back to article Cheap, flimsy, breakable and replaceable – yup, Ikea, you'll be right at home in the IoT world

Ikea has just announced the entry of smart home technology into the mainstream with a new range of lights that can be activated by motion or smartphone app. The Trådfri lineup is quite extensive – four lightbulbs, three light panels, five cabinet lights, and four sensors/gateways – and is so far only available in the company's …

  1. Oh Homer
    Alien

    Yet another offensively pointless First World problem

    Oh the dilemma of choosing which colour of lighting shall illuminate my barely used kitchen today.

    Seriously?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yet another offensively pointless First World problem

      There is a single light of philistinism, and to dim it anywhere is to dim it everywhere.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Yet another offensively pointless First World problem

        Master Yoda, I presume?

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Yet another offensively pointless First World problem

      But interesting from the IoT aspect. Lots of people are converting to the method of running WiFi to different floors via the mains ring. I wonder how hard would it be to hack through that iOS app into someone's home networks (always assuming their WiFi password isn't as simple as 'password')?

  2. Herby Silver badge

    Lightswitches...

    Still cost less than $1.00 at the local hardware store, and don't need monthly maintenance fees to keep working. Looks like a bargain to me.

    Dimmer switches are a little more (a little over $5.00) if you want control.

    Good enough for me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lightswitches...

      Why are yanky switches and sockets so ugly and flimsy looking?

      For only £1.50 you can get something like MK K4870WHI which looks and feels like a light switch should. Understated, with a smooth face, no grooves to collect dirt. Apple wishes they could design that.

      There's nothing worse than waking up to a 2-pin socket and wide vulgar switch, to remind you that you're staying in a cheap French hotel.

      Maybe if your existing switches were more aesthetic and ergonomic, people would be less inclined to replace them with a gimmick.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lightswitches...

        There's nothing worse than waking up to a 2-pin socket and wide vulgar switch, to remind you that you're staying in a cheap French hotel.

        Hmm. Let's say I hope I have other things to watch when I wake up in a cheap French hotel..

        :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lightswitches...

          Let's say I hope I have other things to watch when I wake up in a cheap French hotel

          What? Like the overwhelming smell of piss coming from the street? That is only Paris my friend. Not all of France.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lightswitches...

            According to many Frenchmen, Paris is not part of France. It is on its own Planet that they would like to see nuked tomorrow.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lightswitches...

              Many think the same about London....wonder if it is said about most capital cities.

              1. 's water music Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Lightswitches...

                Many think the same about London....wonder if it is said about most capital cities.

                That it is not part of France? If pressed, almost all people I would have thought.

                1. Toltec

                  Re: Lightswitches...

                  "That it is not part of France? If pressed, almost all people I would have thought."

                  What have the Normans ever done for us?

                  1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                    London part of France?

                    Apparently, if you go by the headcount of French citizens living in a place, London is the sixth largest French city.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: London part of France?

                      Apparently, if you go by the headcount of

                      I'd guess it's probably Turkey's third largest city on that basis, Nigeria's fourth, Pakistan's fifth, Ireland's largest, and so forth.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Lightswitches...

                Dublin, to be sure to be sure.

              3. Paul Woodhouse

                Re: Lightswitches...

                Certainly most Taiwanese aren't huge fans of TaiPei...

                the film, Cape no 7, starts with the immortal words "Fuck TaiPai"

              4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

                Re: Lightswitches...

                Most capital cities that are not Paris are not in France. There, I said it.

              5. Anonymous Coward
                Joke

                Re: Lightswitches...

                Reminds me of the Irish joke:

                "Did you hear the one about the Englishman, the Irishman, and the Dublinman?"

            2. John H Woods Silver badge

              Re: Lightswitches...

              I rememberasking a Norman farmer, in my terrible schoolboy French, whether the locals objected to the Brits buying up loads of property. "Of course not," he replied, "it keeps the Parisians out!"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lightswitches...

          If the hotel is cheap, I'm sure you will quickly turn your head away, and look at the switches and plugs...

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Lightswitches...

        "There's nothing worse than waking up to a 2-pin socket and wide vulgar switch, to remind you that you're staying in a cheap French hotel.".

        Where is your imagination. Not waking up. Her not waking up ...

        PS. why staying in a cheap hotel.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Lightswitches...

      LIght switch - 1£

      Dimmer switch - 5£

      Presense switch - 10£.

      I have had my kitchen, bathrooms and hallways wired for presence for 12 years now. It works. Saves money (both leccy and bulb runtime). Does not need an I Do IOT 85£ device from Ikea.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Lightswitches...

        A presence switch that works with modern lights? I don't think you'll get it that cheap. The reason being presence switches work like dimmers, and many modern lights don't work well with dimmers (thus the label "non-dimmable"). You either need dimmable bulbs or presence switches designed for use with non-dimmable lights (those tend to be industrial-grade for use with fluorescent office lights--more expensive).

        PS. As for being able to get up and flick a switch. there are handicapped people out there who CAN'T.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Lightswitches...

          The reason being presence switches work like dimmers, and many modern lights don't work well with dimmers (thus the label "non-dimmable").

          Not because they "work like dimmers", but the way those presence switches and dimmers are built the cheaper ones need a minimum, resistive, load. And LED bulbs (CFL too) are not resistive, and don't satisfy the minimum load.

          PS. As for being able to get up and flick a switch. there are handicapped people out there who CAN'T.

          Those who are disabled like that already have been using remote controls, fitted to their wheelchair or about their body on a lanyard, since they became available, decades before IoT.

      2. Valerion

        Re: Lightswitches...

        I have had my kitchen, bathrooms and hallways wired for presence for 12 years now. It works. Saves money (both leccy and bulb runtime). Does not need an I Do IOT 85£ device from Ikea.

        Quite a few years back, a place I used to work at had presence detecting lights in the men's toilets . The problem was the timeout was too short. If you were lucky enough to be left alone for a reasonable-sized shit, the lights would all go out. There were windows to the outside, but if it was 5pm on a January evening, you were stuck in the dark. The only options were to wait for someone to come in, or hike up your trousers, fumble about and unlock the door and make a quick dash out the cubicle to get the light on again, before scurrying back into hiding.

    3. Gnomalarta
      Alert

      Re: Lightswitches...

      At least our deaths through lack of exercise will be wondrously illuminated!

  3. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Not Ikea, but Lego

    That's what I want. I want a building block that slots in nicely, is easy to switch out, doesn't phone home (not that I'm particularly singling out Ikea on this), and connects to just the stuff that we want it to. All the ancillary stuff to do with data collection and actuation (as well as the logic glue that holds sensor nets together) should be done in a secure manner using your own properly-firewalled home network subnet (and possibly a portal via a secure VPN for secure control when outside). All this stuff about connecting to some mothership can go stick its head in a pig.

    Causing excruciating pain when you step on it barefoot is optional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Ikea, but Lego

      "Causing excruciating pain when you step on it barefoot is optional."

      I'll take Lego and raise you a Stikle brick.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Not Ikea, but Lego

      Causing excruciating pain when you step on it barefoot is optional.

      Pah. DIL chips, and especially their sockets with turned pins. And they never lay on the floor pins down.

  4. Sureo

    Now Ikea has to change its name to iKea.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      iKea an electronic parrot... see Kea

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Why?

    Exactly how does this benefit anyone... other than those rare beings called "hipsters" that want to control everything from their phone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      Exactly how does this benefit anyone... other than those rare beings called "hipsters" that want to control everything from their phone?

      Well, there ARE some arguments for it. You could, for instance, ensure you really only have that one night bulb on and the rest is out - energy saving stuff (assuming the controlling computer doesn't use more energy than the bulbs), you can make the house look populated whilst away, you can push them all on in case of emergency and it's about the only signal you can send teenage kids wearing headphones that it's really time for bed (or text them :) ).

      The issue is that it's generally a costly exercise. A standard LED bulb costs peanuts these days but one with remote control costs a LOT more because it's "new" and not sold in volume. IKEA putting its global purchasing power behind it may change that. Even if that just makes non-remote bulbs cheaper you win :).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Meh

        Re: Why?

        "ensure you really only have that one night bulb on and the rest is out -"

        Flicky switch on wall does that.

        " you can make the house look populated whilst away,"

        £2 mechanical switch does that for both lighting and the radio. In fact even better, most TV's these days have on / off timers. Looking at the house a night and seeing the flicker of a TV screen is going to be far more convincing than lights going on and off randomly in a silent house with no movement.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          I have one better: iTeenager beta v3.

          "While away iTeenager will make your home look populated. Would-be burglars with be thwarted by the amount of unwashed dishes strewn around the kitchen, all lights being left on late into the night and both the television and house sound system left on full volume. iTeenager completes the home security aspect with an occasional random teenager party*. Available now at a limited time (between 13 and 19)"

          * Remember: the cost of all damages and lost valuable wine collections is YOUR responsibility.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why?

            I have one better: iTeenager beta v3.

            There is no way on earth you're going to convince me that that is cheaper than pricey remote control lightbulbs. Definitely more entertaining, sure, but also *way* more expensive.

            :)

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Why?

              Definitely more entertaining

              You missepled "frustrating"

              1. nematoad Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Why?

                You missepled "frustrating"

                And you misspelled misspelled!

          2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Re: Why?

            They can have the wine.. Its the liquor cabinet I'm worried about.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Why?

          Flicky switch on wall does that.

          Only those bulbs connected directly to that particular switch.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why?

        Do you really believe crooks are so stupid they fear some light bulbs on? There are several creative and simple techniques they employ to know if someone is really at home or not. CCTV cameras and alarm systems are more effective - if they work correctly and don't become another issue themselves.

        In case of emergency, you may *not want* to turn on all the lamps. In some situations, could be better to cut off the main power and activate specific emergency lights, which won't create more issues.

        Still, with many light points I can understand the ease you can switch configurations, say from a "dinner" one with lamps on over the table, to another with more indirect, subdued lights for TV watching or music listening, with a single command (it would also need better lamps with a true continuous spectrum, but that's another issue)

        But the last thing I wish is the need of a mobile phone and a specific app to control that - both I guess will become obsolete and unsupported before the lamp fails. Also, in larger home, you'll have to bring your phone with you everywhere (and sometimes you have not a pocket where to put it) - it's instead the home system that should tell me if someone is calling.

        There could be other uses - for example in countries where roller shutters are common could be very useful to control them, especially when they are several. But again, it has to be a reliable system useful for years - and that doesn't match well the quick obsolescence of smartphones and apps.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          And, if it's anything like their other stuff, Ikea tend to retire product lines after a while

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Why?

            And, if it's anything like their other stuff, Ikea tend to retire product lines after a while

            For values of "a while" that equate to "not yet" even after nearly four decades for Billy bookcases, and at least three for Ivar racks.

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Why?

              "For values of "a while" that equate to "not yet" even after nearly four decades for Billy bookcases, and at least three for Ivar racks."

              Billy bookcases might have the same name, but they have changed. Current Billy bookcase shelf supports are not backwards compatible. I found that one out last year.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          "Do you really believe crooks are so stupid they fear some light bulbs on? There are several creative and simple techniques they employ to know if someone is really at home or not. CCTV cameras and alarm systems are more effective - if they work correctly and don't become another issue themselves."

          Many crooks lack the tools to make effective checks. They're just lightning-raid burglars out for a quick score. You can't rely on the phone because many people screen calls through the answering machine first (so won't answer in any event). Knocking and any other physical test runs the risk of drawing attention of the neighbors.

          "In case of emergency, you may *not want* to turn on all the lamps. In some situations, could be better to cut off the main power and activate specific emergency lights, which won't create more issues."

          Those are infrequent, and in any event, just about anything that could make the mains dangerous could make the emergency lights dangerous, too (because they're also electric). The main reason you want the lights on is because it may be night or otherwise hard to see, and the main goal in these situations is to just get the heck outta there, which may be difficult in low-light conditions.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Why?

            Those are infrequent, and in any event, just about anything that could make the mains dangerous could make the emergency lights dangerous, too (because they're also electric).

            Proper emergency lights are battery powered, and do not pose additional fire hazards because of their mains connection (if they even have one). So if you have those you can cut the mains if you need to, which will make the mains-connected emergency lights come on. And emergency lighting is often a feature on upmarket smoke/heat detectors.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Why?

            "Do you really believe crooks are so stupid they fear some light bulbs on?"

            yes. google "dumb crook file"

            (actually not FEAR, more like "not an easy target" - that is the logic)

            /me leaves some lights on 7/24, and you can never know whether I'm home or not (at a glance).

          3. LDS Silver badge

            Re: Why?

            "Many crooks lack the tools to make effective checks".

            Believe me, you don't need sophisticated tools. A piece of paper may be enough. Many burglars study and know well what they raid, especially when the target is valuable enough.

            "could make the emergency lights dangerous, too "

            No, because emergency lights are designed as such, using low power, low voltage lamps, for example. Also, if there is smoke, lots of lights on and positioned high will just make the situation more confused. And with fire or flood, it could be better to cut off the main power and rely on battery powered emergency lights.

      3. Dan 10

        Re: Why?

        "turn them all on in case of emergency"

        I came home one night to find evidence of a break-in. I stalked around the house wielding a bottle of wine I'd just won in the pub quiz, switching lights on as I went. Once upstairs, I was down to checking the last couple of rooms when everything went dark. All I could think of was Private Hudson "What do you mean, "they" cut the power?!"

        The fuse had blown.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone who has ever tried to find one of those uniquely designed metal thingymajigs to fix their Ikea furniture knows that the company is its own self-contained universe. (Likewise just about every other Ikea fitting.)

    You know, allen keys (aka hex wrenches) are not as rare as you seem to think :). I tend to use my own sets as they're made of better material and have a ball joint on one end. As for missing bits, go to their Customer Services - they have free spares.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Also Screwfix do those metal locking dowel things they use.

    2. thesykes

      We had some small plastic pegs break on a storage box, customer services didn't have any, but, a week later a pack of them arrived at home, posted from Sweden. Not bad service that.

    3. Sam Therapy

      Yup. Most of their hardware and fittings are commonly available anyhow.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While you're up Love...

    Use the Trådfri to switch on the Grådlu, Honkou and Vårtpe...Ta.

  8. AIBailey

    How many Ikea shoppers does it take to change a läijtbulb?

  9. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Kieren mate, some of us might like to know some more basic information about light bulbs, such as their output, and perhaps whether they are LED or CFL, 'cos at the end of the day (I'm using this literally, not as a cliche :- ) ) it gets dark, so are these mood lights, or will they fully illuminate a room, or are they dimmable,.... I guess I could let Google translate have a stab at telling me this on the .se Ikea site but that's probably more effort than I'm willing to put in, for a product I can't yet buy.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      If it's IKEA the bulbs will be LED, they've stopped selling any other type. Still a good place for cheap bookcases, though.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Main thing I buy at Ikea is cheap (non smart) lights (only drawback is they only sell screw not bayonet fixing), their buying power makes them the best nearby (to me) bricks & mortar shop to grab a few lights (coupled with their cheap breakfast)

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          BA vs ES

          (only drawback is they only sell screw not bayonet fixing)

          Personally I wouldn't see that as a drawback. Especially since E27 bulbs are quite widely available in UK. Even supermarkets stock them if you need one in an emergency.

          I've never seen a wobbly/loose E27 socket, whereas same can't be said for the B22d. Seems even more evident when comparing E14 and BA15d. No doubt this is mostly due to some manufacturers using cheap crap sockets/mounts and BA seems to suffer more than ES.

        2. thesykes

          Just buy their bayonet to screw adaptors. Raises the height of the bulb slightly so won't suit all fixings.

        3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          It might be time to adopt ES though, I have SBC in one light, and they are getting harder and harder to find as a candle bulb. Last time I found some I bought all the ones on the shelf.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Ah, I had not noticed that, been a while since I bought any lighting products there. Probably won't be buying any bulbs from them, as I just checked out their wares, and there's nothing that's going to look ok in any of my chandeliers, or provide enough output (they have some quaint looking LED bulbs, but with rather low output) in my other lights with shades. All this technology is fine, but white plastic looks out of place in a Victorian house.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you can get out your mobile phone and turn on the light...

    Or: "You can also get out your chair and hit the switch. The latter approach is usually faster".

    You forget the other, even better solution, involving less effort: just ask somebody else to do it, even if both you and (possibly) your smartphone are closer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: you can get out your mobile phone and turn on the light...

      "You can also get out your chair and hit the switch. The latter approach is usually faster".

      On entering the lounge in the evening I press the button on a Byron remote control - simple local 433MHz technology. That switches on the socket for the table lamp on the other side of the room.

      With manual switches I would have to turn on the room's main lights - cross the room - switch on table lamp - cross the room - switch off main lights - cross the room and then sit down to read El Reg.

      Leaving the room would entail a similar criss-crossing the room pattern - unless I grope my way across in the dark.

      Remote switches are useful - in some situations. Another remote socket is for the Netgear D1500 router by the phone master socket in the hall. Several times a day it locks up due to some external condition that BT can't diagnose. The only way to clear the problem is to switch it of/on. Climbing two flights of stairs each time is not the best solution.

      1. Chris Hance

        Still not sure about the app-controlled part...

        Re the Netgear router. "Ok, I'm using my phone to power cycle my router, and being a phone app, of course they route all traffic through their servers. Great, sending the off command now. Let's wait 10 seconds. ... And now to send the on command... huh, 'cannot reach your IoT gateway. Check that it is plugged into your network.'"

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Wired ports

    "On top of which, no one but no one wants to have five different gateways all plugged into your modem or router. Most households have a router that takes, at most, four Ethernet cables."

    I would expect at least some of those gateways to be able to connect wirelessly. Especially Apple's, because cables are sooooo ugly. The other option, adding a 5..8 port desktop switch should be something most salesdroids, even those with a zits/IQ ratio of over 2.3, should be able to suggest.

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Racing towards the next 3D TV

    > the smart lightbulb, there is still nothing compelling enough to justify the extra cost.

    Correct.

    There is nothing "smart" about having to turn on a light. It doesn't matter if that activation is by taking a couple of seconds flicking a wall-mounted switch or diddlin' around with a smartphone for ten times that length of time.

    A smart light knows when it should be on. That is all there is to it.

    Most people know this and therefore are not seduced by the geeky draw of needing to send a signal through several networks, possibly across many continents - and then another one right back into the same room, just to turn the lights on. Apart from anything else, what benefit does this offer?

    And that is the key: people want benefits, not features. Until someone can convince me that spending 100 nicker on a lightbulb (that will probably be software-obsolete before the bulb's hardware dies) is a good idea, I'll stick with what I have, thanks.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Racing towards the next 3D TV

      A smart light knows when it should be on.

      Beware the introduction of defocused temporal perception. Especially if you don't have a basement.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: Racing towards the next 3D TV

        S'ok. I know where my towel is.

        But I'm never going to give my lightbulbs a pension plan.

        (cripes! 40 years and still going strong)

    2. cork.dom@gmail.com

      Re: Racing towards the next 3D TV

      I have Hue bulbs in my house and i absolutely love them. I live in a 4 story house and cannot hear my doorbell from the kitchen. The lights are in the kitchen. My solution : A motion sensor to change them to red when someone is at my front door.

      I have an IFTTT recipe that automatically changes my lighting in the kitchen to a different colour once an hour. It provides a great ambiance. Only slightly annoying it if selects a dim colour when i am cooking, but a 2 second flick of the switch on and off again sets them back to normal 'white'.

      Also - the bulbs last for 15 yrs (advertised) and are very efficient. I don't need an internet connection to change the colours, nor even the hub. So i would love them even without the internet connectivity.

      So you might be right in asking why do we 'NEED' internet connected lightbulbs. We dont need that functionality, but it can be useful. But you are missing the point that LED smart bulbs are fantastic in their own non-connected way just by being so beautiful.

      But i have always been a sucker for lights.

      P.S : It doesnt take 10 times longer to use the app - mainly because you can create widgets / shortcuts. And if you have got a decent quick phone that unlocks using finger prints i can actually change my lighting more quickly than i can using the wall switch (unless i am standing next to the wall switch). Also with Hue you can buy physical switches. They have already overcome all your objections. :)

  13. John Robson Silver badge

    If the lights can dim properly....

    Then I might be tempted. I only really need it for the kids' bedroom mind...

    Although the hall might not be a bad idea.

    Having gone fully LED throughout the house there is an issue that even 'LED specific' dimmer switches don't actually dim LEDs very far. If these lights can actually run properly low level, then I can forgive them a lot.

    Plonk the ZigBee gateway on a Sewer VLAN...

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: If the lights can dim properly....

      bigclivedotcom explained why house hold dimmers don't work with LED bulbs on YouTube. Very interesting video, and reasons for why they don't really work.

      I kitted my house out with LED bulbs when I bought it, and I think its the best thing I ever did. However, I would like to say that you should avoid buying Meridian LED bulbs from Toolstation. I did, I bought 5 of them. Over the course of 3 months with light/moderate use they all stopped working.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: If the lights can dim properly....

        But dimmers sold as 'LED compatible' really ought to be able to manage it...

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: If the lights can dim properly....

          "But dimmers sold as 'LED compatible' really ought to be able to manage it..."

          They can manage it, to a point. The problem with dimming LED bulbs is to do with the waveform of the electricity reaching the bulb. Thats an issue with both the dimmer and the bulb.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: If the lights can dim properly....

            "Thats an issue with both the dimmer and the bulb."

            And when the LED claims to be dimmable, and the dimmer module claims to be LED compatible it's a problem with the manufacturers.

            And I'm wondering whether letting lamps do their own dimming isn't that bad an idea.

            The issue will always be the comms... I still think that with LEDs we should be doing lighting over Cat5...

            PoE and control signals from the same place, all cabled, all simple.

            Only works in new builds or major refurbs though...

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: If the lights can dim properly....

              "And when the LED claims to be dimmable, and the dimmer module claims to be LED compatible it's a problem with the manufacturers."

              Or it could be a problem with physics, as in you can't make LED lights dim too much without them starting to act funny or cutting out early.

  14. Just Enough
    Big Brother

    I'm Listening

    "That is, when the machine hears you correctly."

    Oh don't worry, it hears you. It hears every word you say.

    1. Chunes

      Re: I'm Listening

      Except for the actual commands.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I'm Listening

      Oh don't worry, it hears you. It hears every word you say.

      I hear that girl Alexa knows quite a bit of gossip...

  15. AndrewDu

    "Very few houses are going to invest in extra networking gear just to be able to turn a light on and off with an app when you are five feet from the switch anyway."

    Uh-huh.

    So why would you EVER want to turn a light on or off with an app when you are five feet away from the switch?

    Fools and their money...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who needs anything?

      1. Because it's something plugged in at floor level and you have arthritis

      2. Because you can

      3. Because you aren't always 5 feet away from the switch

      4. Because getting up would cause the pizza/beer to fall to the floor

      5. Because you are trying that smooth seduction thing and want to dim the lights and fade up the Mantovani

      6. Because spending ages trying to get JSON config files correctly formatted to turn a light on automatically at sunset is more fun than doing the washing up

      7. Because you don't want to be that old git muttering that this new fangled electric light is just not the same as gas light/candles/bundles of flaming reeds.

      1. Chunes

        Re: Who needs anything?

        I like #2 the best, since it serves for most of the IoT world.

  16. biscuit

    Unix has runlevels. I'd love to be able to just set a runlevel on each socket in my house and then tell the house which runlevel to use.

    Runlevel 1 would be when I'm on holiday - just the freezer, fridge and hard disk recorder, and then the other Runlevels would be for different times of day/etc.

    Does this already exist. If not, I'm keeping it secret until I've built it using a Raspberry Pi and a load of relays.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Runlevels

      KNX has what they call 'scenes', which are basically stored settings for whatever is connected through the appropriate controllers. Other home control systems likely have something similar. Adding wall socket adapters (or having all applicable sockets wired up through your control system of choice) would offer what you want.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      It'll be fine until some prat creates V2.0 and replaces the run levels with systemd

    3. batfink

      I've been using LightwaveRF these past few years. Replaced a number of strategic power outlets with Lightwave ones, ditto for strategic light switches. Obviously I didn't do the whole house as there are lots of lights etc that I don't care to be able to control remotely. Part of the ecosystem is a wireless wall switch which can set various "moods" - ie set various things on/off, set light levels and whatever else floats your boat. As a lot of the lights in my loungeroom are either standard lamps, cabinet lights etc, having One Switch To Control Them All works well for me (and pleases Mrs Fink).

      You can also do thermostats, radiators, boilers, roller blinds etc, but frankly I CBA. A double controllable power outlet costs ~£30 IIRC.

      I've also added the gateway, so I can also use the app to do all manner of fancy things, including setting up timer patterns for things - that might suit your needs fine. I commonly only use one of them, which is of course my "switch lights on/off while I'm not there" pattern. Oh, and the one which switches some of the lights off at 11pm, o remind me to go to bed...

  17. Moosh

    Working for NEST Pensions

    I can only say that I hate Nest with a passion - for no reason other than that they share a name with us.

    *shakes fist*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Working for NEST Pensions

      Reminds me of the start of a new TV series many years ago. A restaurant is to be called Robin's Nest. The opening scene is a sign painter doing the name in big letters over the front of the building.

      When the painter had finished he walks over to the owner and says "All done Mr Snest"....

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Working for NEST Pensions

      That's not so bad... Remember Gain.gator? Made many, many folks very angry and want retribution.

      I was senior sysadmin at Gain Communications, a small ISP in Tucson, Arizona - care to guess how many of those many, many angry folks called to complain/threaten/scream due to similarity of names?

      It was a bad time.

  18. Psymon

    I think there are more substantial problems holding back home automaion

    Well, I can so no problems arising from this, at all! The IOT security problem is already becoming an epidemic.

    It's an interesting article, though I think that take-up is hampered by a few other factors. Firstly, most homes simply aren't designed for easy routing of cabling between rooms.

    This has been a common bugbear for me. Being an IT geek, I've been exposed to this inconvenience a lot longer than most people, but the average Joe is starting to notice the problem when they want a set-top box a different bedroom. It's needlessly difficult and expensive.

    These problems have been solved in business buildings with false floors, ceilings, cable conduits and hollow skirting built into the structure at the design stage.

    It's high time we saw these technologies adapted and made attractive for homes.

    The second is that few of these companies are addressing the truly attractive part of a smart home; heating.

    It's all very well switching lights on and off, but that's a gimmick, whereas smartly controlled heating provides genuine benefits such as saving money, adapting to changes in weather, and individually adjusting for each room. Again, this is hampered by cable routing.

    Even at its' crudest, this would be a huge improvement over existing heating systems. Everyone knows, especially at this time of year the constant adjustment is a pain. The house suddenly drops cold, takes ages to warm back up again, then you wake up sweating in the morning because you forgot to adjust the timing, or today is warmer than yesterday.

    It's relatively simple to set up, too. Obviously you have a central control, a temperature sensor in each room, an external sensor, and a servo on the valve of each radiator.

    Putting to one side the expense of controlling the boiler itself, the rest SHOULD be relatively cheap, if it wasn't that most British houses simply aren't designed for easily running new cables.

    Instead, running cables requires ripping up floor boards, removing and replacing plaster which in turn leads to redecorating and wildly escalating expense.

    You might ask "what's the point in drastically changing architecture for something that happens so rarely?".

    In return I ask you this: Why do you think it happens so rarely? How often have you re-arranged a living room and thought "I wish we have a couple more sockets here instead of over there". And I'll wager that's as far as you got, because it's such a pain to move sockets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think there are more substantial problems holding back home automaion

      "Obviously you have a central control, a temperature sensor in each room, an external sensor, and a servo on the valve of each radiator."

      I looked at a system like that at least 20 years ago - IIRC by a Danish company. The important bit was the external sensors. The system learned how the house heat loss correlated with external conditions.

      The idea was that you specified at what time you wanted the house warm - and the system calculated when it had to start the heating in the current weather conditions. It also uprated the nominal room temperature in the evening as that was when people would be sitting about - compared to the morning when they would be quite active.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think there are more substantial problems holding back home automaion

      "I wish we have a couple more sockets here instead of over there".

      When the top two floors of the house had to be gutted and rebuilt - it was an ideal time to improve the cabling.

      Every room now had new power sockets, phone sockets, and aerial sockets to serve many different potential furniture combinations. Unfortunately CAT5 did not exist at that time.

      The lounge went from something like two power sockets to a total of 21 ...and I still have extensions plugged into two of them.

      The TV/FM was fed from an 8 way distributor in the roof space. Only one of the several sockets in a room can be active - and the rest are blanked - with coax connectors doing a daisy chain. Unfortunately the standard 75ohm cable is a bit inflexible. Trying to mate a pair of coax connectors in a single unit pattress box is tricky. The thinner type that is common nowadays would have been better.

      The builders wanted to nail the new floor covering to the joists - but instead the ply boards are screwed. They can be lifted easily - once the necessary furniture and carpet has been removed.

      1. Psymon

        Re: I think there are more substantial problems holding back home automaion

        "I looked at a system like that at least 20 years ago - IIRC by a Danish company. The important bit was the external sensors. The system learned how the house heat loss correlated with external conditions."

        Yes, I've heard about these types of systems for a long time, too. I also looked into them, and while the initial cost was steep, but still feasible, once you added the installation, it was just too pricey.

        "Every room now had new power sockets, phone sockets, and aerial sockets to serve many different potential furniture combinations. Unfortunately CAT5 did not exist at that time."

        Absolutely. Modern offices are designed with conduits, so that more cables can be pulled or replaced without major structural reworking, and your CAT5 is a prime example of why this is important.

        Americans have it a lot easier, because most of their houses are built with hollow wooden walls, and it's not uncommon to see houses with access panels in the floor.

        Something as simple as a central vertical conduit linking all the floors of the house (in lieu of a chimney) would reduce modernisation costs of a property drastically. Then a channel running around the edge of each room in the floor, and linked to each other room through the walls would make cabling and piping a doddle.

        Of course, gas, water and electricity would need to be segregated, but that shouldn't be a huge engineering feat.

        "I have dabbled in IoT and without doubt the one product I thoroughly recommend to anyone would be Nest (closely followed by Hue bulbs)."

        Thank you. It sounds pretty awesome. Certainly something I've wanted for some time. I definitely think more people would go for heating automation if it wasn't for the cost of installation.

        I also agree with the article in regards to open standards. These systems would be a lot more attractive if your average plumber could just nip to B&Q and grab a "smart radiator valve" off the shelf.

        1. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

          Re: I think there are more substantial problems holding back home automaion

          I flood wired my house with s/ftp while converting it from a cow barn, but ran in conduit too, which was great when 7 years into the build (*ahem* I've been a bit slack finishing it) the main 3phase power cable off to the seperate building with the office/server room blew up. Although pulling in 35m of 10mm swa to replace it was hard work and involved abuse of landrover winch, its not nearly so bad as to have to dig up the downstairs floor with underfloor heating laid after it.

          Its mandatory over here. No conduit, no conforming, no new connection to the mains grid.

          I also wired back my lighting to 4 principle junction points and ran dark s/ftp to the boxes, now 7 years later a ATmega1280 powered controller has started living in each node point and Ive got my own home rolled automation all talking on a private vlan, no ikea, wireless, chinese servers or gateways required. The wall switches still act as local controls, but its networked, reports events to keep things updated, a isolating server sits between the devices and the internet etc. Controls my heating too, along with various sensors etc.

          Once the conduit and logical control points are ran in, you can refresh it with whatever comes along later. I can revert back to light switches too with a days rewiring of patching in the boxes.

          I did all this because I went overboard about 16 years ago with x10, and shit and unreliable as that system is, both me and my wife do miss having automation when it works properly.

    3. cork.dom@gmail.com

      Re: I think there are more substantial problems holding back home automaion

      I have Nest and it is superb. I have definitely noticed a not-insignificant reduction in my heating bills (estimated 10-15% per annum). Not to mention the fact I have completely eliminated the irritation of messing about with my timers in Spring and Autumn - as you mentioned in your post. That would have been worth the cost alone without the money savings.

      I have dabbled in IoT and without doubt the one product I thoroughly recommend to anyone would be Nest (closely followed by Hue bulbs).

      P.S I dont work for Nest. Just a very happy customer.

  19. techulture

    "Wirefree" ...

    "Trådfri" literally translates to "wirefree", whereas "wireless" is properly "trådlös" (or sometimes "sladdlös", which is really "cordless"). So the name is a word play.

  20. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Has anyone thought of the nightmare ZigBEE Frequency hopping is going to cause with those lovely fellows still working on 2.4GHz?

    I know its caused no end of issues in our catering department.

  21. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Cheap, flimsy, breakable

    You never bought anything from MFI, did you ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheap, flimsy, breakable

      "You never bought anything from MFI, did you ?"

      Exactly my thoughts too - and Woolies. IKEA stuff is usually good for the purpose. The things I bought over 20 years ago are not showing any problems. The only casualty was a pine shelf that gradually bowed slightly under the weight of a 21 inch CRT monitor.

      The first time I walked round an IKEA store - it was impressive that they loaded their display bookcases with real books. MFI used thin cardboard boxes that looked like a line of books. Not surprising - the MFI shelves couldn't take any real weight.

      A Swedish friend exiled in England used to sit down and read the books in IKEA. They were in Swedish and often hard to find in the UK. Unfortunately IKEA wouldn't sell any to her.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Cheap, flimsy, breakable

        When I went from saying "whatever you like dear" to kitting out my bachelor pad, I bought a fair amount of furniture quickly from Ikea and some more upmarket Swiss places. The Ikea stuff has been excellent, the not cheap sofa I'm sitting on now will probably have to be replaced after only a few years.

  22. Mike Flugennock

    You forgot something...

    That said, this is very far from cutting-edge technology and it suffers many of the same issues that have stymied growth in the smart home market. Most significantly: a lack of interoperability and the need for a gateway...

    ...and the near total lack of fucks given by all the folks out here who are being constantly pestered to buy IoT tomfoolery.

  23. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    I'm after a light switch I can buy for my living room with two switches on it. One normal one for the main light and one with a remote control attached that will turn on a plug socket on the other side of the room ( so it looks like a two-switch light switch ).

    Anybody have any suggestions? I'm too lazy to run wire all the way around the room and use a normal two switch light switch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You could do something simple (and cloud free) with the Nexa transmitter that they sell at Clas Olhson. The existing light switch would work as normal, and the second switch would connect to a transmitter that could control a relay or a plug in - this would cost about £30 for the transmitter and receiver (or 3 plug in recievers and a remote control) .

      It uses fairly simple (and hackable) 433 Mhz RF . The Transmitter unit doesn't need power at the switch which is useful, because many UK lightswitches only have live, not neutral, I've used Nexa kit and it's fairly easy to add a DIY Raspberry Pi based controller if you want to go down the whole clever smart home route.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Cheers, but i'm looking for something that looks like a standard while two-switch light switch. One to operate the remote, one to operate the big light.

      2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Actually, further investigation found this:

        http://www.vesternet.com/z-wave-tkb-dual-paddle-wall-switch-gen5

        Which may be exactly what I'm after. One local load button, one zwave button on the same switch.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          I doubt anybody is reading this now, but that solution requires a controller which will cost more than the convenience is worth. Probably more than hiring a spark to hardwire the switch too.

    2. batfink

      Yep - look at lightwaveRF. I'm doing exactly that at my place.

  24. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
  25. lukewarmdog
    Facepalm

    reminds me of Morrisey singing "there is a light that never goes out".

    In the IoT world this becomes "there is no light that hackers can't gain control of" or "there is no light because your app has become outdated and is no longer being maintained, visit Ikea to get a more up to date version."

    Obviously not as catchy, I'll work on it.

  26. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Trådfri means "wireless" in Swedish.

    It is an alternative direct translation that no-one has ever used before...

    "Trådlös" is the correct term.

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