back to article Knock, knock. Hello, delivery person: I am this building's SKYPE OVERLORD

London’s Earl’s Court plays host to 100% Design again this week, the UK’s largest showcase event for architects, designers and manufacturers. It's not all supercool decor, furniture and lighting though, as you'll find some tech gems among the design icons too. Got a Skype account? Who hasn’t? Skype’s great for distance calling …


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  1. James Boag

    Rip off

    I'm working on this for my Raspberry pi based doorbell,

    as it's bloody annoying for my phone to tell me someones

    at my front door, whist i am at work 40 miles away !

  2. Slartybardfast

    Hang On

    So they expect a delivery driver to wait around whilst you fish out your phone/tablet from it's hiding place (bag) and answer the Skype call? Around here you have to answer the door within 5 seconds or they're off. Sometimes they're off without even ringing the bell. It's a nice idea in a perfect world but not in mine I'm afraid.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Hang On

      Nooo the video will just flash up on your google gegs causing you to drive into a tree.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So if you want building automation, get a specialist. Not MS

    Who've pitched this sort of thing a few times IIRC.

    And it's always been rubbish.

    BTW I think this system assumed German delivery drivers, who probably have a proscribed wait time in their staff manual.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: So if you want building automation, get a specialist. Not MS

      They certainly aren't targeting DHL drivers, you're lucky if they even get out of the van if they don't see a sign that there's someone in. Assuming they found the house in the first place.

    2. Christian Berger


      if building automation specialists are like industrial automation (aka SCADA) specialists.... I'd actually rather with Microsoft. Security in SCADA is even worse than Windows security in the 1990s. There's no encryption, no authentication, and complex undocumented protocols. One core element of many of those systems is DCOM for example, a Windows-only binary RPC system... which Microsoft stopped supporting years ago. And of course it's configured without any of its meagre security features by people who can just get it to work.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skype you say ?

    Well the NSA will know who is knocking at my door then and if they are terrorists ready to blow the shit out of my house then I can carry on enjoying my holiday in the knowledge the NSA will take care of everything.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Small detail

    The delivery guy could leave your package, but how do you sign for it?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Small detail

      "The delivery guy could leave your package, but how do you sign for it?"


      You mean the indecipherable squiggle on a battered screen?

  6. Don Jefe


    As John Smith noted above, this sort of thing is always crap and is replete with stack on complications.

    All deliveries to my home are taken by the staff at the sentry box gatehouse. My system is far simpler; a set and forget type arrangement. My man, Reginald, handles the details like background checks, hobbling, loved-one leverage demonstrations and payroll. There are also no risks with respect to power outages or satellite coverage gaps and associated signal availability issues.

    I highly recommend a similar arrangement for anyone interested in streamlining their home supply chain logistics.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: ProleTech

      I propose a simpler and purely mechanical solution. A hinged sping-loaded flap in your door, which can be lifted up, and the delivered article then slid through, to rest safe and dry until you return. We could call it a "letter box".

      1. ecofeco Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: ProleTech

        "We could call it a "letter box"."

        But simplification is just so... boring, don't you think? So plebeian.

        Shiny knobs and animated glyphs have much more appeal these days. After all, if it isn't complicated, it must not be any good, right?

      2. Don Jefe

        Re: ProleTech

        A "letter box" you say? Genius! I suggest the marketing droids get on it, maybe spice up the name a little. More 21st century. How about "secure parcel delivery port"?

        Alternatively go with a completely modern model. Give them a 'free' branded "letter box" with the caveat that everything that passes through the "letter box" is scanned with the contents information used to build a profile of you?

        It's a revenue generator both ways: Sales of branding rights with customized corporate logos and sales of customer information!

        "Click Here to order your Amazon Secure Shipment Vault".

        1. Lottie

          Re: ProleTech

          Superb suggestion. Does that mean, however, that SPDP actuation results in a backdoor in your front door?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: ProleTech

      You let tradesmen use the main gate? How unbecoming, not to mention dangerous. Are you aware of the mortal danger involved in seeing someone actually doing some real work?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1) Over Skype...don't think so.

    2) Unless you have a lobby with a further locked door then it's not a brilliant drivers aren't very well paid and they have a van with them.

    3) Wouldn't work if you needed a signature

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just use SIP!

    Already doing this using SIP, installed it over a year ago (after several years of theorising about using our existing camera doorphone). Admittedly, most of the time I rely on it forwarding to my mobile rather than using SIP video as 3G coverage can be a bit flaky here, but it has proved its usefulness with deliveries and unexpected visitors. If I want the full fat version, I fire up the SIP client on my phone.

    However, even though the unit I use can activate relays, I wouldn't trust an externally (either physical or internet) connected device with access to any security lock.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge


    We've got one of those stupid building automation systems. It's a piece of crap. You have to hold down a light switch for 30 seconds or more because the controlling PC is too crap and overloaded to poll more often.

    Oh yeah and after 5pm, it starts randomly killing the lights, because you don't trigger the motion sensors sitting in your cube actually doing work.


    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Ugh.

      Get a cheap oscillating desk fan and stick it near the light sensor. That's what we used to do.

      I almost guarantee there's a test switch on the sensor. Just pop the cover off and flip the DIP switches until they stay on :) Or smash it accidentally...

  10. John Tserkezis

    "Got a Skype account? Who hasn’t?"

    Ahem, wouldn't it be more correct that if you've *ever* created a Skype account, said account would absolutely, positively also be still around now?

    Mainly because it's certifiably impossible to get rid of it...

  11. Elmer Phud

    Just wait a moment, please

    Once the visitor is in the secured lobby the next command locks the doors and yellow or green smoke starts to rise from vents . . .

    After a short time the floor of the lobby drops and deposits the fucking 'energy switch' drone in to the cellar.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Local Collect?

      Other than costing 50p how does that differ from the normal scenario for working people of having to collect their parcels from the post office?

      Don't get me wrong, it's a great concept, mainly because it was what was already working. Nobody home because they're at work, neighbours the same, back it goes and a card through the letter box. Far better than the couriers system of vaguely slowing down as they pass your house then delivering everything for the area to one house or returning it to an industrial estate 30 miles away.

      It would be great to see better support, but many companies don't like pobox deliveries and this is pretty similar. They should support it for established accounts only perhaps?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Local Collect?

          Ah, ours always was sat in the local post office waiting to be picked up, but that was in a rural setting. Thinking about it, when I lived in a city it was in the depot so that would make a lot more sense.

  13. Andy Livingstone


    Sink the drunken sub-editor. He is way past it.

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