back to article OK, they're not ROBOT BUTLERS, but Internet of Home 'Things' are getting smarter

The emergence of the Internet of Things has analysts in a froth predicting that by 2020 homes will be awash with clever connected appliances. We’re not talking tablets and TVs here, but the brave new world of white goods, where manufacturers are battling it out to smarten up our cooking, cleaning and security systems. So how …

  1. Jan 0

    "Why anyone would ever want 22 different wash cycles or more is another matter."

    Well, for example, as anyone who's ever owned a Zanussi washing machine will attest, they're well made and long lasting. However, Italian water must have magical powers, because Zanussis fail to rinse thoroughly in the UK. Nowadays they come with a "super rinse" button to add extra rinse cycles, but it's hardly fine tuning. I want a fully consumer programmable washing machine, so that I choose exactly which stages are run and for how long. I want far more than 22 wash programs, I want an infinitely variable wash program. I'd like to discover for myself whether it's possible to devise a washing program for mucky cycle shoes that doesn't wreck them.

    Dyeing fabrics would become much more convenient with a programmable washing machine. Although you can dye some items in a washing machine, the cycle lengths aren't suitable for many combinations of dye and fabric types. (If you've ever done home dyeing in open containers, you'll appreciate having the whole process confined in a self cleaning apparatus.)

    Other fabric treatments, such as "wash in" water repellent treatments could also be improved - the treatment manufacturer might provide a downloadable program.

    With the ability to turn off churning and precise temperature selection, you might even use your washing machine for water bath cooking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Why anyone would ever want 22 different wash cycles or more is another matter."

      Tried several programme settings on my new washing machine before deciding that number "1" was all that was needed for my wash load - usually once every couple of weeks.

      However recently the "spin and empty" setting has become essential. In between washes the drum now has a visible filling of water after a few days - and the programme insists on taking 15 minutes to empty it even though there are no clothes to spin.

      The machine is just coming to the end of its 12 month guarantee. With threats of £100 charge if an engineer can not see a fault it is a tricky one to report. Switching off the electricity at the isolator switch appeared to stop it happening - but more tests are needed to be conclusive. The machine itself has a only an automatic "hibernation" mode - and no mechanical "on/off" switch.

      The joke is that a feature of the machine is an "anti-flood" mechanism that is supposed to prevent such catastrophes. In the past 40 years none of my washing machines have had that problem.

      It reminds me of the notice on my desk in the office "Every solution breeds a new calamity".

    2. Schultz

      Re: "Why anyone would ever want 22 different wash cycles or more is another matter."

      I expect that a smart washing machine allows me to play dumb. Why should I waste time thinking about the duration of the rinse cycle if the machine should be able to figure it out without me? After all, it contains all those smart sensors and can make decisions based on the full engineering brainpower of the manufacturer.

      I love our LG machine that allows me to fill a 19 kg drum with a few briefs and it'll figure out how much water and time it needs without me second guessing it. That's what I call progress!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Why anyone would ever want 22 different wash cycles or more is another matter."

        "[...] it'll figure out how much water and time it needs [...]"

        Just for curiosity - does it also measure out the detergent to match the amount of water?

        1. fruitoftheloon
          Thumb Up

          @AC: Re: "Why anyone would ever want 22 different wash cycles or more is another matter."

          AC (does it measure the detergent...?)

          Our 5 year old Siemens weighs the load like many modern machines, it then tells you what % to fill the typical detergent 'cup' with, which whilst an obvious feature is also useful methinks...

          Cheers,

          jay

  2. MrT

    Smarter may not necessarily be better...

    ... if IoT focuses on the wrong outcome.

    "One of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation creations is the NutriMatic Drink Dispenser. One of which has just provided Arthur Dent with a plastic cup filled with a liquid which is almost - but not quite - entirely unlike tea.

    [NutriMatic dispenser noises]

    ARTHUR:

    Ah. [Takes a sip] Yeugh!! [Spits out liquid]

    NARRATOR:

    The way it works is very interesting. When the ‘Drink’ button is pressed it makes an instant, but highly-detailed, examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject’s metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject’s brain, to see what is likely to be well received. However, no one knows quite why it does this, because it then invariably delivers a cup-full of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smarter may not necessarily be better...

      Would you like some fabric softener in your tea?

      1. David Pollard

        Fabric softener?

        Anything to get rid of the taste of cycle shoes.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    All your pizzas are ours

    You 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. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Re: All your pizzas are ours

      Indeed, scenarios like this /will/ happen if the security is not properly sorted out /now/, including pre-planned support for later firmware/hardware updates for improving security. This is why I'm loath to buy much IoT kit currently, especially anything which needs a dedicated internet server to be usable.

      My internet enabled weather station is my only IoT device and locked down by my router firewall from accessing anything but a single weather site on the internet.

      Possible exploits for IoT devices may include:

      * a central heating system which chills or cooks you, or deliberately wastes energy while you are out.

      * a washing machine which is programmed to badly wash or dry your clothes, even ruin them.

      * a tumble dryer which is programmed to waste energy, ruin your clothes, cause other damage or a fire.

      * a cooking appliance which is programmed to ruin food, waste energy, cause other damage or a fire.

      * an internal sensor(s) used or appliance programmes used to detect when the best time is to steal stuff from you or just spy on you for other nefarious reasons.

      * an electronic lock(s) which is hacked to let thieves or other nefarious people inside.

      * an appliance becomes unusable because your appliance wireless, IoT hub, router or broadband is broken, or had a hacked firmware update..

      I'd need a seriously good reason to allow any device which uses UPnP or manually open internet ports, because that could easily become a massive security risk!

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: All your pizzas are ours

        I couldn't agree more. I'd be happy to jump into the Intranet of Things pool which is securely locked down but that the public petri dish that is the Internet of Things, I'll pass even especially if all I have to do is download an app.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: All your pizzas are ours

        @Infernoz

        My solution is simpler. I don't buy anything that shouldn't need to go online but wants to.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: All your pizzas are ours

      You can literally bank on it happening.

  4. Nigel Whitfield.

    Cheaper power

    We keep hearing of these appliances being able to start when the price of electricity is cheaper. But, other than the old 'Economy 7' fixed times, is that really going to come with the roll-out of smart meters?

    It essentially means the electricity companies will be publishing, minute by minute, a spot price for their electricity, in response to demand. So far, however, we've seen that they don't even manage to reduce the price for consumers month by month when their own costs fall; forgive me if I'm sceptical about their desire to pass on lower prices.

    And, will they pass spot prices, or will they be able to say "low price window for 2 hours" ? What if, for example, there's not a long enough window at a low price for the wash cycle? Does the machine start anyway, and damn the expense at the end (just when, perhaps, it might be doing the drying)? Or does it say "Best wait until there's enough time to do the whole thing cheaply", and leave you to open the door on a load of stinking socks when you were expecting something clean to wear to work?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Cheaper power

      Which lies have you heard about your 'free' smart meter?

      'It will only cost an extra £20 on your bill.'

      'Your bill will only go up by £20 per year.'

      'It will only increase you bill by £20 for the fist year, £40 for the second and £60 for the third.'

      The staged increases in electricity bills have already been approved to cover the cost and installation of smart meters. There is no requirement that bills should go back down afterwards. I am looking forward to MPs getting an e-mail like this:

      I pwn your smart meter. I will let you have power between 12:00 and 13:00. If you want power for a whole month, send me a bitcoin.

  5. DainB Bronze badge

    This is just stupid

    Washing machine - how effing hard is to press a button on damn thing of you still have to go there and put clothes in. And do you really care about application informing when it finished, especially if it's in the middle of the night because electricity is cheaper.

    How many times you are going to change lighting in your apartment after you played with app for 15 minutes and tried every single colour and everything in between ? Zero, most likely.

    And smart fridge that knows how much beer left ? So what ? Anyone able to afford such fridge would have enough brain cells to estimate when he's going to run out of beer. It's not like beer magically appears in that fridge once you run out of it, and, worse, you still need to go there to get one, presumably in the pause between changing mood lighting, anxiously waiting for washing to stop and constantly adjusting thermostat.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: This is just stupid

      Having invented the 'smart fridge' it seems some companies just won't give up on the blasted thing. I suppose having a camera so you can see what's inside is almost an admission that earlier iterations screwed up, because the idea of having to scan everything in and out of your fridge, and thus only ever buying things that had compatible bar codes or RFID tags was clearly bonkers.

      At least with a camera you can buy what the hell you like, and not worry if it's incompatible with the fridge. But still, meh...

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: This is just stupid

        I cant even imagine how we survived by now without camera in a fridge and not died of starvation because fridge did not create shopping list. Oh, wait, we used our brains, something that manufacturers seems do not want us to do anymore.

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: This is just stupid

          Don't worry - The Internet of Brains is up next.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is just stupid

            I clicked on Internet of Brains but nothing happened.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This is just stupid

              The fridge could place an automatic online order to restock items when they run out.

              Reminds me of a supermarket whose local stock ordering system was down for on a day or so. No problem - the main warehouse system had a contingency that would use the historical sales records to maintain deliveries.

              The delivery arrived - and there were vast quantities of lemons. The historical re-stocking had included Shrove Tuesday.

          2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: This is just stupid

            @TheOtherHobbes

            The Internet of Brains won't last long because the Internet of Zombies is already here to eat it.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: This is just stupid

          They want that wonderful profit. Use your brain to sort out the shopping list and their profit may go down because you won't buy their product on your next shopping venture.

      2. Not also known as SC

        Re: This is just stupid

        At least we'll know if the light really goes off when you close the door.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: This is just stupid

        "I suppose having a camera so you can see what's inside"

        But just think of the advantage. You'll be able to check that the light actually does go off.

        1. frank ly

          Re: This is just stupid

          "... check that the light actually does go off."

          That's what small children are for. If you don't have one, borrow one.

        2. VinceH

          With a camera in the fridge...

          "You'll be able to check that the light actually does go off."

          No, you won't! It's a con!

          The light will have to come on whenever you access the image from the camera - at least, that's what they'll tell you - so you still won't truly know if the light goes out, and instead have to continue taking it on faith*.

          * All hail the holy instruction manual, for it doth decree that the light comes on for thee. Or something.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: With a camera in the fridge...

            "The light will have to come on whenever you access the image from the camera - at least, that's what they'll tell you - so you still won't truly know if the light goes out, and instead have to continue taking it on faith"

            In Schroedinger's fridge the light is both off and on.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: With a camera in the fridge...

            Don't forget that you'll be able to prove it wasn't the cat that drank all the milk, but little Timmy...

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. nematoad Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: This is just stupid

        "Having invented the 'smart fridge' it seems some companies just won't give up on the blasted thing."

        You're right. This whole affair smacks of being a solution in search of a problem.

        As others here have said if you have to go to the fridge anyway to collect your beer how hard is it to see how ,many are left? Assuming of course that you have not consumed so many as to be unable to focus.

        And if it's going to be so interconnected and interdependent what happens when something goes wrong. Will all the "smart" appliances shut down?

        It is as my granny used to say "A catch-penny." Much like the LP, CD, download churn that has proven to be a nice little earner for the record companies.

        No thanks.

      6. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: This is just stupid

        "scan everything in and out of your fridge, and thus only ever buying things that had compatible bar codes"

        "Run down to the butcher, we've run out of zebra meat again!"

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is just stupid

      "Anyone able to afford such fridge would have enough brain cells to estimate when he's going to run out of beer."

      Given enough beer he might have run out of brain cells.

    3. BongoJoe

      Re: This is just stupid

      Frankly, the idea of putting beer in the fridge disturbs me.

    4. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Re: This is just stupid

      My new Bosch one (from John Lewis) saves a lot of water and power, has load of programmes (including /fast/ ones), lots of options, is piss easy to operate, quiet, tells you how long a programme will take before you start it, how long it has left to go and beeps when done; all for about £100 less that the LG one, let alone the other rip-offs listed!

      The thing which really needs IoT is central heating and cooking kit, but with proper security and a physical heating on/off flip switch.

      Most central heating controllers are still stuck in the pathetically archaic single zone model, including most commercial IoT ones, including Nest; mechanical radiator thermostat valves only partly improve on this and need a wasteful fixed bleed radiator to bleed pressure until the central heating water pump stops! We should already be able to easily buy affordable prioritised /each/ room-zoned variable temperature programming using automated radiator valves and radiator water flow sensors, with a smart central WiFi and BlueTooth 4 controller designed to dynamically and safely use any appropriate radiator(s) as a full pressure bleed until the central heating water pump stops.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is just stupid

        "mechanical radiator thermostat valves only partly improve on this and need a wasteful fixed bleed radiator to bleed pressure until the central heating water pump stops! "

        On my system there is always a bleed path via a radiator in the two rooms with wall thermostats. These are the rooms that need slightly higher temperatures. The radiator circuits only get water if a appropriate thermostat is calling for it. All the other rooms' radiators have mechanical thermostat valves.

        However - as a homemade system it is in hindsight a bit too clever by using cascaded signals. One plumber has already claimed that a 3 port motorised valve is EITHER A or B open - my standard Honeywell ones are capable of opening both A and B simultaneously.

        My main complaint is that mechanical thermostats seem to have a large hysteresis.

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: This is just stupid

      "Anyone able to afford such fridge would have enough brain cells to estimate when he's going to run out of beer."

      I am often surprised, neigh, agonizingly frustrated, at how many people who can afford things like this are incredibly, incredibly stupid outside of their area of expertise.

      Money truly does cover up a multitude of sins.

  6. Sarah Balfour

    I don't get it…

    WTF would you need an app to control a washing machine…?! Presumably you'd have been there to shove the load in - and, therefore, set the programme - and you'll be there to remove it, so what's the point of the app…? Unless it comes complete with fully-trained monkey butler (maid?) to do the loading/unloading, then I really can't see the point. Central heating/water/lights I get, that makes sense, as would a remotely-controlled cooker/hob, and maybe even a Roomba - but washing machine/dishwasher (unless you'd simply forgotten to switch the latter on, and realised you didn't have anything clean to eat your probably cremated/not cooked tea off/with).

    I can just see one teeny slip - and you'll come back to no house… I have ZERO faith in any of this tech shit actually working. Perhaps we should all just abandon Earth altogether…

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't get it…

      " and you'll be there to remove it, so what's the point of the app…?"

      It's a question of remembering in time to get it outside to dry in the garden. As a wash cycle takes 3 hours - then that is the morning gone. You need to get it out to dry for the whole afternoon especially in winter.

      My current solution is a Hygiplas timer. Quick to set - and unlike mechanical timers it keeps bleeping every second after the end of the period until it is reset. The batteries last for years. However - you have to remember to set it - and you have to double-check that the multi-function button's "bleep" really was the countdown starting. The human is always the weak link.

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        Re: I don't get it…

        One would expect that 1700 quid washing machine already has drier built in.

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: I don't get it…

          I wouldn't. For two reasons.

          If it's nice outside the clothes get dried in the garden. If it's not nice out then the clothes get dried in the drier or on the creel above the fire.

          Either way, getting the clothes out of the rather expensive washing machine means then I can get another load done...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Re: I don't get it…

        Stick it on overnight with timer, built into every machine these days.

        Then it's ready before you are.

        Not hard.

  7. heyrick Silver badge

    Count me out

    Too many opportunities to spaff data to unknown third parties with little to no oversight, and we all know how lovely and secure these things are...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Count me out

      BIG security risk. And it WILL be hacked.

      Just ask that teenager who hacked a BMW for less than $20 of electronic parts.

  8. wiggers

    Plurality of Protocols

    Exactly how many incompatible protocols are mentioned in this article? It's bad enough having apps that only work with minority OSes, but when you are choosing your washing machine according to which flavour of phone you have, or which protocol your fridge uses, it's getting a bit absurd.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Plurality of Protocols

      Which means that either you're locked into a given phone and OS or.... when the phone dies, you replace all the appliances.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big problem (and risk) is connectivity

    We're a long way away from proper IPv6 deployment, so at the moment all of this will need to work through IPv4. Which means NAT. Which means help from an "outside" server to make all this fun happen. Which means a 3rd party in the path between your washing machine (meh), alarm system (uh oh), home camera system (no frigging way) and fancy remote control door lock (try to get the insurance to pay out when you've had a burglary).

    The latter is a clear example that a lot of risk assessment needs to take place before you go near this idea. When you have a mechanical lock, someone needs to be physically there to mess with it. A digital solution can be hacked from any place on the planet and sends details of your absence to whoever has access to it, making it a far less risky exercise to strip your place bare.

    On the home security front there is also another issue - wires. If you decide to avoid wires, it takes but a jammer for your cameras to go blind. Do that a couple of times to simulate a system problem, and nobody will as much as twitch when you then get broken in for real.

    I do NOT trust any 3rd party to have access or control of my home security. If you set this up and you find you need to "create an account", you're dealing with a platform that I wouldn't trust in teh slightest.

    Oh, and as for washing machines - get me one that I can just give a basket of washing. They already have storage to hold washing liquid and softener, but as long as I have to stuff in the washing myself I will also be able to set a timer, and I will know how long it will take - seeing this on remote is not really adding a wow factor in my opinion..

    1. VinceH

      Re: The big problem (and risk) is connectivity

      Amen.

      With the security issues we've seen so far, not to mention the potential privacy issues, and the risks that both of these bring, I don't see any incentive to bother with any of this internet of things guff.

      As I keep saying, for me it's more of a potential internet of unwanted things: iOUT!

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: The big problem (and risk) is connectivity

        Murder by IoT:

        Sneak into someone's house, perhaps via a flaw in their connected lock. Put very heat sensitive compounds close to their dryer and/or oven. Sneak out, wait until they're asleep (and you're safely alibied) and then crank the oven up to full, the dryer on max, and wait for the chemicals to catch fire. I guess after turning the appliances on, for good measure, you could launch a DDoS on their smoke detector, to knock that out of action.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: The big problem (and risk) is connectivity

      In my opinion, there needs to be two classes of IoT devices, master devices and slave devices. The slave devices provide information and RPC to the master device, which then weaves the information and RPC in to user interfaces and controllable actions.

      The user would own both types of devices, the slave devices are cryptographically paired to the master device, and data only passes from slave devices to the master device. The master device can then provide that data to third party internet services based upon the single set of security permissions granted on the master device.

      The current form of "smart home" devices are anything but. They are all "slave devices", which pump your data to a central server on the internet, which then makes the "smart" choices. This hides that your personal data (eg, heating information) is then available for the providing entity to mine or analyze how they see fit. Do Not Want.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. fishman

    Just another point of failure

    IoT means that there is yet another part of the appliance to break.

  12. Christian Berger

    Having worked at an appliance manufacturer

    I can assure you that nobody there has the faintest clue how to actually make this useful. Instead they start proprietary and closed protocolls you cannot get access to, and fail to grasp basic security limitations.

    I mean any normal person would first define a _simple_ standard which is open for everyone to experiment with. Then they'd put it out there in a "build it and they will come" fashion. After all the coolest things will be done by others, not yourself. There is no sensible reason why your own imagination should be the limit. If it is easy enough to embed your appliance into something larger and more useful than a remote operation panel, people will do so, particulary since there's a whole home automatisation industry eager to make custom solutions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Having worked at an appliance manufacturer

      "[...] would first define a _simple_ standard which is open for everyone to experiment with."

      It has always seemed counter-intuitive to call something Simple Network Management Protocol - and then use BER to describe the data.

    2. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Christian Re: Having worked at an appliance manufacturer

      Christian,

      well said Sir, meanwhile back in the real world...

      Regards,

      j

  13. x 7

    I WANT my imagination to be the limit

    I can easily imagine what can (and will) go wrong.

    Therefore I don't want any of this technology.......I'm perfectly happy with a washing machine that washes, a cooker that cooks, a fridge that refrigerates, and toys that keep the missus happy.

    I don't want or need any more than that

  14. BongoJoe
    Terminator

    Currently the dishwasher is having a 'moment'. I can press the GO button it may or may not go for any apparant reason. The washing machine will often start and then decide that it's too much effort and stop the cycle there and then.

    The Bosch oven, that beast with five alarm clocks and an occasional flashing Error 11 message which sometimes requires a reboot by trying to turn it off at the main consumer unit (the power connecter is out of reach behind it).

    If these things all have a mind of their own and decide that, independently of each other, that they want to go on strike then imagine what it would be like if they have the means to get organised.

  15. Demian

    Dangers of "Smart" Meters and Appliances

    re "OK, they're not Robot Butlers ..." by Jennifer Newton

    While this article covered the tech aspects remarkably well, there are three major dangerous issues regarding "smart" appliances that should be addressed.

    = MICROWAVES and Dirty Electricity

    The "smart" meters and appliances communicate via microwaves, and, sometimes, via the electric power lines themselves.

    All radiation is damaging to biological cells.

    The current generation is being exposed to radiation levels never before experienced.

    Additional frequencies added to electric circuits are called "Dirty Electricity," and are, likewise, a threat to biologically health.

    = PRIVACY

    The manufacturing of data, by our use of appliances (including our phones and other computer devices) can, and will, be used against us in a court of law.

    With these "smart" systems, we have no right to remain silent.

    Tracking appliance usage can pinpoint exactly where you would likely be within your home, or where your car is located.

    = HACKING

    ALL computer systems can be hacked.

    Your actual use of electrical power can be changed, and your rates raised, or shut off for alleged unpaid bills.

    Individual homes, or entire grids, can be shut off, due to broken programming, or cyber terrorism.

    = CORPORATIONS RULES

    The major reason for the intense interest in "smart" meters and appliance are the manufacturers, the corporations, which make billions on sales of these items.

    You, the consumer/customer, pay for your own potential sources of illness, and for the loss of privacy.

    Demian

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Dangers of "Smart" Meters and Appliances

      All radiation is damaging to biological cells

      Troll?

      The sun emits vast amounts of radiation, and not all of it is harmess. But if it went away, how long to you think we'd last? No sunlight (radiation) = no life.

      As for traces of RF and Microwaves ... I'd suggest you quit using any equipment that allows you to post messages on the internet, and retire to "enjoy" a 15th century crofter's lifestyle in the Outer Hebrides. Or is ISIL more your style?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    WTF?

    Honestly

    Can't. See. The. Point.

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Honestly

      I've been /looking/ at home automation for years (e.g. X10) and the only thing I could finally justify to myself was replacing the central heating controller with a bluetooth connected one.

      However it is not a commercial controller it is one I built from an arduino, 2 relays, bluetooth module, LCD and two buttons ... costs around a tenner all in. Linked to my home network via bluetooth to a Raspberry Pi 'hub' which manages everything.

      Currently having fun building wireless 'room sensors' to measure temp, humidity, light level + occupancy etc .. I aim to create a system which 'learns' our habits and guesses when the CH and HW need to be switched on/off.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Honestly

        Hope it is well documented for the time when you sell the place - or have to get someone in to do a repair.

        1. Synonymous Howard

          Re: Honestly

          My heating controller is a drop in replacement for the standard controller so is easily rolled back. However I have zero intention of moving home.

          It is all being documented in detail and as I specialise in security, it is most definitely not going to be easily accessible.

      2. fruitoftheloon
        Thumb Up

        @Synonymous Howard: Re: Honestly

        Synonymous,

        now that is what I call a GOOD IDEA, I am more than little nervous about where to start with it all myself regretably...

        Cheers,

        j

  17. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Ifttt

    such a glossed over mention of Ifttt.com considering a lot of the kit mentioned works with it. Why have compatibility between all things when you can have a neat orchestration layer to control all those APIs

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ifttt

      You're solving the wrong problem. http://dilbert.com/strip/1998-10-13

  18. shufflingB
    Facepalm

    Why don't they actually try to solve something useful?

    fwiw here's my list if anyone wants to pass it onto them ...

    1) Sauce pans that do not boil over.

    2) Microwave ovens that know when food is actually cooked (failing something that recognises when the porridge is done and doesn't try to cover it insides with gelatinous goop on a regular basis would be a step forward).

    3) A toaster that knows how to toast and doesn't try to burn your house down.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Why don't they actually try to solve something useful?

      HERETIC! How dare you question the hipness of tech bling?!

      /sarcasm

    2. Christian Berger

      Re: Why don't they actually try to solve something useful?

      "1) Sauce pans that do not boil over."

      Actually such a thing exists. It's called the induction hob. It only heats your sauce pan, not what's around it. It's one of those 1980s inventions which now become common as the patents have expired. The one I've seen uses a colour LCD to display a graphic menue... made out of different shades of grey.

  19. Mephistro Silver badge

    yes, the dishwasher and toaster can talk to each other, but what will the conversation be?

    Mandatory quote:

    Sink: "Sir's accoutrements are precisely where sir has left them, and should the toaster say otherwise I remind sir that it is a wastrel."

    (From Fallout New Vegas Old World's Blues.)

  20. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Stop

    Thanks for this article

    I now have a whole new class of domestic objects to avoid.

    These are interesting technically, and in a 'because we can' sort of way - but I'm fairly certain that had I, in my largely technological life, every had a desire to turn my washing machine on remotely or change the colour of a light bulb, I would have remembered.

    For pete's sake - one of the best things about, say, central heating, is the twin invention of the timer and the thermostat. One provides feedback to the system about the desired temperature and whether it has been achieved; one states when it is required. The ability to control it remotely? Why on earth would I need it? I'm a creature of habit whose comings and goings are controlled largely by the working day and the traffic between me and work, like probably most of the rest of the people who read this...

    As a class we engineers seem to equate 'ooh, that's interesting, I wonder if I can?' with 'ooh, I must replace a perfectly good technology with something else'.

    The majority of these IoT applications seem to replace a simple mechanical switch with an expensive potential headache. We are collectively idiots.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why? For the love of all that's good...

    Why? Why would I want to control my washing machine from my phone, when it comes with a perfectly satisfactory set of controls as standard.

    Why? Why on earth would I want "turning on one device, will activate the whole lot?"

    And why for fecks sake would I want to play with my central heating controls when I'm not at home? Unless it was just to turn it off just to annoy "her indoors"...

    The IoT is still a solution looking for a problem. Let it die, please, please let it DIE!!

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Why? For the love of all that's good...

      So don't use it then. A bit like all the many varied kitchen appliances most of us see as unnecessary.

  22. Doctor_Wibble

    Automatic Video Recorder?

    What will they think of next? (see also 'the deluxe is the one with the real hair'...).

    It seems like the pre-requisite for all of this fanciness is a smartphone or tablet which enables you to choose between all sorts of utterly pointless options.

    If you need an app to figure out how to properly use a domestic appliance then either it is just plain crap or you are not safe to be near complicated machinery like drawers and cupboards.

    All this stuff is based on the premise that we are too busy or too stupid to organise our own lives (or both) and chain us even more strongly to that bleeping thing that increasingly controls our lives (even if by just interrupting all the effing time).

    Mine's the one with the washboard and mangle in the pockets because technology is supposed to make life *easier*.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Automatic Video Recorder?

      "Mine's the one with the washboard and mangle in the pockets because technology is supposed to make life *easier*."

      On a project assignment I was allocated a company apartment - but with a hole where the washing machine fitted. Washing sheets in the shower was a time-consuming pain as there were no self-service launderettes. When I chased for the machine I was told that I should employ one of the local washerwomen. The machine finally arrived - a few weeks before my tour was finished.

      I grew up with the Monday wash using dolly tubs and mangles - and in the winter the drying washing took priority in front of the coal fire. There are several comforts I now appreciate. Number one priority is the washing machine - the second is central heating and double-glazing for when it is ice-inside-the-windows cold. Oh - add to that - not having to wash the coal dust out of the tin bath on a Friday night.***

      ***cue four Yorkshiremen jokes

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Automatic Video Recorder?

        "There are several comforts I now appreciate."

        Number zero: electricity.

        Yes, it was in Yorkshire. How did you guess?

  23. x 7

    " not having to wash the coal dust out of the tin bath on a Friday night."

    Eyup lad you had it soft.

    We 'ad to leave coal dust in't bath to help stop up the leaks. Kept it in place wi' me finger while me mother (or sister) scrubbed me hair wi' wire brush.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] while me mother (or sister) scrubbed me hair wi' wire brush."

      Yep - we had the luxury of a large bar of green Fairy laundry soap. It felt like having your head scrubbed with a brick.

  24. Chris G Silver badge

    Negatve comments

    The general tone of almost all of the comments so far, is negative and that most commentards don't really have a use for the IoT.

    I am with you all, all the way; unfortunately the IoT is being sold to the general public who for the most part are not as tech savvy as El Reg readers and will buy new shiny shinies because they can without any idea of what they really have.

    So prepare yourselves for a riot of hacking, 'can't program the fecking house', house has a mind of it's own, and people suddenly receiving massive utility bills because they set up something wrong/didn't set it up at all/ a lightning strike re-set everything to default (happened to one of my PCs) etc etc.

    Security is going to be the biggest to overcome though, how long have most homes had PCs for now and how many still have no idea of basic security? Now imagine that with dozens of connected items in the home.

    Maybe 'Home IoT Security' is going to be the next best business to be in.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Negatve comments

      A new conjugation perhaps?

      HE is at the leading edge of technology.

      YOU have an unexpected IoT issue.

      I have a headache.

  25. JimmyPage Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ah ... the dream ... the reality

    So this fridge that "knows" how many beers are in it. Does it *really* know.

    Or, (as I suspect) does need a slightly behind-the-scenes tweak of SOMEONE having to scan the beers in, and scan them out again ? In which case you'd be better off keeping your dumb fridge, and putting a whiteboard next to it. If you want it connected, you point a webcam at it.

  26. JDX Gold badge

    I can see some benefits but not sure it's really worth it

    A few thoughts that crossed my head while reading...

    - Run a bath remotely

    - I want toast to pop up and the kettle to boil as the food in the oven is ready

    - Turn the coffee machine/kettle on when my alarm goes off

    - Turn off the TV/lights when I fall asleep

    But these are all bits and pieces. Maybe living in a "connected home" you would naturally find yourself using it in lots of 'obvious' ways that aren't apparent.

    You can already set a timer on your coffee machine, our washing machine lets you program the stop-time so it finishes the load as you get back from work, etc. Is it a case of many minimal gains rather than some revolution?

  27. Tom 38 Silver badge

    The big worry

    We're one step closer to....

    Howdy doodly do. How's it going? I'm Talkie, Talkie Toaster, your chirpy breakfast companion. Talkie's the name, toasting's the game. Anyone like any toast?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: The big worry

      Surely someone's made one of those already?

  28. fruitoftheloon
    WTF?

    What are you on?????

    Dear author[ess],

    a f'ing expensive dryer that will email me when it needs defluffing, you could have a flashing red light on the front eh???

    My lovely non white [black] goods Siemens washing machine tells me when there is fluff to be removed from the filter/outlet, have a guess how it does that, it displays 'Fluff' on the display as you remove the washing, how hi-tech is that?

    A fridge with a [surveillance] camera, I mean that couldn't have any nefarious uses could it?

    Sensors that keep track of how many people are in the house, that won't be much of a target for dodgy folks and users of it with a high nett worth, if you are interested please enquire at burglemenow.com

    If someone seriously believes this drivel that they need a fancy oven with a camera to be able to cook and be more 'social' with there family, well I have a lovely bridge for sale, give me a call and we can sort a good price.

    Btw I love my whizzy tech stuff and gizmos, but it has to do something useful for me at a reasonable price, I have no problem spending money on stuff, I am very good at it, but there has to be a plausible reason.

    /rant

    J

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sitting in a cold home, no coffee, no lights... and can't even wash clothes...

    ...because I misplaced or lost my smartphone.

    Really awesome, all that smart stuff.

  30. fruitoftheloon
    Stop

    @Demian: Re: Dangers of "Smart" Meters and Appliances

    Demian,

    you are an idiot, do us all a favour and do some research on the differences between ionising and non-ionising radiation.

    So I assume that you do not use a mobile phone, have converted your abode into a Faraday cage and never go anywhere that has a wireless network eh?

    Just wondered.

    J.

  31. Martin Budden Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    And in the garage...

    My new (and very cheap) car stereo is controllable with a smartphone app. You're thinking "yeah yeah, so it plays music and takes phone calls, well duh", actually it does other stuff too: I can set up the speaker balance and EQ and other fancy audio stuff in the app, which is a much nicer interface than fiddling with buttons on a car stereo front panel. I am pleasantly surprised by how much functionality there is for such a cheap stereo.

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