back to article A moment of brilliance? UPnP for Internet of Stuff lightbulbs

Home automation can be a lot of fun. However, it can also be the cause of an awful lot of headaches. So, you thought those remote control plug sockets from the DIY store were a good deal? Vintage electric lamps Shedding light on compatibility issues Maybe they were ... and then you find, when you get them home, that they …

  1. BongoJoe

    It's bad enough having to go to the next town to change the bulb in the kitchen of my ancestor when it pops. Having to deal with the in-house cloud is going to take things to a disfunctional level which only Philip K Dick could dream of.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Not sure but I think it was one of Michael Marshall Smith's characters that had an alarm clock following him about.

    2. Simon Harris

      If you've got an in-house cloud, you should probably turn the humidifier off.

      1. Captain DaFt

        But they're so pretty!

        http://abcnews.go.com/International/photos/artist-creates-clouds-art-15903014/image-15903039

      2. Fungus Bob

        "If you've got an in-house cloud, you should probably turn the humidifier off."

        Humidifier? You should change your diet!

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Making things simple

    Let us not forget to make things secure.

    I do not want this stuff at all until I have reasonably good proof that my neighbors kid (who thinks he's a hacker) will not be able to turn my lights on or off at his leisure (because he'll have the time to try and the temptation will certainly be much too great).

    And even when I have this kind of proof, I'm likely to not buy into it anyway.

    I like manual controls.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Making things simple

      "I like manual controls."

      Me too. And the best we seem to have promised by TIoT is as follows:

      1) Colour changing lighting

      2) the connected fridge (unclear how this helps me)

      3) the ability to turn my heating on or off by remote control (ignoring that a thermostat and timer work for most of us)

      At the moment it looks like TioT is going to be like 3D telly. It will eventually be built into every suitable device, but nobody will use it.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Making things simple

        3) the ability to turn my heating on or off by remote control

        Now I would buy into this for sure. You know on those dark, cold wintry days when you realise that the firewood is in the barn and needs chopping and there's none by the side of the fire.

        If it could somehow chop the wood, bring it in, sort out the dry kindling and get a good blazing fire going in the stove then I would gladly allow the app on my phone.

        1. 080

          Re: Making things simple

          "Now I would buy into this for sure. You know on those dark, cold wintry days when you realise that the firewood is in the barn and needs chopping and there's none by the side of the fire.

          If it could somehow chop the wood, bring it in, sort out the dry kindling and get a good blazing fire going in the stove then I would gladly allow the app on my phone."

          I already have this sorted, and she also makes me a cup of tea in bed while the fire is lighting, a little gem and no need for an app.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Coat

            Re: Making things simple

            You can get a furnace hopper fed with pelletised wood - don't know where you get the pettets from though - delivered like oil or another device to make them with a transport device between 'em - of course this will end up IoT as well

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Making things simple

          "If it could somehow chop the wood, bring it in, sort out the dry kindling and get a good blazing fire going in the stove then I would gladly allow the app on my phone."

          That conjures up the unintended consequences of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Making things simple @Ledswinger

        The real motivation for the IoT lies in giving megacorps and by extension, through the backdoors, big government, access to what's going on inside your house.

        At the moment there's just a little too much privacy surrounding that area of your life for their liking.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Making things simple

        It is easy to be a technophobe with the rapid emergence of new technology but we have been advancing our laziness-via-tech for some time and most people seem to embrace it.

        I'm no big fan of the hype of IoT and anyone in tech is going to be worried about security, updates and incompatible standards. However for the general population they could rapidly embrace it if it was in consumer products at the right price and simple to set up.

        All it needs is a link to you and your location - smartphones are generally pretty ubiquitous nowadays and wearables of some kind might also be at some point (whether that is as simple as a keyring or a band rather than a watch). Then your tech enabled home could open your garage door when your car arrives at home and unlock your front door as you get close to the handle. Depending on the time of day your specified lighting goes on. It has already heated your home up to your required temperature and your favourite radio station that you listen to in the evening comes on.

        Your location based reminders of things to do when you get home are sent to your phone, watch, electronic noticeboard or tv screen. 15 minutes before your usual bedtime, or when you select go to bed mode on your device your heated blanket starts up, the lights downstairs dim, your bedroom lights light up and you bedside radio starts playing.

        When you leave in the morning your car has already warmed up, your heating turns down to frost mode and all the lights adn non essential electrics switch off.

        Etc Etc.

        It may sound too pervasive for some, but others would love it. I can definitely see the advantages for creating a more automated lifestyle but I can also understand why Luddites might fear it.

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: Making things simple

          When you leave in the morning your car has already warmed up, your heating turns down to frost mode and all the lights adn non essential electrics switch off.

          You have a streaming cold. You are shivering, you can't focus and you can't think straight because the brain isn't functioning. Every joint in your body aches and you can barely shuffle around.

          You wisely take the day off work and lie in bed listening to the radio with the bedside lamp on. The lamp goes off, the radio goes off the house becomes dark. It's getting colder and colder and you need to get warm.

          And then, you hear the car start up...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Making things simple

            "You wisely take the day off work ..."

            Wow you work in IT and you can't problem solve how you might not be able to automatically detect if someone is carrying out their normal routine or they are still in bed?

            The point of the system is devices communicate with each other and become situational and sensor aware. If you have ever used Tasker on a mobile phone you will understand how you can mange tasks based on inputs. Or perhaps, you've once had to change your alarm clock or turn it off the night before because your usual wake-up routing is not going to happen?

            Maybe you health monitor would know that you are ill and offer to contact your workplace, a pharmacy delivery service and cancel your normal routine?

            There's plenty of possibilities, now I've given you a headstart maybe you'd like to have a go at thinking of some?

            1. BongoJoe

              Re: Making things simple

              I can see this sort of utopian existance where we're all not living in ticky tack houses where we're all living the utopian dream in which technology knows so much about our lives that we don't need to program it and, yet, when we fall out of the routine for any reason then Plans B, C & D spring into action saving our lives.

              It won't work like that. What will happen is that we'll be ruled more and more by technology, that we're all living in ticky tack estates and all forced into the same drone like nine to fives in our work hives rather than being liberated by technology.

              I'm lucky, I guess. I work for myself at home working the hours that I want for the few customers that I wish to have. If I don't want to work one day then I don't. I find my life so much more liberated and more pleasant than those laden down with devices, wearable hipster beards and all of the other techno-crud purely because I do "get it" and I have chosen not to go with it.

              The whole point, we are told time and time again, is that technology is there to make our lves better. Yes, I admit that we can watch better televsion these days and surf the internets without having dial-up but when it comes to being tethered to the technological wheel with phones needed to open the door or turn on the lights and all the other wonderful advances that we're promised I can guarantee one thing and that is we won't find our lives more liberated but things will be more proscribed and restrictive.

              This is why I, and I dare say some others, are laughing at all this. And I bring to mind that Philip Dick novel in which Our Man couldn't leave the room because he couldn't pay the door. Or in this case because the House Cloud is down.

              The House Cloud? We're going back in time aren't we to when the Romans had their House Gods. Be much the same thing.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Making things simple

              "Maybe you health monitor would know that you are ill and offer to contact your workplace, a pharmacy delivery service and cancel your normal routine?"

              Contingency routines rarely get rigorous testing before a product is marketed - or after a bug fix in the main path.

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: Making things simple

                Make things simple my arse - do all the little things you think are a pain in the arse and you will find that your arse does not need liposuction.

                Best bit about a fire is going and chopping the wood and then coming in and opening the windows cos it too hot indoors.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Making things simple....not

          Then your tech enabled home could open your garage door when your car arrives at home....

          You must live in an another country, because the hundreds of people I know in Britain with a garage don't put their car in it, ever. And technology won't find a home for the kids toys, junk, gardening equipment, tools and other 5hite that stop the car going in (ignoring that most UK garages are so small you'd need to exit the car through the sun roof).

          and unlock your front door as you get close to the handle.

          I'm a lazy beggar, but even I'm not that f***ing lazy.

          Depending on the time of day your specified lighting goes on.

          Wow. How many kcal of energy were saved by not pressing the light switch?

          It has already heated your home up to your required temperature

          What, a bit like my non-IoT programmeable thermostat has for the past twenty years?

          and your favourite radio station that you listen to in the evening comes on.

          My habits are less predictable. Or are you suggesting that there's a brain implant to fix that?

          Your location based reminders of things to do when you get home are sent to your phone, watch, electronic noticeboard or tv screen.

          My God! You see that as "progress"? If electronic equipment tracks me, hounds me, and nags me to do things, what will my wife find to do with her time?

          15 minutes before your usual bedtime, or when you select go to bed mode on your device your heated blanket starts up, the lights downstairs dim, your bedroom lights light up and you bedside radio starts playing.

          Ahh. The car in the garage comes back into focus, the whole scenario you paint suddenly makes sense. It's a beige Honda, with a pipe in the glovebox and a spare pair of slippers in the boot, isn't it?

          When you leave in the morning your car has already warmed up, your heating turns down to frost mode and all the lights adn non essential electrics switch off.

          Pensions are already payable electronically, why would you need to leave the house at all?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Making things simple....not

            "My God! You see that as "progress"? If electronic equipment tracks me, hounds me,"

            Do you have a smartphone?

            "and unlock your front door as you get close to the handle.

            I'm a lazy beggar, but even I'm not that f***ing lazy."

            Never had your hands full of shopping?

            "What, a bit like my non-IoT programmeable thermostat has for the past twenty years?"

            For twenty years you've had a thermostat that knows when the house is empty or that you are returning home? Wow you should've patented it.

            I know it's easy to be a technophobe (in some circles it even cause some smirks at how out of date with the youth you are and how it is impossible to even program the video recorder nowadays) but all this is optional, the same as a TV remote control, or a dishwasher, or a timer on an oven, a car pressure washer etc However for someone who wants it there are many possibilities available.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Making things simple....not

              "Never had your hands full of shopping?"

              You posit a techno-world where the house is so f***ing clever it knows when to operate the powered toilet roll dispenser, and yet you'll still be struggling back to the door (from the beige Honda) with both hands being slowly cut in half by Asda carrier bags? You've not really thought the full scenario through have you?

              Everything that has been touted for TIoT may well be a boon for the disabled, but otherwise of interest only to the terminally lazy and to a few technophiles.

              1. jonathanb Silver badge

                Re: Making things simple....not

                Yes, of course. The internet enabled fridge will automatically order in new supplies, it will always get the order right, and the Ocado driver will know exactly when you are in to receive delivery of it.

            2. Ole Juul

              Re: Making things simple....not

              Never had your hands full of shopping?

              Get rid of those stupid door knobs and use proper handles. You can have both arms full and just use your elbow as you walk in the door. I know, it's old fashioned and doesn't use batteries.

              Anyway, as someone said higher up in this thread, it is possible to ignore the ridiculous claims of advertisers and promoters and only use IoT where it makes sense to you. However when you include all the trouble one has to go to, IoT is mostly more trouble than it's worth. For example, I solved the problem of needing a TV remote to avoid getting off the couch for every commercial by getting rid of the TV.

          2. Long John Brass

            Re: Making things simple....not

            > My God! You see that as "progress"? If electronic equipment tracks me, hounds me, and nags me to do things, what will my wife find to do with her time?

            The postman?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Making things simple....not

            "And technology won't find a home for the kids toys, junk, gardening equipment, tools and other 5hite that stop the car going in [...]"

            When buying my first house I found that even if I could get the car in and close the garage door - then I couldn't open the car door far enough to get out. Finally found a house that had sufficient garage room. Two weeks later the overgrown lawn mandated buying a petrol lawn mower - which was then stored in the garage. The car was parked on the drive for the next 10 years.

        3. GrumpyOldMan

          Re: Making things simple

          So we're basically turning into blobby couch potatoes, to lazy to simply turn the light on, open or close the curtains, work out our own shopping list by (shock!) opening the fridge and looking inside instead of having a health-freak fridge make up it's mind what I should and should not eat or drink: "No no Mr Blobby - you've had 3 beers tonight, I'm not going to open for you to have another one." I don't trust the security on these things either. Nothing wrong with my hands, feet, legs, brain. I can manage thanks.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Meh

            Re: Making things simple

            Wall-E

        4. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Making things simple

          That would be great when it works, and incredibly annoying when it doesn't. You have to remember to tell it that tomorrow you are not going to work in your car - you are on holiday, going on a business trip via another mode of transport etc.

      4. Suricou Raven

        Re: Making things simple

        The connected fridge in theory could warn you about expiration dates and provide a list of items you purchase before you go shopping. That might be useful - I forgot to buy horseradish at the weekend, a connected fridge would have prevented that. But for it to work requires not only a connected fridge, but connected food as well - and as there is no chance of getting people to scan a QR code on everything taken in or out, that means RFID tags. For which no consumer standard exists by which the fridge could go from a tag ID to 'Milk, semi-skimmed, expires tuesday.'

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Making things simple

      I'm sure it's not the neighbour's kid you'll need to worry about.

      Imagine the fun the government could have. Even now, some policy wonk is rubbing their hands with glee at the thought that they'll be able to ensure people who have a curfew aren't too cosy at home, by having the probation service remotely turn off their heating.

    3. Ole Juul

      Re: Making things simple

      I'm using wood heat in a large historical building and I think that's still fairly secure. However, your neighbor's kid is welcome to have a go at hacking my wood pile.

      1. BlartVersenwaldIII
        Happy

        Re: Making things simple

        However, your neighbor's kid is welcome to have a go at hacking my wood pile.

        Surely the trick is to ask him to hack it when it's still a tree trunk - let him earn a few bob chopping wood for you.

      2. Natalie Gritpants Silver badge

        Re: Making things simple

        Don't get too smug, you will have bugs in there.

      3. John Robson Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Making things simple

        "I'm using wood heat in a large historical building and I think that's still fairly secure. However, your neighbor's kid is welcome to have a go at hacking my wood pile."

        Arson is no joke...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Making things simple

        your neighbor's kid is welcome to have a go at hacking my wood pile.

        What size axe do you recommend for that job?

    4. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Making things simple

      I like manual controls.

      Do you still get out of your chair to push buttons on your TV and DVD players or do you use a remote control?

      IoT - despite the nonsense of internet connected toaster and the like - is all about making things easier for us, allowing things to be remote controlled when that makes sense. IoT success will be far less glamorous than vendors would have us believe in promoting the technology to us.

      Ignore what vendors say it could do and simply consider how it could be useful for you. It will likely make a whole lot more sense then.

      How many wouldn't want a handy "f--k off" button for when cold callers ring the landline and the answer phone kicks in with "about your accident/PPI claim"? Perhaps an IoT call ID unit which could email Ofcom the number of cold callers, deluge them in complaints until they do something about them? All at the push of a button.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Making things simple

        Do you still get out of your chair to push buttons on your TV and DVD players or do you use a remote control?

        When entering a darkened room do you reach for the light switch or a phone?

        1. The Sod Particle

          Re: Making things simple

          Neither, I'd hope the IoT heat sensors and or door switches would see I was entering the room, know that it was dark, and turn on the IoT lights for me. Those same sensors would obviously also be talking to my alarm, heating, media and telecommunications servers.

          1. JP19

            Re: Making things simple

            " IoT heat sensors and or door switches would see I was entering the room, know that it was dark, and turn on the IoT lights for me"

            Why the hell do you think the connection between a switch on a room door and a light on its ceiling needs to go through a data centre in Iceland?

        2. blapping

          Re: Making things simple

          with this you'd never walk into a dark room again. The light would be on automatically by the presence of your phone.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Making things simple

        How many wouldn't want a handy "f--k off" button for when cold callers ring the landline and the answer phone kicks in with "about your accident/PPI claim"?

        Cold caller blocker

        's a bit expensive but I have one and it's eliminated 99.9% of cold calls while allowing calls from known numbers (or people who know the bypass code) to go straight through. The 0.1% was one pillock who having heard my recorded message saying "We are screening all incoming calls and don't want to talk to cold callers" decided to leave a message whittering on about whatever crap he was trying to shovel.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Making things simple

          "'s a bit expensive but I have one and it's eliminated 99.9% of cold calls while allowing calls from known numbers [...]"

          My local council offices and my doctors' surgery both show as "Withheld". I once was ratty with an "International" - only to find it was an old friend.

          Many of the UK "withheld" cold callers now poll using a recorded message which cannot distinguish an answerphone from a real person. It relies on a human to press a digit to signify your interest in their spiel. That either connects you to their call centre - or tells you someone will ring you back.

          The latter's callback is always a British accent - but still with "withheld". They then blithely argue that they are allowed to ignore OFCOM's proscriptions on recorded polling messages, withheld numbers, and TPS numbers. If you try to elicit their company name they ring off immediately.

          1. A J Stiles

            Re: Making things simple

            Many of the UK "withheld" cold callers now poll using a recorded message which cannot distinguish an answerphone from a real person. It relies on a human to press a digit to signify your interest in their spiel. That either connects you to their call centre - or tells you someone will ring you back.

            The latter's callback is always a British accent - but still with "withheld". They then blithely argue that they are allowed to ignore OFCOM's proscriptions on recorded polling messages, withheld numbers, and TPS numbers. If you try to elicit their company name they ring off immediately.

            Then you need to block withheld numbers. Either with a well-configured Asterisk -- use ZapATeller() to trigger their answering machine detection, and maybe play them some Kevin Bloody Wilson -- or by paying your telco for the privilege.

            There is absolutely no excuse for anybody to call from a withheld number. Ever. If somebody knows my number, then I have a right to know theirs. It really is that simple.

      3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Making things simple

        "Do you still get out of your chair to push buttons on your TV and DVD players"

        Yes! Mostly when I can't find the bloody remote!

        There will always be a need for direct, manual control.

      4. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Making things simple

        A TV remote requires less effort than getting up to press buttons on the device, that's why people use them.

        How long does it take to pick up your phone, turn the screen on, enter the passcode, scroll to the correct app, load the app, then tap the correct buttons on it, to switch the lights on and off? The only place where there is a convincing use case for remote controlled lights is the bedroom, so you can operate them from bed, and not walk across the room in the dark. I have a bedside light, which means, walk to the bed to switch it on, walk back to the door to switch the main light off, then walk back to the bed, get in and turn the bedside light off. But there, a simple remote that you can point at the doorside switch would work better, or even, if I could be bothered to do the wiring, a simple pair of two way switches like I have in the hallway.

  3. Jason Bloomberg

    Lack of protocols

    It's not surprising there's such a lack of adherence to common protocols when those protocols didn't exist and manufacturers had to go their own way or not release a product at all. I expect every manufacturer used protocols they thought were best and hoped theirs would become dominant or the de facto standard. Every other manufacturer thought they could do better and 'market forces' were left to sort things out. End result; the mess of incompatibility we have.

    It's not a new story and I suspect all emerging technology goes through the same process unless there's an agreed spec up-front. In situations where necessity of product precedes agreed specification it's always going to be somewhat messy.

    Now we have a wider penetration of IoT-style devices it is easier to see what is and may be needed and what protocols should cater for and hopefully that will become an agreed industry-wide specification which everyone follows from now on and everyone benefits from. That doesn't mean everything is solved just yet but we are on the way.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    I wonder what Edison would think of this?

    {sitting in a Hotel Room just a few miles from where he was born (Milton, Ohio)}...

    Personally, I'm in the 'do i need this? Nah!' camp.

    TioT could easily become 'TiT' when it all goes 'titsup' as it surely will. The hackers will have a field day switching on all your gadgets/lights/etc from the other side ot the planet and watching it all via the hacked Governement CCTV Camera System that will be a see every house in the land. Yeah, I did read SF when younger, now where is Eurasia again?

  5. UncleJam

    Lack of protocols is not the problem, Vendor Tie-in is.

    There have been protocols for years. Unfortunately every brand has wanted to tie customers into their own ecosystem and products. As an example just think how long UPnP/DLNA has been around? It's only now that many are switching to Smart TVs that the technology is coming to foreground but most brands have a different take on it and call it something different causing confusion to consumers. HDMI-CEC is another technology that comes to mind where implementations can be called something else and sometimes with restricted feature sets (think Anynet+, Aquous Link, Bravia Link, Kuro-Link, RIHD, SimpLink, Viera Link, EasyLink, etc. They're all supposed to be the same thing). I work for a company. We have a product called Dianemo (this is not a plug so no links) with which we aim to have 1 interface to control the lot. We already talk to devices that use current 'standards' as well as those that have their own protocols, and in the future It won't matter if the device is using Apple's Homekit, or using Alljoyn, or whatever the IEEE come up with for IoT we will aim to add the functionality to Dianemo. Our aim has always been to bring Home Automation to the aware. Making people aware of our product has been, and still is, the biggest problem.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Lack of protocols is not the problem, Vendor Tie-in is.

      DLNA is a joke because the various companies behind it were more focused on getting their own patented technology included than on making a product that actually works.

  6. jake Silver badge

    I've been using X10 since ... what, 1986?

    Seems to work just fine :-)

    As always, YMMV.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest problem with any kind of technology is obsolescence.

    My house has 80 year old imperial-sized roof tiles, they've been obsolete and out of production for 50 years. When one breaks it's a problem. The old tiles are incompatible with modern tiles and I don't want to have to replace the whole roof with modern tiles. I have to hunt around reclamation yards for compatible replacements.

    Building computer technology into a house will exacerbate the obsolescence problem because of the rate of development. Computer technology has a short life cycle and changes every 3 to 5 years rather than every 30 to 50 years. Every time something breaks in the house, the replacement will be incompatible with everything else in the house. The existing IoT2 devices that you bought a few years ago will not work with the new IoT9 devices on sale now. So you'll have to hunt around for old devices, or upgrade all your existing devices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The biggest problem with any kind of technology is obsolescence."

      The power shower pump failed. Not only does that model no longer exist but the replacement isn't a "drop in" fit.

      Just about everything I buy now - that proves itself useful or comfortable - will get a few spares added for the future.

      My summer shorts are Fred Perry 1970s - for which the fashion has not yet resurfaced. To my amazement eBay recently produced several pairs in almost pristine condition. Thank $deity for whoever hoarded some spares in their wardrobe for nearly 50 years. However - wearing them until they will wear out feels a bit like eating the last Dodo

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Unhappy

        The power shower pump failed. Not only does that model no longer exist but the replacement isn't a "drop in" fit.

        Yup, had that problem several years ago. I was lucky though I managed to find a 'new old stock' later version that with a bit of cutting, drilling and finagling could be persuaded to go where the failed unit was.

        And shoes can be a pain. Why do Nike have to keep releasing a new version of their 'Dart' series? The more recent versions don't have the arch support I like and seem to feature a raised heel and toe that wasn't there before.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad
      Terminator

      Mk.2

      "The existing IoT2 devices that you bought a few years ago will not work with the new IoT9 devices on sale now"

      Until the day when your Mk.2 devices are the only things that work.

  8. Otto is a bear.

    Built in Obsolescence

    It's what makes the economy go round, and as consumers, we love it, why else would we pony up £600 every couple of years for a new phone, slab, laptop. Stop your complaining, now, just think, that's probably £600 for a new set of light bulbs to replace those old LED bulb that are supposed to last for 40 years, they just aren't the right colour any more anyway.

    I suspect we have another few years of this sort of nonsense before it all sorts itself out into a set of sensible standards. I'm going to wait before I buy intelligent iDevices and stick to the Mk 1 finger for a while yet.

  9. Blacklight

    If you're willing to dabble....

    OpenRemote (www.openremote.org) - it's a free (for home use) server you can clap on a box at home (if you don't mind a JVM) with Android and iPhone clients, which lets you talk to anything that has an IP.

    My *nix based installation serves custom screens and talks to Philips Hue, LightwaveRF, Globalcache iTach (IP2IR), and an IP enabled A/V receiver. Others have much more! Now both mine and my wife's phones (and our tablet) can act as unified remotes. My server also has a VPN so (if needs be) I can run things remotely/securely (OpenSSL/BASH vulns aside!)

    Personally, having found Hue to be the easiest to work with, I'd love everything to speak JSON and use REST APIs - but as long as it has an API, I can wrap it in :)

  10. Tom 38 Silver badge

    With UPnP+, devices communicate using XMPP – originally the foundation of Jabber – and can be managed by effectively joining them to a chat room, which would typically represent a room in your home.

    Seriously? The best protocol they could come up with is that IoT are IRC bots, and their chosen implementation of IRC involves using XML?

  11. Andrew Jones 2

    Home Automation is easier and cheaper than people think.

    Why on earth would anyone choose to use XMPP?

    MQTT exists for a very good reason - XMPP has so much overhead!

    It's not rocket science people, I have an Ubuntu Server running Domoticz which is free open source and constantly upgraded. I have those DIY remote sockets you speak of -and I discovered RFXCOM who make a lovely USB transmitter/receiver specifically for talking to home automation kit on the 433MHz band - which Domoticz supports wonderfully. OpenZWave is also supported by Domoticz and I currently have 2 devices which are ZWave. Domoticz will run happily on a Raspberry Pi so you don't need a full blown computer running.

    I have a second machine (a laptop) running in a different building (but attached to the same physical LAN) which is using th Teldus Tellstick which again speaks 433MHz - unfortunately Domoticz doesn't support the Tellstick hardware, but it has a lovely commandline utility called tdtool. So I use MQTT to send commands across the network to the laptop which a python script intercepts and sends commands to tdtool.

    Home Automation is cheap these days to get started, the kit is not terribly expensive and you can start at the low tech end of the scale and upgrade to the higher end stuff as you feel comfortable / time allows.

    As a bonus - Domoticz supports my OWL Electricity monitor so I get lovely graphs and comparisons to previous months / years. For the Theatre (the other building) I'm using a 3 phase Current Cost Envi-128 that I poll every 30 seconds using a Python script and then update the values in Domoticz using a JSON web request.

    If anyone is at all interested - take a look at www.domoticz.com

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I look at IoT like I looked at NFC

    It is a solution looking for a problem. Eventually a problem might come along that is made easier to implement using this solution, but until then it is just a geek toy.

    A good example of this for NFC is "merchants keep getting hacked and losing CC details". To which the solution is EMV, which uses a one time token to pay the merchant so a hacked merchant doesn't result in a bunch of hassle and/or fraudulent charges. One time tokens were tried years ago, using applications/web sites that would do the one time code generation to help secure online shopping (which at the time was felt to be less secure than in-person shopping) but due to the hassle involved it was a niche solution that was used by few.

    Making it work for in-person purchases can be done using NFC instead of mag stripes to pass the details - either using a phone like Apple Pay or using a NFC enabled credit card. When all NFC payments consisted of was "tap to pay instead of swipe to pay" it was stupid and pointless, basically "look at how cool I am, I can pay with my phone!" When it can use EMV so you gain security (and some degree of anonymity) in the bargain it now has a real purpose.

    It remains to be seen what the purpose is for IoT, if indeed anything is ever found. Like NFC, it is attractive to the sort of geek who likes technology for technology's sake. But the improvement in one's life is marginal at best, and certainly not worth the hassle of implementation and troubleshooting except for such geeks, to be able to turn lights on and off from any room, turn on the dishwasher while you're at work, or the wet dream of having a fridge that orders milk when you're out of it.

    The smart fridge idea has always made me laugh the hardest. This smart fridge will have to be smart indeed, as it needs cameras inside that can see and identify items and when they run out. Good luck with that, we've been struggling with machine vision for decades now! Either that, or everyone has to pay for the technological masturbation of a few by including RFID tags on every single item we buy so the fridge knows when things are added/removed, what the expiration date is, etc. Though it still won't be able to tell how full the gallon jug of milk is, only that it must be empty when you take it out but don't replace it!

    RFID tags on every item could theoretically make checkers redundant in grocery stores, so maybe that will happen anyway, but until that happens I sure as hell don't want to pay more for my groceries just to make your smart fridge work!

  13. chris lively

    Disparate home automation systems talking to each other? Lol

    I'd be happy if my samsung tv remote could control my samsung DVD player. Or if the DVD player remote could control the tv. Or if my samsung tv remote could control the volume on the samsung speaker. Three products from the same company, all bought at the same time and none of them work well together. Heck just playing DVDs often results in sound that is completely out of sync with the video whose only resolution is to unplug everything and hope it works on the next try. My wife has asked multiple times if we could just bring the old crap back: at least it generall worked well.

    So dealing with home automation incompatibilities? No thank you. Let's stick with just gettin the simple crap working together. I swear I'd buy a tv and DVD player made by apple even at their high prices just because I'd know it would work right.

    Which leads me to this: let's stop using the word "standard". None of those things mentioned are real standards. They are specifications. Of which various companies pick and choose which ones to use and what parts to implement. A standard would be something like the nozzle used to out gas in your car. Pick a gas station they're all the same because it's standardized.

  14. BongoJoe

    I can imagine going to replace a light bulb... And then find I need Administrator Rights.

    It's not uncommon here after a power cut (thank you, Tom Jones -- no not that one) for my wifi to bork and various devices forget what they are connected to and even access points do something silly and it can take a while for me to get the network up and running right. Especially with words of encouragement from the wife who can't get onto Pinterest.

    Imagine then all the thermostats, light bulbs, door catches, cat flaps, car engine starters, car engine stoppers and fridges all losing the House Cloud.

  15. Long John Brass

    Halloween Fun

    Imagine being able to detect when the neighbour is facing the TV and slowly opening & closing the curtains, fridge door, cat flap etc .... Drive them mad/scare em shitless; fun for Halloween, not so much the rest of the year.

    Security is going to be the issue when they finally get all this crap to talk amongst themselves.

    I'd love to be able to get home & say "house lights on", but when the phone can't even get "ok google" right 50% of the time, I don't hold out much hope

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Halloween Fun

      "[...] but when the phone can't even get "ok google" right 50% of the time,"

      When Google is running the Academy schools then there will be a mandatory subject to teach the correct enunciation for voice commands.

  16. Darren Forster

    My dad found out recently that even some TV's and DVD recorders need to be bought at the same time.

    He recently bought a brand new Panasonic TV, and his old TV the remote would also control the Panasonic DVD/HDD recorder, but for some strange reason Panasonic have re-designed their remotes on new TV's and the new TV will not control the old Panasonic DVD/HDD recorder. It's got the controls there on the remote, but they don't do anything.

    My dad who is an ex-TV engineer was really surprised at this 'cos Panasonic is one of the better makes and they have been using the same infra-red codes for many years, so why suddenly change it now???

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