What is the Internet of Things, and why should I give a %&^@?
The Internet of Things is not David Suzuki’s new television show.
(IoT) is a method of describing the progression of interconnectivity, automation and monitoring of electronic devices, using Wi-Fi. In a nutshell: everything that ‘should’ be connected to the Internet will eventually be connected. The most salient example showing success in the marketplace is Nest: What started out as a smart thermostat & smoke detector which could be controlled and monitored wirelessly is recreating / automating the home almost entirely. Apple is rumoured to be releasing HomeKit this spring (their version of a home connectivity framework). In all honesty, I’m just excited for when autonomous cat litter boxes become more available.
“Works with Nest” is a collaborative project between Nest and a few known brands such as:
- Mercedes (Informs Nest when you are coming home to turn on the thermostat)
- Whirlpool (to turn on laundry machines during energy non-peak hours)
- Dropcam (a webcam that can turn on when your fire detector/alarm system goes off)
- Jawbone (a fitness and monitoring bracelet)
- Philips Hue (a smart RGB LED light bulb that can imitate your presence when you are not home, or flash to indicate and emergency) to name just a few.
Others include smart deadbolt locks, which we assume are well underway to being developed further. For obvious reasons, IoT devices will require the use of the IPv6 IP addresses, since the IPv4 exhaustion. Predictions for the near future include automated transportation and manufacturing, total life support monitoring, and environmental and infrastructure monitoring.
In response to Wired.com’s article Internet of Broken Things, it seems the most major concern with IoT devices is the developers overlooked the potential security risks involved with their devices, though I doubt these security risks will become as much of an epidemic as critics say they will, (locks can still be picked, thermostats can have back up monitoring devices, regular smoke detectors still exist) any breach in the near future will have devastating effects on sales and the confidence of consumers.
Howard Rheingold wrote the only other relevant argument against IoT devices, “We will live in a world where many things won’t work and nobody will know how to fix them.”
Howard, do you want me to Google it for you?
In a way, Howard is correct: but not in the way he thinks. My only concern is the thermostat now requires the software update we never do for our computers and phones, and we will be too negligent to update them, because, ideally we shouldn’t have to. IoT in it’s very worst, will be the golden opportunity for companies to create the same upgrade/throwaway culture we have with our cell phones, with the system that nows runs our homes.
We already know from Making Plants Talk that we can have Arduino controllers talk over social media platforms, so for the purpose of D.I.Y., or if you just don’t want to deal with mainstream devices, here are some Arduino/open source versions.
Please do not attempt to make or manipulate a smoke detector for anything other than its intended use, and use any home security project at your own risk.