back to article Taken a while but finally here's the first proper smart-home gizmo

It's been three years since we, here at El Reg, first started taking the introduction of a new generation of "smart home" devices seriously – and that was mostly focusing on the security implications. As well as stunningly poor security there is a plethora of competing standards. Back in 2014: X10, ZigBee, LightwaveRF, Z-Wave …

pdh

Double-edged sword?

> Following a firmware update sent late last week, the Trådfri smart lighting system will work with competitor Hue, Philips' wireless lighting system. Thanks to a more open approach taken by big tech companies, it also works with Amazon's Alexa/Echo digital assistant and the Google Home.

Does that mean that a security hole in any one of those systems other can now be leveraged to compromise Tradfri as well?

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Childcatcher

Re: Double-edged sword?

"Does that mean that a security hole in any one of those systems other can now be leveraged to compromise Tradfri as well?"

Yes but just like all other home users you will be deploying a separate VLAN for these with internets only via a transparent, SSL MitM proxy.

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Re: Double-edged sword?

Yes but just like all other home users you will be deploying a separate VLAN for these with internets only via a transparent, SSL MitM proxy.

So by "will be deploying" make it mandatory? I'm thinking of an awful lot of Joe Consumers who have to have everything "plug and play" with no additional hardware or knowledge.

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Re: Double-edged sword?

"So by "will be deploying" make it mandatory?"

That whooshing sound you hear is gerdesj's point passing waaaay over your head :-):-)

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A lightbulb from Ikea?

Great, that means we'll have to assemble it ourselves!

*Wanders off muttering about fitting tabs into slots, incomprehensible hieroglyphic-like assembly instructions, & winding up with a handfull of extra bits*

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Want/need?

Setting aside the issue of whether you actually need or want a smart app-controlled lightbulb

That's quite a big thing to set aside. If something is totally pointless it doesn't matter how many protocols it supports. Anyone for an internet connected corkscrew?

And, being a bit picky, what does this light-bulb use the internet for that makes it smart? I assume it illuminates a room, but that is usually controlled from a switch on the wall. Does it let you switch on your bedroom light at home in Edinburgh while in a hotel in Sydney?

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Re: Want/need?

"Anyone for an internet connected corkscrew?"
That actually almost makes sense. Here in Australia stelvin seals are ubiquitous and I seldom see a cork. In the meantime, the corkscrew has decided to hide itself so when I need one I can't find it! Being able to log onto the interwebs and locate it would be quite useful. In the meantime, more useful still would be an Internet connected wine merchant. Oh wait; I've already got one! Get Wines Direct

"Does it let you switch on your bedroom light at home in Edinburgh while in a hotel in Sydney?"
Or does it allow you to instruct Tommy the Talking Lightbulb to say to your wife and her lover: "That's a very interesting technique! I haven't seen her do that since she took on three German shepherds at once!"

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Re: Want/need?

> That's quite a big thing to set aside. If something is totally pointless

Good to see you thinking about people with limited mobility there Pen-y-gors. Whilst I hope you are in good health today, I must sadly observe that the human body doesn't last forever. Damned biology.

It does you no harm to let the first adopters and their inexpensive IoT lightbulbs start to iron out the creases in a framework that could help people continue independent lives for longer. We won't all be able to afford a young helper at our heck and call when infirmity strikes us. Damned economics.

And in the mean time, with a bit of imagination, this stuff can be fun.

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Holmes

Back in my day...

...we had to flick the light switch by hand. We were so deprived.

Except for those few elites who were lucky enough to have a clapper.

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Re: Want/need?

So now corkscrews will need an antennae, a GPS chip, and enough power to operate them? No thanks, I stick to my trusty analog one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: thinking about people with limited mobility

It is good to be thinking about folks who can't or won't use the existing wall switches for lighting and sockets. In the UK (and presumably elsewhere) there are already products available to address that market. Some of the products have been around for years, and don't even need a cloud connection. Buy it - fit it - own it :) Remember, the S in IoT is for security.

See e.g. http://www.screwfix.com/c/electrical-lighting/smart-switches-sockets/cat9340001

(some cloudy products, others just with what you might call a 'local remote' capability). Other retailers may be avalable.

Remote control socket adapters (plug it in the wall socket and you instantly have a remotely controllable power socket) and such now even make regular appearances as Aldi special buys.

"with a bit of imagination, this stuff can be fun."

Fun's good. IoT marketing hype less so.

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Re: Want/need?

I always know where my corkscrew is. Partly because there's one in my briefcase - and partly because there's one in the bar in the sitting room.

Erm, oh dear. Should I have admitted that in public?

To be fair, and in a vain attempt to argue I'm not a raging alcoholic, my briefcase also contains a set of jewellers screwdrivers (glasses repair), a leatherman, a small ratchet screwdriver with 12 different bits in the handle, a torch, plus whatever paperwork I might actually need for work.

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Re: Want/need?

@Dave 126

Good to see you thinking about people with limited mobility there

I'm not convinced that the only way for someone with 'limited mobility' (whatever that may actually mean in each individual case) to switch a light on is for them to use a smartphone app to connect to a server in wherever before actually getting light. Particularly if their mobility limitation involves e.g. Parkinsons which might make accurately pressing keys on a phone a bit tricky. I suspect there are a lot of much simpler, low tech solutions to switching a light (or other switch) on and off without leaving a chair. Possibly involving radio waves, or even some sort of clever wizardry involving a small box that sends infra-red signals to a receiver when a button is pressed. I'm sure some smart person could develop something. Maybe I should patent the idea.

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Re: Want/need?

"I suspect there are a lot of much simpler, low tech solutions to switching a light (or other switch) on and off without leaving a chair."
Sound activated switches have been around for a very long time. They were being advertised in men's magazines in the 1970s as a way to impress the girl you were seducing. I thought that a particularly stupid idea at the time. I preferred leaving the light on all the better to appreciate the pulchritude of my partner. When you are as myopic as me you need all the light you can muster.

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Re: Want/need?

"I always know where my corkscrew is."
But then you're not married to Mrs Git. You may recall (or not) that Mrs Git lost her mobile phone and we deduced it had to be in the house somewhere, but being turned off to conserve electricity, could not be located. Some five months and one new mobile phone later, it turned up in a bag containing various shoe polishes, rags and brushes under the kitchen sink. I have found not only a bottle of red wine in the fridge "chambré-ing", but the clothes iron... and I'd better stop there.

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Re: Want/need?

Australia stelvin seals are ubiquitous

Not heard of that breed of seal.. Are they as lethal as the rest of the Australian flora and fauna?

(They'd have to be pretty nasty to compete with leopard seals - the marine equivalent of wolves..)

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Re: Want/need?

if their mobility limitation involves e.g. Parkinsons

Who are more likely to have problems moving rather than the stereotypical shaking..

(My father died of complications caused by Parkinsons. After his diagnosis, as a pharmacist, he assisted with the modification of treatment plans, using himself as the test subject. He pretty comprehensively proved that, in general, the typical shaking is usually caused by incorrect dosing of dopamine rather than the Parkinsons itself. You do get some parks patients that exhibit shaking even when correctly treated but that's usually caused by collateral damage caused in the brain by the die-off of neurons).

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Re: Want/need?

I see your lightbulb and raise you one salt shaker with bluetooth and Alexa integration.

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Oh thank goodness

The wheel was a long time coming but the advantages have really paid off, this will revolutionise indoor lighting in my opinion.

/s

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Anonymous Coward

John Henry Holmes would be turning in his grave.

It's a f*cking switch.

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Anonymous Coward

You Kids Today With Your Blueteeth

When I was your age, all we had was X10, and we were glad to have it!

If your Internet-connected lights ever start blinking strangely, it's me saying, "You've Been Haxx0red!" in Morse code.

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Re: You Kids Today With Your Blueteeth

When I was your age, all we had was X10, and we were glad to have it!

What do you you mean had?

Still works great within the inherent limitations of its communications technology. Doesn't need someone's cloud either.

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First "proper" smart home gadget?

When I read that headline I thought it was going to be something actually useful, which a 'smart' light bulb is not. Having greater compatibility with different smart home vendors doesn't make it useful, sorry.

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Re: First "proper" smart home gadget?

Useful to you in your limited view of the world you mean?

I've not got one, but a quick think gives me 3 reasonable usecases.

Stress reduction. I can set it to turn off all the lights when no one is home. Which will stop me yelling at teenagers that they've left every fricking light in the house on as they leave for school.

Security. I could buy a timer for each lamp, or I could set them to come on in the house at 15 minutes after sun down, moving each day.

Laziness. I'm watching a movie. I want all the lights off now...

Yeah you're right, in no way useful to anyone at all...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a quick think gives me 3 reasonable usecases.

OK.

Now which of those very reasonable use cases can't conveniently be done without IKEA's latest announcement? Which of those can't conveniently be done without an integrated connection to a remote server out in someone's cloud so that your use can be 'optimised' and your firmware can be updated (if the vendor chooses to do so)?

The workl awaits...

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Re: First "proper" smart home gadget?

@Ian Watkinson

"Stress reduction. I can set it to turn off all the lights when no one is home. Which will stop me yelling at teenagers that they've left every fricking light in the house on as they leave for school."

Mrs W insists on leaving the landing light on during the sometimes bright and warm daylight hours that we occasionally get in Blighty.

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Re: First "proper" smart home gadget?

"Mrs W insists on leaving the landing light on during the sometimes bright and warm daylight hours that we occasionally get in Blighty."

And I bet she doesn't deal the resulting plane influx either!

(sorry it's an old and childish one but a good one)

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Re: First "proper" smart home gadget?

And that 'stress reduction', 'security' or 'laziness' scenario requires individually addressable light bulbs why, exactly?

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Re: a quick think gives me 3 reasonable usecases.

"The workl awaits..."
Apparently so, but what is it waiting for? Google translate is no help...

Workl workl

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Anonymous Coward

Re: workl

" "The workl awaits..."

Apparently so, but what is it waiting for?"

In my browser's font, with my typing and eyesight, world and workl look quite similar, especially in the "Enter your comment" window. Like modem and modern often do in various places.

I'm the one that writ workl, and I should have been at the opticians today. Opticians visit didn't happen (reasons not relevant), so I'm still waiting for my visit to the opticians. In the meantime please forgive my occasional unspotted tryping errors.

Happy now?

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Re: workl

Fuck Yeah Kerning!

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HomePlug?

I'm just thinking out loud here, but with the massive widespread use of HomePlug, why aren't router(s) readily available with the tech built in? The last home router I saw with HomePlug (85mbps in the early days I believe) available was the ZyXEL NBG318S. I don't think I've seen one since, but it would be silly especially as these devices are all connected directly to the electricity.

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Re: HomePlug?

The only thing I can think of is that, in general, routers are not connected directly to the mains electricity. They are connected to a low voltage DC supply via a PSU 'brick' or 'wall wart'. These arrangements are standard and the DC PSU is bought-in or copied-in as a no risk decison, as are reference designs for domestic routers.

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Re: HomePlug?

"in general, routers are not connected directly to the mains electricity"
You can though. It does let all the smoke out of the wires so they don't work anymore unfortunately...

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Facepalm

Excellent. A solution I didn't want for a problem I don't have*. (or The Internets of Shit Things in a nutshell).

*assuming that the problem in question is "how can I switch on my lights from my iPhone".

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The Register already took that into account in the article:

Setting aside the issue of whether you actually need or want a smart app-controlled lightbulb,

My, they do have a bit of a handle on their readers.

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Devil

My, they do have a bit of a handle on their readers.

Is that the pickaxe handle they regularly use on those of us foolish enough to complain...

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Coat

My, they do have a bit of a handle on their readers.

Indeed they do. And sometimes, it chafes or gets caught on my clothes..

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Facepalm

Smart things need smart solutions!

Smart light bulb is anything but smart. If you rarely want a smart light then the better solution would be to make the light fitting. The bulb would then be simpler to make and should be cheaper.

You could also connect the all you lights together using the wiring you already have to do smart things.

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Re: Smart things need smart solutions!

Or even make the light switch the clever thing...

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Re: Smart things need smart solutions!

I've probably said it before in a similar discussion, but your best bet is probably the smart ceiling rose - assuming you want such a thing. At least as houses are presently wired, there is no permanent power at the switch, which makes it a bit hard to embed smarts - the IKEA stuff mostly uses battery-powered (button cell) controllers, which seems like a retrograde step.

Having just moved to a house with one central ceiling light in a large living room, I'd quite like to be able to install some additional lighting without tearing the walls and ceiling apart to add more cables and switches and having individually controllable lights on a ceiling track (for example) would be quite useful. However, I intend to live here for rather longer than any smart lighting system control app is likely to be maintained and today's generation of lightbulbs is likely to be availalble and I notice that the TRÅDFRI Android app has decidedly mixed reviews. Having previously had an X10 system for more than a decade that I could operate with the TV remote, this does seem like a step backwards.

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Re: Smart things need smart solutions!

"there is no permanent power at the switch"

Wrong. That is what the switch, you know, _switches_ !?

The ceiling rose on the other hand, only gets power when the switch is on. Unless it's wired up 'strangely'...

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Re: Smart things need smart solutions!

No, the switch only has the live side of the circuit, where as the rose will have permanent live, switched live, neutral and earth. At least in civilised countries such as the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simple UK light switch wiring diagram

See e.g. http://www.ultimatehandyman.co.uk/diy/electrics/light_fitting/light_ceiling_rose_single.jpg

Plenty of ten minute Youtube videos to explain the concept in more detail.

When the switch is open it has 230v across it, and the light is off. Historically you could connect a low current device (e.g. a couple of neons) across the switch and they'd light when the switch is open (so you could have a backlit switch), but they wouldn't pass enough current to light the main light.

When the switch is closed, no volts across the switch, and in the absence of a neutral in the switch box there is nowhere to derive power for the neons (or whatever).

Have folk seen the light now?

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Re: Smart things need smart solutions!

You can get the smart light fitting, there's a few makes knocking around. They were double the price of the TP-Link smart bulb I got though and since I was just giving having a smart bulb a go I didn't want to invest that much.

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Re: Smart things need smart solutions!

Not one single rose in any of the houses I've lived in has a permanent live. The feed goes {Ring main} -> [switch] -> [rose] -> [bulb][s]

Return goes [bulb] -> [rose] -> [terminal in switch back-box] -> {Ring main}

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firmware update

Following a firmware update sent late last week, the Trådfri smart lighting system will work with competitor Hue, Philips' wireless lighting system.

What a firmware update giveth, a firmware update can taketh away too!

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FAIL

Re: firmware update

Light bulbs with firmware? FFS!

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Re: firmware update

Read up on Philips smart bulbs. Hint - search for Philips smart bulbs DRM

Enjoy.

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