My relatively poor grandparents and my slightly less poor parents had a hard working life, but none of them had to sleep in a dark cold room because the switch to turn the lights on or the heating stopped working. Ever. This problem has been solved by other people many many years ago.
Last month I watched a documentary where a billionaire was showing of his multi million mansion and when he wanted to show the camera team his 100k home cinema room they couldn't see anything because his smart lighting system was stuck in an update loop and nobody had a clue how to fix it. In the interview he said it's not a big deal because he doesn't like to have the lights on when watching a movie anyway. L.O.L.
If I had a 100k cinema room then it would be certainly be a big deal to me if I can't even see where the heck I'm walking.
In my entire life I never thought "damn, how nice would it be if I could turn on the lights in my bedroom from downstairs on my phone". It's just not a problem which I think people have, but somehow the consumer industry has convinced so many fools to buy cheaply fabricated, badly secured, even worse programmed and often not long supported smart home devices which add absolutely no benefit to anyone's everyday life and cause lots of problems.
By the time I find my phone lying around in my lounge, unlock it through Face ID or finger touch, open up the home app, find the home device which I want to control, then make whatever change I wanted to do I am much faster to just get my arse up from the couch, walk over and turn it on/off with a normal hand movement. On the way I can also grab a beer from the fridge and then continue watching the telly and laugh about some fools who spent 100k on a home cinema without lights.
I heard this same song and dance 5 years ago. The problems with the "IoT" market are foundational. Most IoT devices are not designed to be used for extended periods without internet access and a continuous stream of updates. The former means that, in general, they are only as reliable as your internet connection (including that crappy modem/router the ISP gave you). The latter means that unlike traditional home hardware, once you install "smart" devices you're at the mercy of the business plans of the vendor. So even if you get something set up that works acceptably, it will last 5 years tops (see Nest) before the vendor's priorities change.
Finally to address the "extra security" comment. Security from what? The developed world is objectively safer than ever, why would I invest in "solutions" to problems invented out of whole cloth? The paranoia of people installing cameras all over their own home (often cameras whose footage they have no real control over) astounds me. We're more mistrustful of our own neighbours than the companies that are actually exploiting our privacy and manipulating us psychologically for profit.
But you could design one with a manual fallback option. Doesn't seem foundational to me. Nothing about an IoT design prevents one from doing that.
>The latter means that unlike traditional home hardware, once you install "smart" devices you're at the mercy of the business plans of the vendor. So even if you get something set up that works acceptably, it will last 5 years tops (see Nest) before the vendor's priorities change.
Yes, that is the downside of dealing with any service oriented business, in any domain. But again, you can have a manual fallback option (as I think most devices do FWICT)
>Finally to address the "extra security" comment. Security from what?
I suppose it depends on what you consider security. For an intruder alert system, you'd need something that can transmit a notification to someone. An IoT device seems like a good option, but I guess you could also use a device that can send a text over a cellular network.
I personally have no use for anything IoT, but I think its premature to go completely in the other direction and say that IoT is completely useless. What we're seeing with so called "disruptive" technologies is that things get worse (or sometimes a lot worse), before they get better.
Certainly I could (or at least someone with the engineering skills could), but the actual IoT companies don't. My impression of IoT devices (do not want) is based on what actually exists, not on what could theoretically exist.
That is incorrect. There are several IoT products with manual fallback options on the market. I don't even know why you're disagreeing to be honest. You don't like IoT devices, I got that part.
Also, "manual fallback" is a cop-out. When I want manual operations, I don't go looking for home automation. The "smart" features should be available without Internet. There's nothing technically difficult about this, but it isn't being done because of abusive business practices.
That is a good question. I don't know. But I'd say it became a selling point after the internet became ubiquitous and reliable enough in the eyes of consumers. Otherwise people would be complaining about 'needs internet access to watch a movie/make a video call/play a game/push source code/order food/call a taxi/etc/etc/etc".
I ended up buying a camera for peace of mind and for checking in on my place to see who's entering my residence area. Sometimes it's genuinely helpful.
Almost nowhere is "safe" from thieves. If you live in a "nice area" like any of the more expensive neighborhoods/cities in the bay area then you're very prone to burglary because go figure you likely have expensive stuff that's good for stealing. Unless you have really good defense mechanisms to detour/stop thieves (or just nothing worth stealing) then you're going to get stuff stolen.
Property crime isn't the same as violent crime.
If you're only interested in recording what happened (as evidence) an IP camera can run on PoE to a laptop or mini-pc on a UPS, and record for as long as you want, even in the case of a power outage if you include a UPS (an old laptop works well in this case - you can potentially just run the PoE switch/injector on the UPS and let the laptop run on its battery).
No internet connection required. No "service" to stop working. No "API" to become deprecated.
It's been useful for other things like checking in on. Where/when packages are delivered, when the landlord showed up, when a neighbor came over to tell us something but we didn't hear them knock on the door, finding out my smoke alarm was going off for no apparent reason, etc.
I'm not saying your solution is bad, my house has the same thing (with 4 cameras around the house), but most people don't want to spend time managing yet more stuff, and debugging their camera system if something goes wrong.
The best piece of mind isn't a webcam and paranoia of people you don't recognize in your neighborhood, its a list of your valuables and appropriate renters/homeowners insurance to replace whatever might have been stolen.
My neighborhood has had thefts too. I assume my two dogs barking have been enough to keep them at bay. It wouldn’t surprise me if statistically this holds true elsewhere. Low hanging fruit and all.
Have you considered a motion sensor tied to a speaker that plays dogs barking/rustling?
We already have a couple fake cameras on the property as deterrents that were installed by the landlord. I just happened to install a real one because I wanted a little evidence collection since I've been a victim of theft more than once in the bay area.
Thief thought bubble “this might hurt / don’t forget tasty treats”
Option 2: A half dozen visible cameras
Thief thought bubble “Good stuff inside / don’t forget hat and glasses”
You live in fantasy world if you think nothing bad will ever happen to you just because you have high regard for your neighbors.
In some ways it's like pre-iPhone mobile apps. They absolutely did exist, but were mostly too much hassle until they could be seamlessly downloaded from the App Store, sandboxed, and held to quality standards. We're still in the Symbian era of home automation.
(My wife worked at a home automation / security company about a decade ago. It had basically all the same problems back then too, but for a couple of years I had an internet-connected doorbell)
Once I install a Z-wave light switch and add it to my hub (a very simple process) there is virtually no maintenance. I rarely use the phone app to control things but I reliably get push notifications for things I want to know about (forgot to lock the front door, garage door being opened unexpected, door unlocked by specific people, etc.).
Most of my interaction happens via Alex and it basically just works.
It seems most people in this thread talking about the issues with Smart Home stuff have never actually used any Smart Home stuff.
(Having said that, I failed to watch a DVD at the weekend; the Xbox wouldn't play it as it was region locked, then I realised that I'd not hooked up the DVD player in the six months since buying the television, and it flaked out trying to play on my laptop.)
None of this makes me think that a "home automation" system will be any more convenient or reliable. I've only just made my peace with the "smart TV". I wanted a dumb TV, but will admit that the smartness has mostly delivered. It even seems to have HDMI-CEC that works with the satellite box from a different manufacturer. It still occasionally nags about updates or informs me that something it shipped with no longer works or requires a new EULA.
I have dealt with the complexity of "AV recievers", whatever they are exactly, by not knowing why I might need one and not having one.
The one feature I may end up building is the ability to listen to the TV in the kitchen, which I may do by running thirty feet of wire.
Recently my sister's response was, "Actually, you use the X-box controller." What a future we live in.
When there is better regulation and the software engineers are being jailed for violations of privacy, I will trust the system and buy it. Until then, I simply don't trust it. And won't buy it.
I don't hate the lights. It's great innovation. I am amused at the fact that you can turn off your ac from work in case you forgot. But privacy. Privacy is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. And I'd like it to be addressed before I let the companies run my data on aws.
Just like all those bankers who were jailed after the 2008 financial crisis that wrecked the lives of millions? Gimme a break.
Not having IoT devices is an option. Not having a credit report isn't. (I don't just mean it in the sense that it's not practical; I mean it in the sense that, as far as I know, you can't stop this data from being compiled.)
Honestly I change my mind much faster than 5 years. I have no issue to admit that I changed my mind over something. Personally I even like to be taught better by something or someone as I feel I've learned something then.
All in all my comment is very tongue in cheek, but I really mean everything I said, because that is just how I personally feel today. I don't see much value in smart home devices today. Not a big fan of the products which are on the market, not a big fan from my own experience using them when I did and not a big fan of all the big issues that people constantly report when relying on them.
I'm not Einstein who invented some physics law which will stand forever. I have a personal opinion which is relevant today. If things change tomorrow then there will be a new HN discussion and perhaps I'll have a new opinion which will be relevant tomorrow. I don't see anything wrong in voicing my thoughts on this topic today as it stands today.
It won't be worked out in 5 years, because the issues with IoT aren't technological, but business. Go to a random Hackerspace and half of the people you find there could build better IoT devices (and many are). IoT's main issue is garbage products designed as vehicles to lock you into some vendor's "ecosystem". It won't get better until it all gets commoditized.
10 years won't change that.
And a lock, that depends in some way on internet access? You can FUCK RIGHT OFF.
Weirdly some wall outlets have a little clear plastic section that looks like it should have a light behind it... but nothing. Asked a local 'builder' (I won't say electrician, because that doesn't exist here) and he had no idea what it's for either.
I like convenience as much as anyone, but you may want to consider that it's paid for by continuous monitoring by someone whose business model is to manipulate your future behavior.
(I had an Ecobee that just decided to try and freeze my family for funsies on a winter day when I was at work. Threw it out and replaced it with a dumb thermostat.)
What I do want to do is put a ESP board with an IR receiver and a servo on a lightswitch in my basement so that I can turn on and off the lights without moving from the couch.
Smart everything else? Why? What happens when your internet goes down? What happens when criminals buy a $100 wifi jammer and ruin you?
Didn't anyone watch the movie Smart Home?
And then what are the other options? It’s not that hard to build/buy cell jammers either.
Analog locks opened with a physical key.
I find Z-wave to provide a much better experience than Wifi smart home products.
They had x-10 in the 90s, maybe earlier. Never saw the need, but my place was small. Could see the use if I had a mansion. But that is selling to the 1%, not a huge market.
That said, I sort of liked the nest demo where it shows you traffic and weather in the morning before work. Might be useful if I still was still in the rat-race, but it's on my phone already, so meh.
I'd rather fiddle with updates and setup once in a while (I have never had to reconfigure the devices in 2 years), than look for that goddamn remote between couch cushions, press the power button and possibly switch audio and video inputs, especially if I'm on the second floor and someone forgot the TV on on the first floor. I would hate to make that trip downstairs, annoyed and grumpy.
My grandma always said "What you don't have in your head you must have in your legs".
My calculation is simple: Where do I expect to waste more time in my life? Periodically configuring/updating smart home devices, getting to the bottom of issues if something doesn't work as expected, or once in a while walk the stairs an extra time because I left the TV on.
So far I don't forget to switch off my TV often enough to justify the human effort of smart home devices. Maybe one day when I become older and more forgetful and not turning of TVs and lamps becomes a habit then I might re-evaluate my decision.
I have a magnificent non-smart home theatre on my property, set up by one of the other co-owners. He's pretty much the only person that knows how to use it; the last time I tried, I had to call him. This stuff is a disaster. Over in my house it's "Hey Google, play some music".
I replaced my 60s-era manual mercury switch thermostat with a Nest. It's way better! More accurate, accepts voice commands, tells me the temperature, can be turned on before I get home, and can be turned off remotely when I left for vacation and forgot (yes, I've done this). Call me a very satisfied customer.
I'll take the smart home, thank you. If that makes me dumb, fine. I don't want to have to be a genius just to watch a movie.
I'd like to see a web site or an app that lets you input what you've got and how it is connected, and then answers questions about that setup for you.
For example, I'd be able to tell it that I have:
Denon AVR-1913 receiver
Comcast X1 cable box
Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray player
Samsung 55U7000 TV
I'd also be able to tell it that I have an iMac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch 4, Surface Pro 4, and a Windows 10 desktop. I'd be able to tell it that I have WiFi that the all of those are on as is the Nintendo Switch, and an Ethernet that the iMac, Windows desktop, receiver, cable box, Blu-Ray player, and TV are on.
Finally, I'd be able to tell it that I have an iTunes library on the iMac, an iTunes account, a Netflix account, Amazon Prime, and Spotify.
The site would then answer questions based on that. Typical questions might be:
"I bought movie X from iTunes. How the heck do I watch it on my TV?"
"I don't own a copy of X. What are my rental/buying options using the services I currently have?"
"I have a photo gallery on the iMac. How can I view the photos on my TV? When doing so, how can I control the viewing while not at the iMac?"
"I want to listen to music while sitting on the couch. The music comes from a playlist on my iMac, and I want to be able to play/pause, and to skip tracks. How can I do this?"
Ideally the site should also be able to suggest improvements. For example, for the setup described above it might suggest that I connect the Comcast X1 directly to the TV, because they both support 4K. The receiver does not, and so my current setup can't do better that 1080p.
Not the world's best UI for configuring, but when done, it works, and you define "Activities", like you described.
And at the start it does exactly that: "What devices do you have?" "When you watch TV do you control volume through TV/STB/AV receiver?" "What inputs on what devices are used?"
I have a very basic SmartThings setup to play with, and, same deal, days of my life for something that basically doesn't ever work. Every time I open the app I'm supposed to enable 2fa or sign up for a Samsung account instead, the prox tags never stay paired (and the batteries die almost immediately), the batteries on the sensors die constantly, and the actions only mostly work. It thankfully doesn't do anything that important to me, it's more of a silly side project I messed with a few times, but I've gone no further because it doesn't solve any actual problems, but it sure creates a bunch.
I definitely am not interested in getting into the business of figuring out whether I want to have light switches or smart bulbs that can change color, and how to ensure the SWITCH is on so that the BULBS always have power and can be activated via an app, or whether I need to now glue on a wall control, all so that I can.. have the same functionality it used to have.
> the logical conclusion to that are the couch potatoes shown in the movie Wall-E
Well, you are already horizontal. In fact it's worse, because unless every single light source is hooked up, you now spend twice the mental effort.
1. Turn off everything
2. Go to bed.
1. Turn off everything that is dumb. Only dumb thing.
2. Ensure smart things are ON (physically have power) otherwise you won't be able to voice control them.
3. Go to bed.
4. HEY GOOGLE! GOOD NIGHT! to turn off everything and hope for the best.
Only people who don't use smart home devices think the experience is even remotely like this. Worse case scenario for any smart home device malfunction is flipping a switch on and off. You're just imagining problems that don't exist.
Software development in a nutshell. It's how I have spent most of my life.
This. Every time I hear a friend or someone on a podcast talking about their smart home they talk about how now they just need to find a new smart hub/lightswitch/integration service and everything will come together and nirvana will be achieved. Life's too short to spend that kind of time and energy on turning lights on and off.
Even though he earned a degree in computer science, he wasn't very interested in the hacker/tinker/development side of things.
That would be cool, I'd like that too. Problem is, this only exists in a) marketing material, b) sci-fi movies, and c) if you do everything yourself. In the IoT industry, competition itself is ruining most of the "smart" devices' utility. They won't be useful until apps, hubs and devices are completely independent and commoditized, and you could argue they might not be useful to regulars even then (cue the long discussion on why stable society is incompatible with interesting life).
I replaced all of my dumb light switches with zwave light switches, but the nice thing is that they still act as light switches. I bought dumb IP cameras that can stream RTSP instead of going to someone's "cloud". I feed all of this into a homeassistant server that, when it goes down, I shrug because this is a fun hobby of mine, not anything I expect to actually work.
When people ask "wow how can I make my TV do that trick" or "that is cool, what do I need to get started with home automation", I cringe a little because of how embarrassingly techy the industry still is. Even Control4, which is probably the premiere home automation ecosystem, requires a ton of upkeep to keep it running (though at least you can throw money down a hole to have someone fix it).
Also with regards to your comment about turning on the lights to your phone, there's something magical about walking into the living room and saying "Hey Siri, good morning" and having your TV kick on, automatically start streaming the morning news, kitchen and living room lights turn on, and blinds open. There's nothing that really saves a ton of time in it, but it's just nice.
Magical in the sense that hell is magical?
In the dead of winter, it's still pitch black out when I take my dogs out first thing in the AM. The temperature can fluctuate quite a lot where I live, so I usually have two different winter coats. My winter "good morning" routine turns on my main floor lights and announces the outside temperature so I know whether or not to wear my heaviest coat.
While it sounds like a small benefit, I find it very useful considering how groggy I am at that time.
The city I live in has very erratic weather, and my apartment stays pretty temperate regardless of the outside weather. This makes it fairly easy to absent-mindedly dress inappropriately and end up sweating or shivering on the walk to work. I generally get in the habit of checking the weather, but after a week of warm weather it's easy to forget, and the weather here is such that it might suddenly drop 15 degrees from day to day. Having this information in bright visual form makes it easy to notice when the weather is suddenly unexpectedly hotter or colder: It took me about ten minutes to set up, and is a small improvement to my life that's tailored to exactly how I live it.
This, to me, is the advantage of the current era of smart home technology: incremental changes that can make little improvements to your day to day workflow. This thread is infested with an unfortunate combination of ignorance and lack of imagination (par for the course with HN...), where any evidence that smart devices don't fit into one commenter's workflow is evidence that it's useless for everyone (as the topvoted comment says, "smart people don't buy smart devices").
It wasn't until I got an Amazon Echo before I got any real value from my Wemos other than what I mentioned above. Since then, I've gotten into Zwave and invested more into smart home products. I admit that it's not life changing, but stuff like being able to check lock status, etc. has, as you say, made life incrementally better.
You can make a nice experience for yourself without throwing privacy and security out of the window. It does take some network design and careful selection of devices (e.g. shunning Alexa and Google Assistant), but with the right setup you can do some very cool things while staying safe and not giving up your right to privacy.
But hey, sure, let's go through this:
- I don't care about some dude you saw on TV. A single anecdote means nothing. Even less when it's someone not representative of the population.
- A strawman convenience is another terrible argument. Sometimes it matters that you don't have to leave the room to fiddle with a device. Sometimes you're talking to someone and ask them "are you cold?" and would like to just make it warmer without leaving them.
- Being able to monitor your house's status remotely is helpful.
- Switches and light bulbs are low investment, low risk purchases. If they don't work, you have a simple fallback and it didn't cost much. The industry's developing and it'll take time, but it's generally fine because most of this stuff is such low risk.
Outfitting my house with smart bulbs would cost about £400. I've better uses for that amount of money.
When a given product/technology just fundamentally doesn’t work, or even worse is a security nightmare, you don’t get to write it off as a risk that didn’t cost much. Especially since that last part isn’t true in most cases.
Personally, I do find things like HVAC automation nice. If I forget to turn the thermostat down when I leave for a trip, I can do so remotely and that is real savings. Everyone has their use cases though.
I spent a bunch of money replacing every light bulb in my house with an LED so that I'd never have to deal with burnt-out light bulbs again. That was a use of improved technology that simplified my life.
If you hook your household devices up to the internet and make them dependent on external services they will always be prone to breaking. If I get some fancy internet-connected light bulb and have to spend even so much as ten minutes, ever, in its lifetime, figuring out why it stopped working, then it has already become a worse value proposition than the passive, non-internet thing it hoped to replace.
"I like an escalator, man, because an escalator can never break. It can only become stairs." --Mitch Hedberg
A thermostat is my personal exception though. Being able to program it on my phone is a huge UI improvement over prior thermostats. Also, being able to change it without getting out of bed in the middle of the night is a bonus.
Well, you don't. WIFI is definitely one way to go, but Z-wave is a better way, imo.
Here's a use case for me -- I think last year DHH did a podcast where he talked about air quality and the effect of CO2 on cognitive function. After listening to it, I got a CO2 detector and wired it to a Pi. I had it set up to fire a webhook to IFTTT to turn on my HVAC fan via a NEST connector when a certain CO2 threshold was hit in my bedroom (it would get quite high overnight).
I have since found out that my ensuite bathroom fan is more effective than the furnace fan in lowering the CO2 in my bedroom, so having a smart wall switch on my ensuite fan allows me to automatically turn it on or off based on the air conditions.
Yikes. I mean sure, your points on why you don't see their value are valid. But calling people not smart because they enjoy being able to automate their homes is a leap and a half.
Setting up geofence triggers, time/event-based triggers, etc. is the real power of smart devices. I have automations set up so if I arrive home when it's dark, lights in my house turn on automatically so I don't have to fumble for light switches. I have motion sensors so if I walk into rooms, the lights turn on automatically and then turn off after I leave. I can set up schedules to turn lights on and off while I'm not at home so my house looks occupied.
Also, with Apple Homekit, there is a control center widget so you just swipe up, tap home and your "favorite" devices are very quickly accessible from anywhere in the world.
We are all supposed to be keeping K.I.S.S. in mind because we're engineers.
Smart home crap is the complete opposite of K.I.S.S.
Smart home setups are the guy on your group who wants to write a java program dependent on spring to solve a problem that a shell one liner can solve. Smart Homes are prepping the space shuttle to go down the block to the drug store.
One of the kids probably took it outside with them and left it laying around the farm somewhere. To be honest, it's probably done us more good than we'd care to admit. The TV isn't quite so convenient, with the smart TV, without the remote it's all but impossible to drive.
The problem is all the solutions so far kinda suck, and most are still expensive. If they weren't, absent regulation killing the spyvertising industry (oh please oh please oh please), guaranteed to be spyware wholly dependent on sending everything you or they do to "the cloud", I'd say Asimo-style general purpose home robots can't get here soon enough.
Light switches, coffee makers, thermostats? Anyone who cared could already get 95% of the way to as-good-as-IoT with motion sensors and timers on existing, cheaper, out of the box solutions, without all the spying and "I'm sorry I can't reach my server so even though we're on the same local network and I'm more powerful than a late 90s desktop PC I still can't talk to your smartphone because I am a piece of absolute garbage."
My wife and I use smart sockets and switches to turn on and off lights by voice command rather than walking around to every lamp and hunting around for the switches as we used to do. Was it a massive time savings? No. Did it change our lives substantially? No. Was it a small quality of life improvement? Yes. And yeah, there are issues--Alexa gets confused when you try to change the label associated with a device. But the issue was easily fixed and we were no worse off than we were before the purchase.
For example, automatically turning lights on and off on a schedule, changing light color to red at night, being able to casually set reminders without bothering with a phone, controlling your TV without needing your phone (e.g. for netflix), being able to change temperature on a schedule, all kinds of things.
Just because they occasionally have bugs for some people doesn't mean they are entirely useless. Many people (myself included) have few to no problems with their smart home devices.
I'm not a big fan of smart devices, but I've had several issues that were solved very conveniently by smart devises.
The temperature in my second floor bedroom and my first floor living room is usually totally different. The thermostat is in the living room. So all too often we'd be laying in bed and the temperature is wrong. So now you have to walk down stairs, adjust it and hope you got it right. We never bothered doing anything like turning on the vegetation function for 30 minutes. Nest thermostat was a total game changer. Sometimes it does annoying stuff and isn't nearly as smart as I'd like it to be, but it's so much better than the old thermostat.
Similarly I have ceiling fans with light bulbs. You can turn the whole thing on and off with wall switches, but only control lights and fan with a strong that hangs from the fan. Unfortunately the builder or previous owner put these in a room with cathedral ceilings. So I'd need a ladder to control these properly. I put smart lightbulbs in and now at least those can be controlled independently.
Yes, they're (still) smart devices, but this can work without the smart functionality. The sensors detect which room humans are in, and adjusts so that the thermostat controls the heat to get the OCCUPIED room to the desired temperature. So, no 'device with an app' required (eg, this could be replicated without internet functionality).
Most fans these days ship with wireless remotes. Even my wall switch is a wireless remote. So the light and fan can be controlled separately -- no IoT required here as well.
If you've already sold your soul and have a home device with speech control, it's actually pretty easy to go and get a smart outlet device to control some lights. A single phrase without any screen or authentication and you're controlling your lights. If it breaks or gets outdated, you can always take it out in 10 seconds. Basically, if you do go for a smart home, keep it dumb and overridable.
Insulting everyone you presumably intend to convince with your argument is not a smart move.
I'm at the point where living without smart lights is very inconvenient. I was at my parents the other day carrying a heavy can of garbage through their completely black basement. Instead of just being able to tell my voice assistant to turn on the basement lights, I had to fumble around to find the right switch that actually lights the room.
As far as being on topic with Nest... I've never "gone cold". The device works fine without their service and I would say works better than most other thermostats when it comes to actually performing the task of a thermostat.
That's a highly specific scenario that I personally would solve with a motion sensor light if I felt it was likely to happen often.
In the same way that dishwashers and washers/dryers have endured while other 70s smarter-home tech didn't , I would guess that some modern automations that actually provide value (e.g. robot vacuums) will continue on even as the hype dies down.
 For example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeywell_316#Kitchen_Computer
As a comparison, I didn't really consider typing in my phone pin every time I wanted to unlock my phone a disaster. But now that I've got Face ID and it works reasonably well (yes I know not everyone feels that way) it'd be annoying to go back.
You can critique the current implementations but when someone comes up with a good ecosystem to integrate with these products will gain steam.
Instead of having to rewire switches physically everytime I move something, I can program different routines depending on my needs, and nothing is tied down in my shop, I can always reconfigure the layout to make it more efficient if need be.
It’s been a life saver and it’s saved my energy bill also.
I’m in there 10 hours a day sometimes, and I love the home automation stuff, I just use it not in the home.
1) "Alexa, turn on kitchen". Turns on the various light switches that are collectively the kitchen.
2) all things turn off at 11PM during the weekdays. Make sure that the various lights that were on get turned off.
3) When turning on the basement light switch it automatically turns on the lights in the utility room where the laundry is.
4) When turning on the basement playroom light switch, in turns on "all the lights in that room", because that's the common use case.
5) outside lights come on and turn off automatically
6) Christmas tree lights outside come on and off on a regular basis.
7) Inside christmas lights come on and off
8) Front door opens automatically and locks automatically based on kids schedule.
9) Custom key codes for the front door for contractors
10) "Alexa, announce dinner". Announces dinner everywhere in the house. really useful.
11) Nest goes to eco mode when no-one is in the house.
12) Lights turn on automatically in the kitchen when you get home.
etc etc etc. It all works and doesn't require much work. The mobile based alerts are the weakest link in the system as they don't always work.
Underfloor heating is not unnecessary, in fact it is about 10% more efficient in operating cost as it can operate at lower inlet temperatures (30-35 °C, compared to 60+ °C for conventional radiators). In addition conventional radiators are often placed on the outside-facing wall below a window, which means that much of the generated heat gets lost.
As for the installation costs, for new construction conventional radiators and underfloor heating are approximately at the same price level.
I’m may not be impressed with their blasé attitude to money, but I bet I looked more wasteful than that to a Nairobi friend of my partner when I visited on a plane ticket that cost half their annual rent, £350.
There's significantly less money in it, though, and more hassle. It's not going to become popular enough until people get burned enough with vendors going out of business, or just stopping support, and making their convenient $199 gadgets obsolete.
In a sense, a large company like Nest pulling his off is a good thing: it sends the signal.
I can see a half dozen solidly practical uses for a smart home setup, mostly scheduling tasks to be done while I'm sleeping or not at home. Beyond that, I'd have a lot of fun just building silly hobby projects with cheap sensors, wifi-controlled lighting, etc. But I'm not going to touch any of it until I can get a system that's happy to run locally, and only calls out to the rest of the world when it actually needs to. At this point, I'm even going to hold out for adaptable integrations; if some service I'm talking to shuts down, I should be able to substitute another one honoring the same API. Anything less looks like a privacy, security, and ownership nightmare.
"the Internet of bricks" succintly conveys your first suggestion. "Internet of taps" for the second?
The most classical example of such “things” are softphones. They need their own vxlan and switch QOS policies and so forth, to function the way people expect phones to work (rather than flaking out when someone is torrenting.) Softphone deployments exist in plenty of enterprises, but have you ever heard of a SOHO deployment of softphones (where the phones are PBX extensions and can call each-other over the LAN; not where the phones are distinct phone-company DIDs sending IP packets through the gateway, out over the internet, and to the the phone company’s PBX terminus, just to talk to one-another)?
Until we get SOHO router-gateways smart enough to make such a SOHO softphone deployment “installation-free”, we’ll probably never see LANoT.
Running a RAID array was once as enterprisey as it gets. Now you can buy a RAID-ready box (something like Synology) and have a reasonable default configuration, or configure to your taste if you have a general knowledge of what you're doing.
I suppose that LANoT is going to develop eventually into something easy enough to deploy, too.
Re softphones: since US cable providers effectively sell softphones as a part of the cable package, they have every incentive to prevent home routers from allowing to easily set it up for free. OTOH the QoS settings are there in the routers firmwares for that same reason, and desktop / mobile softphones (aka "internet messengers") can use that if they care enough.
The tradeoff is that the quality is kind of bad and the ongoing fees comparatively high relative to IoT.
There's even the old DECT phones, if anyone's still using those.
(+ except where the internet companies have tried to break this by routing you through Hangouts or some other thing that isn't the phone system)
LIFX looks nice though. The UDP Lan protocol is really neat, and the documentation is better than I remember of Philips Hue.
While great advances come from availability of technology at a reduced up-front price, at what cost to the basic principles and advantages of ownership, privacy, cost depreciation, long term use of assets, etc. has our new world come?
This is a good reminder that “all magic, comes with a price”!
And really, that was the best case. Microsoft supported their legacy setup long after they stopped selling it, then finally offered refunds and support for importing playlists to Spotify. Newer, post-transformation services have dropped all pretense of guarantees or ownership; the Kindle Store revokes access to titles or whole collections so casually that the words "your library" are essentially a bad joke.
Even news has gone the same way. I had a very bad moment the first time I went to link someone to an article and found that the body had been completely rewritten with no editor's note (and not for correctness). News companies aren't profiting on the transition like music sellers did, but basic concepts like newspaper archives and the "paper of record" are thrown into doubt by the loss of ownership and content stability.
The story about farmers hacking back ownership of their tractors is surprising only because it's a bit ahead of the curve on hardware. We're still in the early days of this hardware-as-a-service transition, and it's going produce much uglier surprises than the ones we got with software.
The protagonist starts out by jail-breaking her toaster, which was designed on only toast authorized bread. However, the company that produced it went out of business (taken over by a hedge fund), and the authentication servers were shut down, so now the toaster couldn't toast anything.
Though I'd characterize "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" as superbly creepy.
Wish it was that simple.
With IoT, companies practicing dishonest and abusive business practices, like tying appliances to their SaaS and turning them from products into services, can get VC investment and simply outmarket the honest companies. Meanwhile, society develops antibodies slowly, so regular people are mostly unable to tell they're being taken advantage of (though cases like this help build this awareness). Consumers don't "vote with their wallets" for perfect solutions, they choose from what's on the market - and the market is saturated with bad actors right now.
As for games, it ain't easy either. Games are not commodities. The choice isn't between buying single player games requiring Internet connection and single player games not requiring it. The choice is between buying such Internet-tied games and not buying the next installment of your favorite franchise at all; between accepting abusive levels of DRM and the fact you're only renting, or not participating in the gaming culture.
Probably the 2 most common people that got screwed by this are people that use IFTTT and people that control their thermostat with an Alexa. Google is walking back some of their earlier statements and saying they may allow certain "trusted" partners to keep using the old API, so Alexa users may end up being OK. Another less common use case (but one that affects me) is using their developer API to take a bit more control over things. I use it to log temp/humidity data for my place, and to control my thermostat using Home Assistant.
I actually welcome some of these (one google account, instead of separate nest+google accounts) changes, as it will make things easier to setup for my parents, etc.
All my IoT devices are in a wifi without any internet access.
It's the opposite of interchangeable.
It's true that they're mostly proprietary, and Apple runs its own services, and I hate iTunes these days.
But—and I realize not everyone feels the same way—but at this time they are literally the only b2c company that has any credibility around privacy.
They feel to me—and again, not everyone agrees—they feel to me like the only hardware company that thinks of their users as their customers, and not as cattle to be sold to crapware vendors and search engine behemoths.
I can think of a few: Purism, System76, OSMC, Mycroft... they're smaller and less well-known than the big players of course, and they're not all perfect, but they treat their users as customers unlike many companies these days.
Busy at work, but when I have a chance I'm going to do some DuckDuckGo-ing of these names.
And since were mentioning smaller but still highly useful vendors who treat their users with respect, DuckDuckGo.
Right now Apple makes buckets of cash from their hardware, but if they ever need to tighten their belt you can bet that the extra revenue from selling your data will be extremely tempting.
More like 'WLoT' (Wireless LAN of things)
That's pretty much all I want from home automation as well. I see the value in being able to say "Alexa, turn down the lights" and having AWS do the voice recognition - but given that I can't trust services to stay more than a few years, I'm not going to invest in it.
Apple sells Apple Home Hub, I wonder if that's their "central control system" so that the Apple Home devices can be a bit dumber, but also it means there's a central firewall and system that can look for updates.
Also if you can install the "cloud-end" on your own device, when the company goes Nest, it means you can at least run an old version to keep your "IoT" gadget running, and it'll be running on the (hopefully) firewalled local hub.
Apple doesn't sell a "home hub" product. But their smart speaker (HomePod), TV set top box (Apple TV) and tablets (iPad) can all function as a gateway for HomeKit devices to be securely controlled from outside the LAN without the devices themselves having to be very smart or secure.
Totally feasible to make a killer wireless AP that's Apple branded and connects better to the ecosystem, but that doesn't seem to be the direction Apple is going.
It's a shame they stopped investing in them and missing the whole mesh Wi-Fi development. Also in this age where they're touting "privacy first" and iTunes is on the endangered list, not supporting iOS device backups over a LAN is a huge deficiency.
The management solution in my home is OpenHab2, but Home Assistant also works fine.
There are a few other products I use (for blinds, windows, heat), but you can often simply search the above two lists and read through the documentation whether they need internet (or "cloud") access or whether theyre totally local.
I personally prefer OpenHAB over HomeAssistant, but the thing that annoys me about OpenHAB2 is that it doesn't have even rudimentary built in user management with authentication. The docs basically tell you to use something like Nginx to do that for you.
if you want a super simple setup, they have manual guides for setting it up. And if you just want remote access and don't need Alexa/Google integration, it almost as simple manually.
My A/C is on Wifi though, and the cloudy controller web page is using a REST API (undocumented but simple enough to sniff and fake), so that's the only outlier so far.
I'll have to give Node-RED a go once I find some spare time to tinker.
Even if I wanted to pay a subscription fee to some external service for my hub, the risk of service disruption, hacking of my network, and/or misappropriation of my personal data are just too high.
Remember when built in intercom systems in the home were considered advanced?
Dunno. Maybe. But for me to be interested in something it still has to be something that is going to pay back my fiddling in probably ten years, where I can expect to have to replace it, and I'm still not impressed by any of the the demos I've seen. I'm just not that inconvenienced by having to turn on lights.
I think everyone is getting at least 20 years out of their Ethernet connections, likely more. That's not as durable as electical cables but good enough for most cases (plenty of things need updates after 20 years in a building).
- digital currencies
- smart homes (Bill gates had his house 'smart homed' to the wazoo with tens of NT servers taking care of everything, like switching lights on and off)
- food delivery startups Webvan, Kozmo,
- livestreaming (JenniCam)
1) Go with a cloud service using products exclusively made by a single major company, like Google or Amazon. This is simpler to setup and maintain but more expensive.
2) Go with an open source solution, like Home Assistant. Cheaper option with more control but requires a lot of time to learn, setup and maintain.
Both options should be considered safe at this point.
Edit: added emphasis on "made by" since many were missing that nuance. Buying a single brand of HA from a single company should be considered safe.
I'm not talking about buying compatible devices made by other manufacturers, this API issue shows is that isn't safe.
And in this case, Google just gave all their customers using the Nest API the finger. How is it safe to trust them going forward?
Get open source hardware and software that you can maintain yourself or suck it up and cough up the dough.
Making any company a single point of failure is a bad idea. You are basically giving up your freedom of choice for maybe some convenience, but don't confuse it with guarantee of sustained service.
IMO buying any hardware tied to a SaaS is a dumb idea.
3) Find a local home automation company and look at their offerings. There's a chance you'll find people willing to sell you actual products that are optionally Internet-connected, but not Internet-first, and are not tied to a garbage SaaS. They'll install and service them for you too. Key words here are "home automation"; I find looking for this phrase instead of "IoT" to weed out a lot of garbage.
You mean like Nest? Not a good example.
Better advice is buying something non-cloud based which uses established standards and which works entirely within your LAN.
If the company goes down, at least you can interact with the devices using the standards they were built on (Zigbee, z-wave, etc).
Reread my original comment. I say you'd be safe if you buy products made BY a single company. This API effects those who bought things that are made by other manufacturers.
They're firewalled to my LAN and integrated into iOS using Homebridge running on my Synology NAS.
I also like that I'll be able to use my google login for my Nest products in the future, and the author even agrees that the Nest app is not great and the Google Home app is what I currently use anyway for my Nest products.
I feel like the only real downside of all this is the Works With Nest platform is dead? Looks like they're working with Amazon on Alexa integration so that is nice, hopefully that will be ready by the end of August and work with more companies about integration.
Moving to Google Accounts is more murky: I can definitely see and sympathize with arguments on the basis of Google's overall business model and how it seems off for an ad company to be creating products for the home. With that said, Nest accounts (like the app) are woeful and only support the weakest of 2FA methods. (And in fact, I had that break for me on their desktop site -- enter the 2FA, then infinite loading.)
And the definite downside everyone seems to agree on is that killing Works with Nest (especially on a, IMO, short timeframe) shatters the trust placed in that ecosystem. Clickbait comments are focusing on the short-term which is going to be messy and involve a lot of people ditching Nest, but (whether I agree with it or not) I don't see APIs which give direct device access like Works with Nest even being a thing in the future.
In a world where the WSJ is sounding the alarm at people adding benign add-ons to Gmail by their own hand, not to mention people blaming Nest for their own weak passwords, it may be that even basic security principles need to be re-examined and in a way "dumbed down." An example of this dumbing down is removing the ability to turn the recording light off moving forward.
"Dumbing down" is a negative term, but I'm trying to apply it as neutrally as possible. It makes sense to Google to remove that ability, since any blowback would fall on them. I'm honestly surprised we haven't yet seen the headline "Google's Nest Cam recorded me even though it looked turned off," when the real story there would be an ex-SO or roommate opted to turn the light off and start recording.
For all the backlash Google has gotten lately, it really does seem like they're trying to be more open with their privacy controls lately (disabling the option to turn off the camera light), as well as encouraging more security.
The entire Cambridge Analytica/Facebook debacle was possible because users granted certain apps access to their data in the first place. And with the Works With Nest program we have users granting access to their cameras/smoke detectors/thermostats and just assuming/hoping that everything will be OK. Just a matter of time until something goes wrong and Google is better off scrapping the old way and creating something new with more security - even if it means losing certain features that were possible before.
More people, know-how, and money are always good things for a product.