Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I think "improve" is a very subjective and lofty standard to hold these things to. I think "simplify" is correct, and most people would see simplification as an improvement.

There is definitely something magical about leaving your house and having your lights shut off and your door lock automatically, then coming home after a long day and having your door unlock and lights come back on.

It's not such a drastic improvement or change, but it feels like attention to detail. IMO, reducing the number of things I have to think about on a daily basis to live my life is an improvement.




>There is definitely something magical about leaving your house and having your lights shut off and your door lock automatically, then coming home after a long day and having your door unlock and lights come back on.

I can see how it would feel that way if one didn't know too much. Google home devices were caught with their microphones stuck open constantly uploading within weeks of release.

What makes you think you won't get a doorlock that gets stuck in an open/close loop and just oscillates, allowing a burglar to just stick their shoulder against the door and wait for the bolt to retract? Are you going to remember to check after every firmware update? Are you even going to know if a firmware update is issued?

Will it still be magical if you get declared a legacy customer[1] and your door is programmed to unlock and stay unlocked? Will you even follow IoT news close enough to be confident that this hasn't happened to you?

Myself, I'd prefer a door lock that locks only when locked, and unlocks only when the correct key is inserted into it. I've /certainly/ seen one too many crazy software errors to believe in a stove that has the ability to turn itself on and off.

[1] https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2453441/revolv-use...


> What makes you think you won't get a doorlock that gets stuck in an open/close loop and just oscillates, allowing a burglar to just stick their shoulder against the door and wait for the bolt to retract?

Door locks are security theater anyways. If someone really wants to rob you, it's not difficult to get into a house.

> Are you going to remember to check after every firmware update? Are you even going to know if a firmware update is issued?

No, for the same reason I don't check if my computer requires my specific password every time I log in. I'm not that paranoid.'

> Will it still be magical if you get declared a legacy customer and your door is programmed to unlock and stay unlocked?

That has never happened. Even in the example you cite, they caved and offered users a full refund.

> Myself, I'd prefer a door lock that locks only when locked, and unlocks only when the correct key is inserted into it. I've /certainly/ seen one too many crazy software errors to believe in a stove that has the ability to turn itself on and off.

Go for it. While you're at it, make sure you don't get a car that has a remote start or an unlocking keyfob, or a safe that unlocks with a code. Wouldn't want that scary technology near your locks.


>Door locks are security theater anyways. If someone really wants to rob you, it's not difficult to get into a house.

That doesn't compute. If that's the case, then why pay for a smart doorlock? Just stop locking your door.

>That has never happened. Even in the example you cite, they caved and offered users a full refund.

They caved in and offered a full refund /for the hub/, which is the minority cost. No refunds on the compatible bulbs, thermostats, etc that it was made to work with.

>While you're at it, make sure you don't get a car that has a remote start or an unlocking keyfob, or a safe that unlocks with a code.

You're trying to be sarcastic and paint me as a luddite, but you don't know the domain you're opining about. You really /don't/ want a car with a remote start mate, they're already well broken and have been for years: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/style/keeping-your-car-sa...


> That doesn't compute. If that's the case, then why pay for a smart doorlock? Just stop locking your door.

Your insurance company might feel otherwise. Security theatre serves a purpose, but acting like a deadbolt is some amazing security measure is ridiculous.

> They caved in and offered a full refund /for the hub/, which is the minority cost. No refunds on the compatible bulbs, thermostats, etc that it was made to work with.

Which is why standards are good. Buy ZigBee bulbs and compatible items. Lack of standardization is common in all new industries. Taking one token example and using it to paint the entire concept as bad is also ridiculous.

> You're trying to be sarcastic and paint me as a luddite, but you don't know the domain you're opining about. You really /don't/ want a car with a remote start mate, they're already well broken and have been for years.

I'm well familiar with the issues with remote start. I'm also familiar with the ability that spark plug has to thwart a traditional key.

Once again, if you want to steal a car it's not hard. This is what I'm talking about. For some reason people insist on holding digital locks to this ridiculous standard, when we all know that 99% of consumer locks are intended to "keep honest people honest" and not to actually thwart a real criminal.

Digital/IoT locks meet and exceed that standard IMO. You're letting perfect be the enemy of good, and it does come off as luddite FUD. "I'm scared of this change and what it could do, so better to just stick with the devil I know."


Denial of service attack potential is nice as well: pay $x or we won't unlock your door. As long $x is somewhat lower than what it would cost to replace the lock or fix the damage to the door you might have a buyer.


Back in the kitchen he fished in his various pockets for a dime, and, with it, started up the coffeepot. Sniffing the-to him-very unusual smell, he again consulted his watch, saw that fifteen minutes had passed; he therefore vigorously strode to the apt door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt.

The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”

He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I'll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don't have to pay you.”

“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”

In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.

“You discover I'm right,” the door said. It sounded smug.

From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt's money-gulping door.

“I'll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.

— from Ubik, Philip K Dick, 1969

(Dick failed to foresee the convenient ability to have everything automatically debited from your Alexoori account. That, and the annual applobe variation so you can't unscrew your door with a knife.)


> It's not such a drastic improvement or change, but it feels like attention to detail

I call this “life UX,” and you’re exactly right about the way these small, subtle changes add up to surprisingly significant improvements.


Alternatively, when I contemplate a world where I need to apply firmware upgrades to my light switches, worry about having to set firewall rules for my front door lock, and ponder what will happen if my letterbox vendor goes out of business and turns of their server - the sheer unadulterated, mechanical simplicity of taking a piece of shaped metal out of my pocket, flicking a light switch and then closing my front door by inserting said pice of metal into a small hole is just so very, very attractive. The lack of cognitive load is just magical


I'd say that's a very accurate description of an inevitable future, assuming we don't extinct ourselves or wipe our our technology progress by nearly extincting ourselves.

One way or the other, for example, automated cars are coming. We can say "but trolleycar problem!" Sure, we need to worry about that! But, no matter how hard we gripe about all the problems and scary things about the new tech, it is coming. It will happen, because there is profit to be had there and it is more efficient than having humans drive and a million other reasons that more than overcome the obstacles.

So, an IoT lightswitch may not be as inevitable as self-driving cars, but IoT valve meters sure as heck are, or IoT lightswitches for an oil rig, or IoT smoke detectors... in fact, some of these might become legally required, once they get robust enough! (similar arguments have been made that it may become illegal to drive a non-autonomous car without lots of training/licensing)

So, people like you and me, that prefer zippos and straight razors and automatic watches over quartz watches and fountain pens and manual-transmission cars, we'll still be able to have our mechanical switches, we just won't live in a world where everyone wants those things.


Good news, those options will continue to exist.

If you find manually managing those things easier than the occasional firmware update and making sure you buy things from companies that are reasonably reputable and have decent security practice, then by all means stick with regular options.


What if there were a world where your light switches are smart and don’t need firmware updates? The state of mass-market IoT right now is a bit of a shitshow, I’ll grant you, but that doesn’t mean it will always be the case.

People once groused about the complexity of fuel injection, too.


Internet-connected devices never needing firmware updates strikes me as only possible in a world where computer security is a solved problem.


I was thinking about a HomeKit-style solution where only the bridge connects to the internet and everything else is local comms only.


Well, that doesn't seem like a good way to collect ad dollars and social media presence!


Yes, you don't have to think about your energy bill or your home security as much. So you stop looking at your bills and don't lock your house. Only to find out later that both services stopped working, so you got charged money you didn't know you were being charged, and your house was open to being looted.

People have an annoyance. They think, "I know, I'll add more technology to my life." Now they have two annoyances.


> Only to find out later that both services stopped working, so you got charged money you didn't know you were being charged, and your house was open to being looted.

Wait, in this scenario am I blind & deaf or something? Because I can see my lights turn off when I leave and turn on when I arrive. I can hear and see the lock close when I leave and hear and see it open when I return.

I'm definitely not saying IoT is perfect, but this argument is idiotic. I can also leave my lights on and forget to lock my house with a manual setup, both things I have done before as I'm sure we all have.

Honestly, for a community of users that is entirely focused on tech startups, this is a ludicrous amount of FUD.


Yes, and I've left my keys in the outside of the front door all night, with the keys for both cars attached, probably. Fortunately it's a good neighbourhood...

I'd like houses to have something like central locking, like cars have had for ages. I just don't want it to depend on the Internet, except if I deliberately choose to connect it somehow.

I'd also like to be able to read my gas meter without having to change my clothes afterwards having fought my way through dense vegetation and spiders' webs and knelt down in the mud. But I don't want a "smart" meter connected to the Internet. I just want a local radio link to my own hardware.

Any chance I could have these things without having to build them myself?


Yes, this has been around for years. It's just basic "smart home" stuff. Zwave/Zigbee devices are plentiful. If you don't want to do it yourself then you pay a company to come in and make your home "smart", they'll sell you everything from the controller to the remote to control everything.

80% of the comments in this entire thread are about the woes of connecting everything to the internet which is a fair concern but it's not like non internet connected equivalents haven't been available for decades.


Do you seriously imagine that a complex piece of software, combined with a complex piece of hardware, both of which requiring power to work, and probably a network, would be more reliable than physical, offline, dumb keys and switches?

Of course you don't. You'd have to be an idiot to believe that. So my main point, that technology makes shit more complicated with more failure potential, stands.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: