting.

      - Heating: requires a thermostat to turn the heating on and off. And a timer.

      - Lifts: requires a little control logic and a set of buttons to select a target floor. True only for small buildings. Moving large numbers of people around tall buildings requires logic that controls all the lifts, and sometimes the slightly annoying feature where you select a floor when you arrive in the lobby, so the system can optimise each lift's stops.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: I dunno...

        Kubla - obviously I simplified, but the point was that the user interface is simple, logical, and debugged.

        Would you not think it more logical to have a single device (e.g. the thermostat/timer for a CH system) which does nothing other than that, and does it well, than moving the control logic onto a second device (having gone through who-knows-where in the meantime) which is used for a dozen other tasks? Particularly as the system also needs to be able to operate correctly in the absence of the second device?

      2. dbannon

        Re: I dunno...

        "- Fridge: requires a thermostat and a little switch to turn the light on. Many fridges now have a frost-free feature that presumably relies on some kind of timer. I don't suppose anyone is perverse enough to be nostalgic about freezer defrosting."

        Many fridges already have a little alarm that beeps if some naughty child has the door open too long. A temp alarm ? An internet connection would allow the fridge to email you saying "I'm getting too warm". A bar code reader would be nice, it could note when you put something in there and let you know when its past use by date.

        I am sure I could think of more if I was feeling silly enough......

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: I dunno...

          But neither of those functions require a network connection.

          If the fridge announces that its door is open when you're halfway to work, or halfway to Cuba, there's little you can do: it's only effective if you're actually there. Equally, a bar code reader/reminder needs to make its announcement when you open the fridge door, where there's a chance you'll actually do something about it there and then.

  16. Tikimon Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Clearly nobody learned a thing from web browser debacles

    I vaguely recall the day when I first heard some clueless airhead breathlessly raving on about what a wonderful thing it was that a web browser could now silently install software to your computer. Save the user the trouble of clicking "Yes, install malware on my computer!". Well, it was certainly "disruptive".

    Check this guy's passport, I'll bet he's really a Golgafrinchan...

  17. frank ly Silver badge

    "Devops for devices is possible."

    It's the holy grail!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: "Devops for devices is possible."

      NI!

  18. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    25 years? Hah! Try 25 months

    “They will change how the fridge is built,” he continued, undaunted by your correspondent’s raised eyebrow. “They don’t want it to break after 8 years, it’ll cost £100/month. They’ll want it to last for 25 years.

    It's a lot more likely that fridges etc. take the path of recent phones and computers: no user-serviceable parts inside, no hardware upgrade path. In two years, when your iFridge can no longer run the latest version of FridgeOS, you have to throw it out and cough up another 2 grand for a new one.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: 25 years? Hah! Try 25 months

      Warranty period + epsilon.

  19. David 132 Silver badge
    WTF?

    I can see where this is going..

    [IOT "smart" lifts, fridges, doors] + [app stores in everything] + [the existing precedent of downloadable "celebrity" voices for your GPS]

    equals... white goods with "Genuine People Personalities™". And we thought that was just absurd fiction that would never come to pass.

    Although I have to admit... having a fridge/thermostat/lightbulb with the personality of Brian Blessed does appeal to me somewhat, in a shouty beardy sort of way.

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