back to article It's War: Internet of things firms butt heads over talking-fridge tech standards

Intel’s Internet of Stuff standards-seeking group is planning to have a first code drop of middleware ready for developers in the third quarter this year, the firm told The Register. Smart home Gary Martz, Chipzilla's wireless product line manager, said that between members like Intel, Broadcom, Samsung, Dell and Atmel, the …

  1. d3rrial

    Hmm

    Who'da thunk it.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Hmm

      Yea. My house needs more things in it for malware to perch.

  2. SVV Silver badge

    Love the picture on the first page

    Presumably the toaster is connected to the internet because operating a toaster is just so difficult that it could be vastly improved by having to configure it to connect to your wi-fi connection and then using an app to operate it because that just takes so much less effort. Similarly for the diagram on the wall, featuring some of these oh-so-difficult to operate devices like a lamp, or indeed a washing machine - WTF?

    So after taking my clothes downstairs and loading them into the washing machine with detergent and closing the door, I'm going to use an app to start it instead of pressing the button I currently use?

    Apart from the trendy hype that people seem to be cashing in on, what is the point of this nonsense that I am failing to see?

    1. malle-herbert
      Big Brother

      Re: what is the point of this nonsense that I am failing to see?

      Companies making money off of advertising perhaps ?

      Selling all this juicy private data they've collected to the highest bidder maybe ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Love the picture on the first page

      Before the designers of toasters get all dewy eyed over the prospects for their Internet of Toasters, perhaps they'd like to concentrate on the basic functions, and make a toaster that won't burn the bl00dy toast, and doesn't take forever to do the toast, and does the toast evenly without singeing the edges (and without me having to twiddle the knob every time I put a different sized slice of bread in).

    3. Mark Cathcart

      Re: Love the picture on the first page

      agreed, totally first world problems. The concept of course being that your fridge will know when you are out of stuff, or its gone off, it will place orders with Amazon, who'll deliver by drone; when the drone arrives, the IoT connected door will unlock, the fridge will open and the drone will push the stuff in the fridge and leave.

      What could possibly go wrong...

    4. Bunbury

      Re: Love the picture on the first page

      It might all be trendy hype but there may be some handy applications. After all, burglar alarms sort of do something similar, alerting the local plod remotely that a break in has occured.

      It might be quite handy for my washer/tumbler to tell me that it's finished it's cycle but the clothes aren't dry because the flesh unit put too many in again. So I can tell it to run the drying bit again and also forward to the manufacturer to ask is this related to the little orange warning light on my dryer LED?

      And I'd quite like to be able to have my car checked remotely so that daft yellow warning light that came on when I left the window open last year and moisture got into the works could be turned off.

      And when I'm away from home for a week it would be nice to remotely programme a set of times for various lights to come on/off so it looks like I'm at home.

      And while I'm not really needing a remote toaster a remote oven would be good. so that I can warm it up before I get home or perhaps put a joint in and then get it going an hour or so before I get home.

      Of course, all of these have risks if hacked. And aren't strictly necessary. But the nature of it is younger generations expect things as a matter of course that older ones can't see the point of. What's the point of a spreadsheet when I can do it in my head? Or a refridgerator when I have my ice delivered and the pantry keeps things cool? And that printing malarkey will come to nothing, mark my words.

      1. Charles Manning

        Re: Love the picture on the first page

        "It might be quite handy for my washer/tumbler to tell me that it's finished it's cycle but the clothes aren't dry because the flesh unit put too many in again."

        If it know the clothes aren't dry then would it not be better if it just kept going a bit longer and dried them without even bothering you?

        I recently read an article in an EE magazine where an author from a IoT company was describing hypothetical benefits, much like yours.

        The author I mention that if you left your car lights on the car should send you a text and tell you, allowing you to text it back that you want the lights off. Surely it would be better to do what current cars do: beep when the lights are on and the ignition is off or just turn the lights off after 30 seconds.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Charles Manning

          Yes, you're 100% correct! We do need smarter devices, but not smarter because they're on the internet and we can control them with the an app, but smarter SO WE DON'T HAVE TO.

          I can't think of a single legitimate reason why a toaster, washing machine, or fridge needs to be networked to anything, or any benefit it could provide.

          People can come up with all these crazy scenarios to utilize new tech of the "solution looking for a problem" variety, like having NFC tags sewn into every article of clothing, so the right cycle for the clothing will be chosen automatically. In contrast, some of the newer fancier washing machines use the same cycle for everything. Basically, the equivalent of a "delicates" cycle that is able to clean anything well.

          That's the best way to improve products, with the technology and innovation applied in the right place. Not to attempt to create a multi billion dollar industry out of solving the wrong problems and making products more complex and increasing their potential failure modes without providing any benefit to the consumer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            re: I can't think of a single legitimate reason

            why a toaster, washing machine, or fridge needs to be networked to anything, or any benefit it could provide.

            Actually, I recently got into gardening and have a poly tunnel in the back garden. Before that I was (and still am) interested in Arduino and sensors and that kind of thing. It seems to me that these two hobbies could come together quite nicely. I can get a "weather board" to measure temperature, humidity, light levels and UV index and a combo of a solar panel, battery charger and voltage regulator would give me a wealth of data on conditions in the tunnel. Add in an SD card module for storing the data and some actuated devices (like fans or vents) for increasing ventilation when it's needed and you've got a pretty good system, I think. I could envision using a similar sensor system at other stages in food production, such as monitoring temperature in a solar dehydrator or for keeping stored fruit and veg at the optimum temperature and humidity.

            The three items you mention probably have no reason for being "connected", but for the example I just gave, it's much more about the increasing ubiquity of cheap sensors that people can use to come up with new and interesting projects. My plans don't (yet) include any way to get real-time access to data or to get alerts when things go into the "red zone". I've toyed with the idea of using bluetooth or even an RF transmitter, but both are a pain to develop and add extra cost.

            I think that bluetooth holds the most promise going forward. If it managed to win out there'd no doubt have dirt cheap components available for tinkerers like me, and it should work in places where you can't get wifi (at least not without expensive repeaters) and have the advantage of being really low power so that each part of the net could run for ages on battery power.

            I don't care at all for "middleware", though. Especially those that want to store your stuff for you "in the cloud" and then charge you for the privilege. Hopefully people will see through these blatant attempts to insert themselves into the minutiae of your sensor network and tell them to fuck right off.

        2. Bunbury

          Re: Love the picture on the first page

          The point I was trying to convey was that while a lot of the time you can plan in advance or have intelligent kit make decisions for you, sometimes you have a change of plan when you are not physically at the device. If the cost of networking is trivial, why not have the extra flexibility?

          So if my train gets delayed why would i not want to let the pre-programmed oven know to delay a bit?

    5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Love the picture on the first page

      You totally missed the point.

      What is the technological difference between a toaster and a thermal printer?

      Would not it be lovely if you had some ads printed on that toast?

    6. Justthefacts

      Re: Love the picture on the first page

      Yes...because:

      broadly, half the stuff we use has a rubbish UI (crap buttons) that cost a moderate amount to design and make. like a microwave. Or a coffee machine. A coffee machine costing £500 has a bunch of buttons taking up real estate, rather pointlessly has a SCREEN to enable the UI, and still ends up being worse UI than a free app on a phone.

      Washing machine: when it stops working within warranty, the man (!) comes, paid for by £10-£20 of purchase price to enable warranty, presses the button on the front to read two digit code, clucks knowingly to himself, taps into his handheld, and makes another appointment in a weeks time to come back With the 50p part. Manufacturer hates maintaining a ridiculous repair business; you waste £10-£20 of purchase price of every white good price subsidising the repairman by back door, AND you get to wait in for the repairman TWICE. As opposed to the device ordering its spare part automatically via Amazon.

      More on the washing machine: hands up who knows what all the settings do? Really, all of them?Now, look at your calculator App with Standard, Sci, Programmer one-click UI. Get it? White goods shouldn't have all the complexity on front panel, they should show What YOu Want.

      Freezer: when the power goes off, it has an alarm. When I'm in the kitchen some hours later, I'll know that £100 of food went to waste. Yippee. Or...I could get a text! Power staying up long enough to send a single Bluetooth Smart message bridged to text or email, shouldn't be beyond wit of man

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Love the picture on the first page

        @Justthefacts

        "More on the washing machine: hands up who knows what all the settings do? Really, all of them?"

        Yes. Lets see Duvet for Duvets, Baby, for nappies etc, Whites for whites, economy for economy, quick wash for quick wash. Oh and the £20 added for the repair man, will just be replaced by the £20 added for all the tech required. Oh and how about the millions of people that won't hook it up, will that suddenly go away? Or do you propose it is mandatory?

        "Freezer: when the power goes off, it has an alarm. When I'm in the kitchen some hours later, I'll know that £100 of food went to waste."

        If your food defrosts in a few hours in a freezer, you need a better freezer, ffs 24 hours and it should still be pretty good.! Oh and all the flashing lights on the digital clock should tell you about the power outage. And when it alerts you of a power outage (by bluetooth??????? how long a range does that have!) when you are 50 miles away, what are you going to do, race back home and put it errrrrrrrr.

        Seriously, we have survived for millennia without it, I doubt we will al suddenly drop dead if we don't get it now. It's just a fad

    7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Love the picture on the first page

      Is it just me or is the model in the picture and the the Asus beach babe one and the same?

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/10/woman_want_tech_for_valentines_day/

      http://regmedia.co.uk/2014/08/04/smart_home_shutterstock.jpg

      http://regmedia.co.uk/2011/11/09/eee_4.jpg

  3. Tenacal

    Given the amount of time it took for phone sockets to become standard (a "standard" that still isn't fully accepted by all companies) then I don't think we'll be seeing an IoT agreement for quite some time, regardless of what various groups may state.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If it's going to take 10 years, the sooner they get started, the better!

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first
    IT Angle

    Why?

    I still remain to be convinced how the Internet of Things would benefit me.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Why?

      "I still remain to be convinced how the Internet of Things would benefit me."

      You're not supposed to think like that. You're supposed to think how innovative and brilliant it all is, and how useful it'll be to be able to start the tumble dryer from the comfort of your arm chair without getting up (even though you got up to load it), to be able to see that you're out of milk (because you won't have noticed that using your eyes when you made that last cuppa), or whatever, even though all of this stuff is really a crock of shit. That way, if you're one of the gullible twats the IoPT companies' valuable target demographic, you'll lap it up and embrace it and buy new stuff to replace perfectly functional old stuff - and...

      ... and the reason the IoPT companies' target demographic is valuable, is because that target demographic are really the product; their real customers are those who will be able to use all that lovely data they collect for advertising, etc.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Facepalm

        @VinceH -- Re: Why?

        In other words: "Shiny! Shiny!!"

        1. VinceH

          Re: @VinceH -- Why?

          Yes, that sums up what we're supposed to think quite neatly, I think.

  5. Big_Ted
    Big Brother

    Cor what a great idea.....

    Send a file from one phone to another with wireless......

    Wow I never though anyone would get that one sorted.....

    Oh sorry they have.....

    OK my fridge will be able to tell me I'm out of milk, but I just threw away the carton and noticed, and I noticed the butter was almost empty when I put it back in the fridge......

    Um.... lights, curtains etc to set moods by clapping my hands........ done

    Got it, I can drive my car from the back seat using my phone...... Yeh baby a real use, I can drive and be the back seat driver at the same time.... Brill, I can also start it and defrost it in the winter with the same phone...WOW, just make sure your kids don't grab your phone off you....

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Cor what a great idea.....

      my fridge will be able to tell me I'm out of milk, but I just threw away the carton and noticed

      And of course now when you're going on holiday and have deliberately run the milk down to zero you have to remember to tell the fridge as well, otherwise you'll get home to 10 litres of sour milk and a kilo of rancid butter on the doorstep because the fridge kept ordering more...

    2. Justthefacts

      Re: Cor what a great idea.....

      These are silly strawman applications, no one wants to drive their car from back seat.

      But let's look at the crazy old stuff we do currently. MOTs !

      Way back in the nineteenth or twentieth century, the government made a rule that once a year they would check the "roadworthiness" of your car. And somehow, that made it "good to go" for a year. No one actually thought it made much sense, and no one took it very seriously. Once a year, we dutifully put in for the voodoo MOT, to keep "the man" off your back.

      Now, in the 21C, your car KNOWS what your brake disc wear is like, what the emissions are (sensors up the wazoo), if the wipers work, if the oil is ok. The traction control knows what the tire GRIP is like. In real time. Steering geometries, tracking, worn suspension bushings. it knows every time you start the car whether it is really fit to be on the road. It is very difficult to seriously maintain that annual MOT is fit for purpose in modern world, as regards allowing safe cars on the road. It's just habit and voodoo. All of it could be communicated via net.

      What about all the software upgrades for car? Do you really not want the fix for "uncommanded acceleration" until T get round to safety recall 6 months later? Even though you routinely upgrade to ios7e because you like whizzy icons?

      What about knowing about the accident just round the tightening bend, that happened 10 seconds ago? Not interested in 802.11p that might make this survivable for you? I know you personally always drive within visibility limits, but there is a car on two wheels sliding across the carriageway.....

      Start and defrost car before you get in.....I see you never lived in Canada...this stuff is mandatory to be able to start remotely. When the temperature is -40C, it would be Life Threatening to have to open the car from cold and wait till it warms up. Yes, cars are started on warming blocks. And, if you are 70 and you get to the car and it fails but you dont know it before you get there, this may not be survivable if you fumble the keys

      So,no, driving James Bond style via ipad is pretty useless. No one ever suggested it

      1. lucki bstard

        Re: Cor what a great idea.....

        'When the temperature is -40C, it would be Life Threatening to have to open the car from cold and wait till it warms up.'

        Why not do what the rest of us do and get up, press remote starter to start the car up, get breakfast. Or wonder out in your dressing gown and plug the car in and then after the coffee and breakfast go start the car and leave it running for 10 minutes. As for life threatening which province/territory are you living in? -40C is not an issue, my kids still get the school bus at -40C, are you sure you have lived in Canada? Or maybe you lived in a coastal province?

        The worst part of the winter is not the cold car (why would you sit in a cold car without a jacket or toque?) but the idiots on the road who think all seasons will allow them to stop in winter especially when they are driving out of a city.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lactose larceny

    The office fridge Nazis can't wait for this; marry up the tech' with some bio-metrics and finally they'll know who has been stealing their milk!

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Lactose larceny

      Add green food dye to your milk. It tends to put the milk thieves off... :)

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Lactose larceny

        "Add green food dye to your milk. It tends to put the milk thieves off..."

        I prefer yellow myself. Looks absolutely disgusting!

      2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: Lactose larceny

        Add green food dye to your milk. It tends to put the milk thieves off... :)

        Nah... just write "milk experiment #339" on it and throw out the odd conversation about how fascinating various moulds and chemical reactions are. Bonus points for walking around in a white lab coat stained with ... something.

        Green dye is just liable to get your milked flushed down the loo by housemates fearing an "it came from the fridge" scenario.

  7. Eddy Ito

    I'm torn

    Never agreeing to a standard means the Net-o-Stuff never really takes over. If they do create a fixed standard it will be much easier to filter it at the firewall. I have to be honest, I'm leaning toward the latter as the better option.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tinfoil hats for toasters

    Toasters are not afraid of the Lizard people however, I hereby claim the right to patent tinfoil hats for toasters to protect them from the mind controlling rays sent out by the washing machine and fridge. I will be publishing a reference design for manufacturers on a piece of foolscap paper in the near future.

  9. Cipher

    OMG!!

    My toaster has been h@X0red...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I really hope this gets sorted. I've been waiting the best part of 15years to be able to be offered toast at all hours of the day via all communication methods possible. Although I suspect my toaster will end up suffering the same fate as Listers.

    All joking aside the one thing that the IOT will be useful for is the one thing that no one really seems to be paying much attention to. Fire/CO2 alarms (okay so that's two things) I'd quite like to be alerted to the fact my wife is cooking, or that the kids are slowly falling asleep from carbon monoxide poisoning if I am out of the house.

    1. Daggersedge

      Why do you need to be alerted to the fact that your wife is cooking?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        ...because of his second comment.

  11. James Boag

    I got board of waiting

    Now i can control my aquarium lights from my phone via a raspberry pi, Still a dam site cheaper that the other solutions being offered by BIG-CORP-INC and much more fun to code and build :)

    1. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Re: I got board of waiting

      This sounds more like a "board of control" to me. Isn't a board of waiting a tray?

      Mind you, 'round here we usually play with the word order: cheese board, control board, circuit board, etc.

  12. earl grey
    Flame

    no thanks

    I can't think of a single appliance or device in my house that i want connected to any other device and especially NOT to the interwebs where the data is available to a "select few" or to some derp hacker down the street from me.

    I barely let my computer talk to the internet; and there are days i wonder about that.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NFC

    No

    Frigging

    Chance

    that I will EVER, repeat EVER let any item of household 'white goods' be connected to the internet. That includes a toaster.

    Hey merketeers in search of a question for your answer... Do you understand that? Nah thought not.

    Just because you can there is no needs to wet your pants at the thought of all that nice data you can slurp that you should.\

    I may (and I suspect that I am not alone amongst other comentards here) actually select devices that can't be connected up or at the very least have the feature easily disabled.

    I know in the US that there are people talking about DMCA violations for turning this crap off. I certainly don't want any of it. If it means going to jail because I hacked my device then so be it.

  14. Dan Paul

    Watch the commercial for the grill on Youtube (Parody)

    Check this out, it shows how I feel about the IoT.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUHfcqJ6pEM

    IoT=Stupid and Shiney but totally useless.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IPv6.

    ...and they are thinking of NOT Connecting stuff with the 'net, thus rendering IPv6 USELESS.

    Don't you love when someone design stuff that will be 'usable' in the future... and that future never comes, or when it does, whatever they designed will have. no. use. at. all.

  16. graeme leggett

    interesting alliances

    In general they seem to be made up of the companies that make their money out of networking, or devices. But not the companies that actually make the kit that might be expected to be joined over this internetmarketing bod's wet dream of things.

    No Hotpoint or Honeywell, Miele or Bosch? Are these standards being develops, in isolation from the end devices? Orr will Bekoes et al be expected to like it or lump it.

  17. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Never mind making the fridge talk to the toaster, build the thing with the compressor on top so the bugger doesn't use so much electricity heating *itself*.

  18. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Numbers, numbers, numbers...

    Gartner has predicted that the Internet of Odds and Ends market will add $1.9trn to the global economy by 2020

    Other than Gartner coming up with an arbitrary number as usual ("making numbers up for whoever pays us since 1979" really ought to be their tagline), can somebody tell me just where this money will materialise from? "Services" is just a redistribution of money, Internet of Stuff won't create money, it will just create another avenue for redistributing it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think we're in luck

    Because companies aren't going to want to work together if they believe the market will be as big as they say. The ones that invest money on R&D and get all this working seamlessly aren't going to want to let others leverage their hard work for free. They'll see it as a competitive advantage if the appliances they sell can are network enabled in some sort of (they believe) useful way. That's an advantage that would presumably increase their sales, not something to be handed over for free.

    Then you have the device makers, the Apples, Googles etc. that aren't selling the IoT devices but will sell the devices that talk to them, and write the software that integrates with them. It is easier for them if everyone agrees on a standard, but if they can get LG or GE to pay them to support their appliances' protocol, why not?

    Don't count out the ISPs and cell carriers either, they'll want to figure out a way they can get their hands in this pie, and will want to offer branded service that makes it harder for customers to switch to a competitor.

    So I won't worry about this useless crap becoming standardized anytime soon.

  20. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Happy

    toasters and fridges and washing machines. Oh my!

    All this IoT stuff always makes me think of Michael Marshall Smith... and smile.

  21. Captain DaFt

    A sign tech companies are desperate for the next big thing

    When satire from the 1990s becomes today's next big thing:

    http://snewpy.com/2008/06/teh-funny/

    Note: ubergeek.tv is sadly no more, but fortunately, Snewpy found this classic on the Wayback Machine.

  22. Goat Jam

    What a whole lot of corporate posturing for something that nobody actually wants. This is like Apple, Samsung and MS fighting it out over who gets to set the standard API for smartwatches. Even the winner loses because nobody wanted that shite in the first place.

  23. earl grey
    Trollface

    the best hasn't even been mentioned

    Your shiney new fridge has just slurped up all your internet bandwidth for the month...sorry, you are getting slowed down to a lower tier and charged extra since your toaster wants to play on the interwebs, too.

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