back to article Brits don't want their homes to be 'tech-tastic'

A new survey by PwC shows that British homeowners are more concerned with practical applications and financial advantages rather than the need to be “tech-tastic” when it comes to smart technology at home. The majority of participants (72 per cent) were uninterested in making their homes smarter, and were not looking to buy …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skewed results

    " however, 95 per cent have noticed its "benefits". A further 81 per cent said they had a "positive experience" with smart heating. "

    That's because they are the sort of people that have actively gone out to fill a specific need.

    As for the ones that didn't have a positive experience, just follow internetofshit current fun ones are the person that couldn't turn their lights on and another that was locked out of his house due to his router being down.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Skewed results

      >the person that couldn't turn their lights on and another that was locked out of his house due to his router being down.

      Exactly. If you ask people if they want 'technology', they will be dubious because 'technology' never seems to just work as it should. A bog standard IR controller isn't 'technology' because it will go at least a year without needing a battery change*. When something just works as it should, it is no longer 'technology' because it is now just 'stuff'.

      If the survey was re-written without using the words 'smart', 'connected' or 'technology', and instead asked questions such as "Would you like to have a magic floor that never needs cleaning?" I daresay people would say "Yes!" (or "Yes, but what's the catch?" because we all remember the Sorcerer's Apprentice).

      *People see a IR-controlled ceiling light as being pretty easy to understand - their long experience of using televisions has trained them. However, my brother-in-law bought an expensive example, and it is unusable because it erroneously responds to signals from a Samsung television controller. WTF? I've seen all manner of heterogeneous home entertainment set-ups, and I've never seen a Sony VCR upset a Panasonic television, or an LG DVD player annoy a Yamaha amplifier. Yet this young IR-controlled lighting company make that product that doesn't play nice with a very common brand of TV. Idiots.

      Right o', I'm off to to construct a system of strings and pulleys to control my light switches, window blinds and thermostat from my sofa. I got the idea from some nice chap called Professor Branestawm. I'll try my best to not garrote the cat.

      1. BenM 29

        Re: Skewed results

        Well said sirrah. When a "labour saving" gizmo is as reliable as a light switch then I will consider installing it

      2. Chris Miller
        Trollface

        Re: Skewed results

        If you can build a system to garrotte next door's cat, I'd buy that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Skewed results

          why garotting the poor animal, when you could simply mine your garden?

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Skewed results

          >If you can build a system to garrotte next door's cat, I'd buy that.

          I feel that I'd be ripping you off, since the BOM would be a looped guitar string and a portion of mackerel. However, a cat deterrent is very do-able - see link below. I'd replace the BB-gun with a water pistol containing lemon juice. As a bonus, it can be configured to upload video of the surprised feline to a server of your choice.

          http://hackaday.com/2015/10/03/raspberry-pi-sentry-turret-is-the-enemy-of-all-mankind/

          On the subject of RFID-controlled entry to a house, some cat flaps have been sold for decades with a tag (a simple magnet I belive, not RFID) for your cat's collar, so that precious Snuggles can come in but nectdoors flea-bitten mangy moggy can't.

          1. Fixing IT

            Re: Skewed results

            > On the subject of RFID-controlled entry to a house, some cat flaps have been sold for decades with a tag (a simple magnet I belive, not RFID) for your cat's collar, so that precious Snuggles can come in but nectdoors flea-bitten mangy moggy can't.

            You can get cat flaps which read the cat's microchip, via RFID. My neighbour bought the same cat flap after seeing ours, each flap only lets in the moggie its been programmed for. Our cat initially took a few goes to learn to wait for the "click" (its about 2 seconds after RFID has been read, I think)

            They are brilliant, if a little more expensive than the traditional collar-tag ones. Cat can lose collars especially if you use the snap-off ones (much safer for cat if it gets caught up somewhere), so something which reads the cat's microchip works well. 4x AA batteries last about a year, and if you're quick enough replacing them you don't need to shove the cat through again to reprogram it :-)

            Of course it requires the feline in question to be chipped, but IMHO it should be anyway.

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Skewed results

        Back at school in the 1970s/80s my girlfriend actually did have a length of string tied to the lightswitch to control the light.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Skewed results

          I still have a length of string attached to my light switch. so does anyone in the UK with a light switch in the bathroom :-D

          Ill get my coat, mine is the full length rain coat with a rubber ducky in the pocket

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Skewed results

        Worked with a DVD compatibility lab for a while, and it was certainly not unusual to press a button on one remote and have several players react differently.

        The main brands seem to loosely avoid one another, but not without exception, the cheap stuff was a crapshoot as to what it would do when any other remote was waved around.

    2. Haku

      Re: internetofshit

      Favourite one so far:

      "lol my bank just called me

      because you can give your accounts nicknames to remember which savings acct is which

      and I put an emoji in one of them

      and apparently somehow broke their entire banking system

      so I guess... don't do that"

  2. Ye Gads

    Show me the money

    I agree entirely.

    I have 2 pieces of home automation: a smart themostat that turns off the heating when I'm not at home and a robot lawn mower (I kid you not).

    the smart thermostat has reduced my heating by 1/3 and the lawnmower keeps the grass cut without me ever having to mow or rake the grass. I hate mowing the lawn.

    Both pass the "wife-friendly" test, which is probably the best way of deciding if it's just a new piece of shiny or if it actually has some practical value.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Show me the money

      If those robot mowers weren't a grand, I'd buy one. I can't believe they're so expensive.

      1. Greebo

        Re: Show me the money

        I haven't needed to mow our lawn for about 2 years. Our lawnmowers constantly keep it short and tidy.

        They're not particularly smart, and can't be connected to the internet, but that's rabbits for you.

        1. Artaxerxes

          Re: Show me the money

          Using the wrong kind of rabbit clearly.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Show me the money

          They're only a problem if they go Rampant.

        3. montyburns56

          Re: Show me the money

          Do you control with an app on your Rabbit phone?

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Show me the money

      Thermostats to turn on/off your heating have been around for decades, probably centuries if you include non-electrical ones such as Watt's flying balls.

      1. A Nother Handle
        Paris Hilton

        I'm sorry but I have to ask

        Watt's flying balls?

  3. My-Handle Silver badge

    LIfecycles of tech

    The main problem I see is that the life cycle of technology is pretty short. The phone that your app runs on may well only be a couple of years old before it gets replaced. Will your new phone run the app that controls your lights? What about the one for your heating? Same for fridge / oven / locks / whatever.

    The systems and white goods in your house are designed to last years or decades. Can you rely on manufacturers to continue updating their software to allow uninterrupted control of all of your Things?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: LIfecycles of tech

      Can you rely on manufacturers to continue updating their software to allow uninterrupted control of all of your Things?

      Whose uninterrupted control of all your Things?

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        Re: LIfecycles of tech

        I thought about including comments about security (or lack thereof) in my original post... but I wanted to keep the length down to something that would fit on a normal monitor :) Obviously my subconscious decided it wanted a say in the matter.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: LIfecycles of tech

          >The main problem I see is that the life cycle of technology is pretty short. The phone that your app runs on may well only be a couple of years old before it gets replaced.

          Very true. May I propose we use MIDI or DMX? Both standards have been around for 30 years and are in regular use today. The only downside is that for simple applications, there isn't much need for chips from Intel, haha. (I'm being half tongue-in-cheek)

          (On a tangential note, I saw a band play in local pub the other day, and the mixing desk was an iPad app (all iPhones and iPads have always had wireless MIDI baked in). The advantage was clear - the band could be mixed from within the audience so that they got the optimum sound. )

  4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    FAIL

    The usual arrogance of tech companies

    many still don’t really understand the range of smart energy products on offer and the potential they have to ease their busy lives in a practical way

    In other words, if you don't want something they have invented it can only be because you don't understand how fantastic it is. If only you'd pay attention to them you would see the light, and be converted. Hallelujah!

    They never learn.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The usual arrogance of tech companies

      People will be converted eventually, but through seeing, not listening. Most people don't read tech blogs, or become first-adopters of new technology. Instead, they see something at a friend's huse and, if it works as it should, consider getting one if they can see the point of it.

      Case in point: Even my dad now has a connected music system of sorts. (Spotify on his phone and laptop, a Chromecast Audio dongle on his amplifier. He'd seen his son-in-law's iPad/Sonos set-up and thought it useful).

      Of course the 'analogue' way of doing multi-room audio is just to have one amp, two speakers, and the volume turned up to 11 - you can now hear the music in every room! :)

      1. riparian zone

        Re: The usual arrogance of tech companies

        guess its a good case for this: http://www.pretotyping.org/

  5. RobertD
    Big Brother

    IoT

    The internet of things terrifies me, and not just because of Skynet. As always, developers are being asked to rush things out there and security doesn't even get invited in for the ride, never mind take a back seat. Nest? Looks very nice, owned by Google. Hive looks promising but needs its own router and their privacy policy states:

    "We can use any of our information to contact you. We can contact you by post, email, phone, text message or any other kind of electronic communication (such as through your smart meter if you have one). We can also visit you."

    Sounds more like a threat to me.

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: IoT

      "developers are being asked to rush things out there and security doesn't even get invited in for the ride, never mind take a back seat."

      If I can access something from the internet, then potentially so can billions of other people. Nothing can ever be completely secured from a determined hacker. This is the reason why I will never have a connected home or a connected car.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IoT

        the only way i will run "smart" devices in the home will be on a dedicated Vlan (preferably hard wired) with no direct internet connection. running everything to a local gateway with local code, monitoring, reporting, etc. and it will be on a large UPS and all devices must have a manual redundant backup so they work in a dumb mode if the brains die. ie key for door and basic thermostat control for heating.

        the only external access will be via authenticated access over a VPN to another machine in a different Vlan in the house and then authenticated access locked to User, IP address, MAC, etc etc to the gateway.

    2. Chuunen Baka

      Re: IoT

      Nest bought Revolv and bricked their existing customer base and sod the lifetime guarantee. No way am I going to depend on external software to run my home.

    3. VinceH

      Re: IoT

      "Hive looks promising but needs its own router and their privacy policy states:"

      That's horrendous.

      Do they also say anything about the horizontal and the vertical?

      1. Diodelogic

        Re: IoT

        Upvote for the "Outer Limits" reference.

        1. RobertD
          Alert

          Re: IoT

          Spookily enough, watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones last night on Sky Now TV or whatever, the picture went from blurred to crystal clear and back again more than once...

  6. AMBxx Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It's the money

    My Fritz!Box has just been updated to allow me to do clever stuff with my radiators. Then I looked at the price - £55 per radiator. Even if I only control 6 radiators, £330 buys a lot of heating oil.

  7. DropBear

    *looks at the date* June, 2016? Yep, IoT is still a solution desperately looking for a problem...

    1. David_H
      Thumb Down

      Slow burner

      The small company I was with in the early 90's developed a smart house. We couldn't sell the ideas to anyone. I don't see the modern stuff being much better, just better advertised. (OK, we had to use SMS for wireless access and this and other 'enabler technologies' have moved on, but not the general control systems.)

      I don't trust the security of any of the modern IOT/smart devices, so I've refused a free smart meter for my electricity!

  8. m0rt

    If a multi-billion company can't produce safe mainstream code

    MS and Apple, for a start, then how on earth will all these smaller companies produce the same? Or rather, be incentivised to do the same?

    We have phones that consistently under threat from malware due to poor implementation of code, OS holes for the sake of convenience, so why will home automation be any better? And support? If I buy a fridge I want it to last 10 years minimum. If I buy a cooker, same. I don't want to be having to change white goods often. As for my heating...jeez. Wouldn't a basic education about frugality taught in school make more sense, than having to rely on an app?

    All this talk about innovation, recently, or lack of it. Mainly because all people want to do is seemingly replace common sense in people with stuff that doesn't really do much.

    'We Can [Think Of] It For You Wholesale.'

    1. computinghomer

      Re: If a multi-billion company can't produce safe mainstream code

      Your making sense, we'll have none of that interfering with our good work as marketers of dreams.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: If a multi-billion company can't produce safe mainstream code

        >If a multi-billion company can't produce safe mainstream code... ...then how on earth will all these smaller companies produce the same?

        The easiest way is to keep things simple. A house could be run on a very simple addressable protocol like DMX, with sensors ( switches, dials, thermostats) and actuators (lights, radiators). Not a lot of coding required, so very little attack surface. And hell, physical access would be required.

        Making things wireless introduces a load of security headaches, but a wired solution would be trivial during a new-build or redecoration.

        If then someone absolutely must bridge from this network to the wider world, then at least the required gateway would be fairly simple, and thus less difficult to audit.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: If a multi-billion company can't produce safe mainstream code

      As for my heating...jeez. Wouldn't a basic education about frugality taught in school make more sense, than having to rely on an app?

      Part of the problem of heating is systems is that the (hardware) interfaces are appalling. Really appalling. I know it's a balance of cost vs usability but ramming an entire two-part (heating vs water) scheduling function into as few physical buttons as possible never works.

      The next part of the problem is almost certainly compounded by the appalling interface, but a huge number of (supposedly bright) people just don't understand and seemingly don't want to even try to understand how a heating timer and a thermostat work. These people tend to turn the heating OFF in summer or when they're warm, or turn the thermostat to maximum when they're cold. In general, no amount of patient explaining gets through to these people and they will continue merrily being stupid because that's how they've always ran their heating and it "works" for them. Just accepting that the "on" periods only dictate when the heating could come on but this will depend on the thermostat setting and the temperature is beyond them.

      In this instance, a sensible way to schedule a heating system along with being able to control temperature freely rather than a fixed target (minimum) temperature is a good thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If a multi-billion company can't produce safe mainstream code

        >the problem is almost certainly compounded by the appalling interface, but a huge number of (supposedly bright) people just don't understand and seemingly don't want to even try to understand how a heating timer and a thermostat work

        Yeah, I used to live with a mechanical engineer too! Eventually, myself and another housemate, a physicist, set the thermostat and timer correctly, and placed duck tape over the panel.

        The same mech eng would also dangle wooded spoons from the upper rack in the dishwasher, seemingly unaware that the spinney grey rotor thing below was designed to, er, spin.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Research shows that they could be convinced if there were financial incentives such as reduced energy bills or free installation of smart energy meters or lights."

    And if informed of the disadvantages - lack of security, dependence on vendor maintaining servers, etc - they'd probably be convinced otherwise.

    1. not.known@this.address Silver badge

      It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

      "And if informed of the disadvantages - lack of security, dependence on vendor maintaining servers, etc - they'd probably be convinced otherwise."

      No, they'd probably turn around and tell you to stop being paranoid or a luddite. The problem is not just that these issues exist, but that so few people realise they are serious issues rather than just something that someone (ie you, me, and most people who still care) moans about.

      I have no problem with new tech that helps me but when it is - intentionally or unintentionally - designed and built in such a way that it needs to be replaced, reloaded, updated or whatever more frequently than an "inferior" low-tech equivalent whilst not giving me additional USEFUL functionality then I have to question why "they" think I need to replace something that is doing what *I* need it to do...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

        "I have to question why "they" think I need to replace something that is doing what *I* need it to do..."

        This reminds me of a product refresh cycle we went though last year. Marketing claimed our product, being re-designed and updated, needed a "brand refresh" by giving it a whole new name and everything. Comments from marketing including things like customers saying things like "oh, do you still sell that?" meaning the brand is "stale". I suggested that if people had forgotten about our product it wasn't because it was stale and needed a shiny new name and logo, it was the fault of marketing for not keeping it prominent in the first place, ie they were resting on their laurels or dealing with "new" stuff. "Old" stuff is not their business. They forget that they are there to "sell" stuff and to keep selling it, not just invent work to justify their stupidly high salaries.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

        >I have no problem with new tech that helps me but when it is - intentionally or unintentionally - designed and built in such a way that it needs to be replaced, reloaded, updated or whatever more frequently than an "inferior" low-tech equivalent whilst not giving me additional USEFUL functionality then I have to question why "they" think I need to replace something that is doing what *I* need it to do...

        The classic example of how not to manage this sort of thing was the drive to CFL light bulbs. What made it really bad was that cheap CFL bulbs are shit - and it was these that were often given away to convince people to switch from incandescent bulbs. People hated having a bulb that took tens of seconds to become bright, especially if they just wanted to illuminate a room for half a minute to fetch something. These days LEDs are very good and though pricier will pay for themselves in months for most applications. However, the adage 'once stung, twice shy' applies, and so many are still unaware that LEDs aren't irritating like CFLs are.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

          "People hated having a bulb that took tens of seconds to become bright"

          I've never come across a CFL that responded so quickly. And why do they take so long, given that the old fluorescents were at full brightness as soon at they started up (unless they were moribund).

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

            Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

            Buy yourself a daylight CFL, they're generally instant on and incredibly bright. The ones I used to buy were Androv Medical, but it looks like there's a whole host of reasonably priced alternatives now.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

              @BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

              Thanks for the tip - I have been told that good CFLs do exist, but sadly they were not the ones encountered by the "You can prise my incandescents out of my cold dead hands! [Bloody Brussels!]" brigade.

              Unless I'm doing colour-sensitive work (in which case I'll do some research first) I'll be using LEDs from now on.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

          "hated having a bulb that took tens of seconds to become bright, especially if they just wanted to illuminate a room for half a minute"

          which is why every room in my old flat except one had CFL bulbs.

          that one room the bathroom as by the time i got in went to the toilet, washed my hands and got out again the light was worse than a candle. so i stuck with a trusty incandescent bulb as it actually did the job required which the new technology didnt.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It is NOT paranoia if they really are tracking you and listening to your conversations...

        "luddite"

        Sigh. Why is it nobody actually seems to be aware of what the Luddites' argument was actually about? And as to explaining to people, just tell them about Revolv.

  10. Pat 11

    Admin

    It's all just more admin init. It'll all keep needing tweaking, fixing, updating. Who can be arsed, it's bad enough keeping computers running, and they constantly want to monitor you. I'd pay a premium for reliable kit that minds its own business.

    1. Aaiieeee

      Re: Admin

      I think people forget to calculate in the mental capacity they have to give to things like this and then wonder why they are tired out or feel like they have no time.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Admin

      I thought IoT was plot by DevOps to re-employ all the sysadmins that would be put of work by their taking over the world.

  11. Dale 3

    Control devices through an app

    unimpressed with the ability to control devices through an app, possibly preferring to stride over and flip the switch themselves

    I don't mind in principle controlling things from my phone, it's just too much of a bother to have to unlock the phone every time I want to turn a light on. Or use one app to turn the lights down, another to start the movie player, and another to adjust the volume on the telly (then have to unlock it again every time the volume needs adjustment).

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Control devices through an app

      Who are these people who switch their lights on and off so much anyway?

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Control devices through an app

      >I don't mind in principle controlling things from my phone, it's just too much of a bother to have to unlock the phone every time I want to turn a light on.

      Options:

      1. Buy a el cheapo phone or tablet to the job, or re-purpose one from your junk drawer.

      2. Many phones have an option to not require unlocking if they are within range of a known Bluetooth device (yes, this is potentially a security hole).

      I'd say option 1 is probably the better one. A dedicated tablet for lights, music, checking EPG for the television, sending video to the TV... indeed, according to surveys reported on by the Reg, many tablet don't leave the house. It wouldn't have to be a fast tablet with a fancy screen, either.

      Heck, my daily-use 4G quad-core phone only cost £45 brand-new... in a couple of years the cost of a dedicated handset is going to be negligible.

      Option 3. Buy a Raspberry Pi, some plywood and assorted knobs and dials, get your soldering iron out, and make a control console to rival a 1950s sci-fi set, Mwaahhhahahaha!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Control devices through an app

        Option 4. Flick the switch, which you'll find just beside the door, as you enter the room. Flick it again as you leave.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Control devices through an app

          >Option 4. Flick the switch, which you'll find just beside the door, as you enter the room. Flick it again as you leave.

          That's a not good option for dimming the lights when already seated (dinner finished, now watching film), or turning on lights after dusk has fallen, or for controlling lights (floor-standing lamps, table lamps) that aren't wired to the wall switch, or for turning off the lights as you fall asleep on the sofa, or for people with mobility problems.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Control devices through an app

            If you fall asleep on the sofa, you probably do not need to turn off the lights. Every other one of those examples basically says you can't be arsed to get up and flick a switch even though you are going to then have it at that settings for several hours, if that's to much effort then you need to occasionally stand up just as a health benefit.

            The only one in your examples that seems to have a point is disabled and mobility problems.

  12. M7S
    Facepalm

    "free installation of smart energy meters"

    Run that one by me again, exactly how is this not being paid for by consumers at some stage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "free installation of smart energy meters"

      I know im paying like everyone else for the Fu*king smart meters i just dont want them for privacy reasons and "When" the grid is hacked or goes down for another reason as long as the physical infrastructure is intact i will still have heat and hopefully power when the rest of the area will be running around like headless chickens in the dark. i can crank up the short wave and listen to it all unfold on the news on the emergency broadcast channel,. ;-)

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: "free installation of smart energy meters"

      Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of people really do believe that something can be "free".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "free installation of smart energy meters"

        Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of people really do believe that something can be "free".

        Spot on. have an upvote. I wish it could be more.

        In the States, they're all voting for Bernie Sanders. Not a small number of those "freetards" either. Then again, from the IT side, there's a lot pirates and those who expect everything on the 'Net to be free. So yes... a vast majority if we look at the totals.

  13. Psymon

    Very little to tempt

    That's entirely unsurprising. I mean, I'm one of the geekiest tech-heads I know, and even I have very little interest in a lot of the gadgets out there. So far, the Internet Of Things hasn't come up with anything truly compelling, and if they can't sell an idea to a guy who runs a 5TB file server in his own house, it's got to make you wonder.

    An internet connected kettle? Really? The internet connected fridge might be useful if you could quickly check how much mayonnaise was left while you were at the shops, but the technology just isn't there yet. I've seen some demos, and the faff of scanning items in and out of the fridge seems to be more work than simply picking up the items you forgot from the corner shop.

    The fridge that automatically orders online also seems rife with problems. Ordering online from who? One of the big supermarkets will pay big bucks to get preferential treatment. What if I only bought that item because it was on offer, or tried it and don't like it? Do I want it blindly re-ordering? Isn't my consumer choice one of the few freedoms remaining, so should I trust that freedom to a robot?

    It's all very well wiring up appliances so they can be switched on and off by remote, but we've had that technology for decades, and the reason it hasn't caught on, is because you STILL need to physically walk up to the device to put something in it, like water in the kettle, bread in the toaster, clothes in the washing machine, etc. The only one that does make sense with is the cooker, but almost every model sold today comes with some sort of delay timer built in already.

    The most attractive element is smart heating. That I can understand the benefits of quite easily, as I'm sure most people can, but it's not cheap to install. Especially if you want to maximise efficiency, which includes independent radiator control and automated windows. Depending on your usage, that install cost could take a long time to recoup.

    The roomba-type vacuums seem the closest to a proper product, but they strike me a under-powered, and unless you live in an obsessively tidy house, the damn thing will spend most of it's life stuck in a corner.

    Then there's the smart home products like Nest. A collection of cameras, motion sensors, light switches, and sockets that all use ethernet over mains to simplify the install.

    Tempting from a security standpoint, until you discover that these devices are riddled with security vulnerabilities themselves. Ironically, making your house easier to hack into.

    1. Paul 25

      Re: Very little to tempt

      I think you're bang on about much of the tech just not being anywhere near good enough to be truly useful. I'd get a robot vacuum cleaner as soon as the damn thing can get over the various thresholds in our house and can tidy away my toddler's toys. Until then the amount of work that I'd need to do to make it work would wipe out most of the benefit.

      A robot lawn mower would be nice if we had a much, much bigger lawn, but frankly the 30 minutes every few weeks it takes to do ours is not worth a grand plus all the hassle of an automated one.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Very little to tempt

        > The internet connected fridge might be useful if you could quickly check how much mayonnaise was left while you were at the shops, but the technology just isn't there yet.

        Just have a webcam inside the fridge. There is even a light inside the fridge, and I have never seen any evidence that the light turns off when the door is closed! :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very little to tempt

      re. Do I want it blindly re-ordering?

      THEY want you to blindly re-order, that's for sure! The solutions offered have (next to) nil benefit and HUGE amount of grief to the customers / consumers. But think gadget manufacturers and retailers, I bet they're salivating...

  14. Paul 25

    Unsurprised

    No. Shit. Sherlock.

    Most IoT things are solutions looking for a problem, and most seem to make life more not less convenient.

    I mean, where's the inconvenience of turning on a light, or using a small piece of metal to open your front door? Perhaps if your house is absolutely massive or you regularly forget to lock your door when leaving the house?

    I have a Hive, which is great, but only because it's the first thermostat I've had that I can re-program without having to get the damn manual out every time, and being able to put it in holiday mode remotely after forgetting to do it before you leave. Other than that it pretty much just works as a thermostat, it doesn't try to be too clever, which I like.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Unsurprised

      >where's the inconvenience of... ...using a small piece of metal to open your front door?

      Ask anybody who has waited in all day for a package to be delivered, and they might say it would be handy to have a door lock that will open once if a parcel's tracking number is typed in by the delivery bod. (Yeah, this isn't the whole solution - you might wish to have security camera trained in your hallway, or maybe you already have a porch so parcels can be left there without granting access to the rest of your house.)

      Another reason is seen on cars - when the key-fob is within range of the vehicle, a foot-switch opens the tailgate. This allows someone with their hands full of shopping to place the bags directly in the car. This is useful, as anyone who has left items on the car roof and driven away can testify.

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Unsurprised

      > I mean, where's the inconvenience of turning on a light, or using a small piece of metal to open your front door?

      These things are inconsequential if you're fit and healthy, but their automation can result in a huge improvement in quality of life to the disabled or elderly.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Unsurprised

        These things are inconsequential if you're fit and healthy, but their automation can result in a huge improvement in quality of life to the disabled or elderly.

        The problem here is those are generally the folks that won't understand the security issues nor be able to properly address them. Ok... I'm wrong... most folks not in IT will have the same problem.

      2. Vic

        Re: Unsurprised

        their automation can result in a huge improvement in quality of life to the disabled or elderly.

        Even if we accept your point - is this the target demographic? Or are they actually being marketed to the young and able?

        Vic.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "how can companies change this lack of knowledge into real know-how?”

    Why can't you IoT peddlers just accept the facts for what they are? This is all just a VC's wet dream. There is too much data slurping and leaky apps as it is... Most don't want to be part of the Silicon-Valley-3.0 'hive mind'..

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "automated cleaning appliances"

    No jokes about the husband, please...

    But until it can move chairs and clean in all the corners, it will be muggins who does all the cleaning and not some Roomba style gadget.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "automated cleaning appliances"

      "But until it can move chairs and clean in all the corners, it will be muggins who does all the cleaning and not some Roomba style gadget."

      Yes, I've often wondered why all of these robot vacuum cleaners are round. They simply cannot get into the corners. They should be square and have corner brushes. Stupid designers! :-)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "automated cleaning appliances"

        >But until it can move chairs...

        Remote control chairs! Now you're talking... what's not to love?! :)

  17. chivo243 Silver badge

    And

    the geeks will rule the earth?

    Sorry, but most of this crap is a solution without a problem. A bad accident looking for a place to happen...

    I have a programmable thermostat, I can tell it to warm the house for 2 hours from 6am to 8am. Then again at 4pm.... not that hard, and it is not connected to anything but the central warming system.

    It would be nice when I turn off a device it is off, not on some sort of standby eating juice...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: And

      >It would be nice when I turn off a device it is off, not on some sort of standby eating juice...

      If saving juice is you concern, then having a degree of automation on lights, windows, window blinds and thermostats can actually save energy.

      Take blinds - a PV powered motor could close the blinds whenever the temperature in the room rises above X, thus reducing the amount of sunlight that enters. It would be self contained, and it wouldn't communicate with anything other than a manual overide switch (aka an 'Off' switch).

    2. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: And

      RE: Programmable Thermostats

      I have one too. It comes on just long enough before I get out of bed to warm the house up enough if not already there, and turns off before I have to leave for work.

      It stays off all day until just before I get home, which due to regular hours is generally about the same time, and then once it has done its job for a few hours, turns off again, so the house can gently cool.

      If I need it on longer, I just have to tap it when I walk past to get a drink, snack etc from the kitchen.

      I have a very new, very well insulated house that doesn't leak much heat, that usually doesn't even trigger the heating for most of the year, body heat and other minor assorted heat sources being enough to keep the temperature up.

      Where will a smart meter help me here?

      >It would be nice when I turn off a device it is off, not on some sort of standby eating juice...

      If saving juice is you concern, then having a degree of automation on lights, windows, window blinds and thermostats can actually save energy.

      Take blinds - a PV powered motor could close the blinds whenever the temperature in the room rises above X, thus reducing the amount of sunlight that enters. It would be self contained, and it wouldn't communicate with anything other than a manual overide switch (aka an 'Off' switch).

      Sounds like a plan, you could probably build that for peanuts with an arduino, or a breadboard and some cheap logic in a box.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: And

        You could also plant a deciduous tree in front of your South-facing windows... it allows warming sunlight through in Winter, and the leaves create shade in Summer.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am surprised by these results, because I find the UK consumers and households avid gadget-buyers.

    I am quite certain that the spending per household on these gadgets is above average in the UK.

    The uptake of Netflix etc, is higher than in most other countries,if that is anything to go by.

    Personally, I'd wait for much home-automation gadgetry to mature before I'd buy.

    The non-integrated stuff (separate gadgets that usually replace autonomous machines like hoovers, mowers, etc.) are still very expensive and mass-uptake will reduce the costs of their components drastically.

    Integrated gadgetry (remotely-controllable, usually, like IP-cameras, smart-monitors, etc.) is often hopelessly insecure (even if it is from expensive brands) and the patterns of what most users will feel comfortable with still need to become recognised, so you may get stuck with programmable stuff that is too complicated or has too many consequences to feel comfortable with..

    So, I'd wait.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've just purchased a new water softener to replace one that had died after 20 years old. The new machine model contains a Wi-Fi module but to activate it, to tell me whether the salt needs topping up or not, would have cost me an extra £100.

      In my mind I can't justify that £100 because when it does need topping up I've still got to go out there and pour the salt and based on looking in there once a month I'm unlikely to for it to run out of salt.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >Integrated gadgetry (remotely-controllable, usually, like IP-cameras, smart-monitors, etc.) is often hopelessly insecure

        That never stopped people from buying analogue baby-monitors or cordless phones in the days before DECT. I remember being a teenager and hearing phone conversations on a toy walky-talky, and there is a woman in Bristol who still uses an analogue cordless phone ( I know cos I was with radio ham friend and after hearing voices from around Europe, a twist of the dial gave us two West Country voices nattering away.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech savy?

    Are they really tech savy, or are they just consumer whores who don't understand the privacy consequences of their soon to be abandonware gadgets?

  20. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Typical PwC...

    All of the questions. None of the answers.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Where is the line between "smart heating\kettle" and "burn my house down" ?

    1. Alien8n

      That will be SkyNet

      (Although I'm not sure of the practicality of warming a kettle of water by using a thermonuclear detonation)

  22. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    ...busy lives in a practical way or even reduce their energy bills

    If you're too busy to go in the kitchen and open the fridge or look at the oven, ffs slow down and relax before you have a stroke.

    As for still flogging the tired horse that is "reduce their energy bills"... where's the real, actual, unbiased evidence of these savings? Can they be achieved without significant up-front outlay whose ROI is measured in decades? Otherwise you're just moving the cost around, saving nothing. Maybe even spending more.

    And no, I don't mean the typical smart-meter BS about how the unicorns in the magic meter box will somehow reduce your electricity consumption. Real, hard evidence, not produced by anyone with a vested interest in smart meters. Not clear that exists.

  23. Esme

    Huh?

    "Less than 10 per cent of consumers were not bothered by pressure to keep up with tech-savvy friends and family with smart homes and were unimpressed with the ability to control devices through an app, possibly preferring to stride over and flip the switch themselves."

    Really? 90 per cent of folk are concerned to keep up with the Jones's, and are impressed with the ability to turn stuff on and off via an app? I find that very hard to credit. Or maybe it's just that most of my friends, even those not particularly IT-savvy, are not sheep, and look into the pros and cons of things before buying.

    1. Alien8n

      Re: Huh?

      It's more likely that the wording of the survey actually translates as "90% of people would buy an automated vacuum cleaner or lawn mower if they cost the same as a regular one"

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    were unimpressed with the ability to control devices through an app, possibly preferring to stride over and flip the switch themselves

    Control through an app pretty well guarantees that your device is spaffing data...to the manufacturers only if you're lucky.

  25. fruitoftheloon
    WTF?

    My piece of electronic cleaning technology....

    Is a dishwasher.

    When we change our gas combi boiler to a wood-pellet one I will be checking out the latest whizzy thermostat thingies.

    That aside I see NO F'ING BENEFIT WHATSOEVER of any other currently available IoT 'applications'

    'Tis often a solution looking (DESPERATELY) for a problem...

    /cynicism

  26. A K Stiles Silver badge

    3rd Party Connections

    I realise that they build these things with Apps and 3rd party servers for ease of installation and configuration (and not at all because they want to be able to analyse all the metrics they collect...) but unless I can configure the thing so it never talks outside my router unless it is only talking directly with an authorised (by me) device, AND I can actually see a benefit to having the thing, it isn't getting into my home, no how, no way.

    I realise the android phone is already telling google way more about me than I am happy with, but that doesn't mean I need to expand that to every 2-bit IoT peddler that comes along.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    95 per cent have noticed its "benefits"

    call me cynical...

  28. tiggity Silver badge

    compelling reason might help

    I have a bog standard battery powered "main" thermostat that line of sight communicates with boiler if heating needed (temperature near boiler itself not representative of overall house temperature hence non wired in thermostat so it can be sited further away & have more accurate "core" house temperature).

    Thermostat allows me to set desired temperature for various times (and an away setting so can set tick over temperature to stop water pipes freezing etc.).

    I have minimum temperature settings for various time segments e.g. overnight, early morning when getting ready for work, main part of day when out at work, evening when at home but pre bed... and of course manual override on thermostat so can just alter target temperature on the fly e.g. if some visitor has reptile like metabolism & needs more heat.

    In addition each radiator has an adjustable mechanical thermostat on the valve that acts as an override controls for how hot that room will get (so e.g. kitchen radiator throttled down v. low as not a room that needs to be particularly toasty as if in use then cooking itself will create heat)

    Obviously I adjust settings so temperature values change depending on time of year (ironically, despite it being June today was so cold the heating kicked in this morning at 6)

    All fairly low tech, but it works, saves fuel as heating only kicks in when falls below set temperature, only grief is occasional need for a battery change so why would I need a smart IOT thermostat solution other than to say "oh shiny"?

    As for lights - only on when it's dark and I'm in the room as amazingly enough there's light switches by the doors in my house, so as I exit / enter I can flick the switch appropriately.

    As others have said, my major power "waste" is things that needlessly enter standby when off switch pressed

  29. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Robot vacuum cleaners...

    ...are they any good at doing stair carpets?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Robot vacuum cleaners...

      Do we want them to be ???

  30. Triggerfish

    DMCA

    Due to the DMCA in America, Farmers can't fix John Dere Tractors or get a mechanic to fix it, tampering with the engine means also tampering with software controls and so breaching DMCA. Farmers are being forced to get John Dere Mechanics to their farms, covering all travel costs etc.

    So who fixes your light or your fridge when it has that totally unique software copied from slashdot with two characters changed? Do you have to pay for someone from hotpoint to come round?

    I know we are protected better, but just curious how is that going to work in America?

  31. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    > Due to the DMCA in America, Farmers can't fix John Dere Tractors or get a mechanic to fix it, tampering with the engine means also tampering with software controls and so breaching DMCA.

    Yeah, that's a nice little "unintended" consequence, I'm sure it was completely not thought of when a) the DMCA was passed, and b) John Deere put loads of software into their machines.

    One thing I think we can be very certain of is that most of the big names will not have any problem using such techniques to "own" us.

    The first problem is that we don't "own" the device. We may own the hardware, but read the small print and we don't own everything needed for it to work. The manufacturer can, at any time if they believe we've not complied with their restrictions (fair or otherwise), withdraw their permission to use the code - and then technically the device becomes "unlawful" to continue using. We're long overdue a test case - what if (taking something lke the John Deere example) your car "just stopped working" and you were informed that the manufacturer had bricked it (with no legal recourse) for an alleged breach of licensing terms ?

    And as already mentioned, plenty of this I-o-Tat won't work without the mother ship - so the manufacturer can brick your devices at any time, either because they choose to, or because they are no longer around to provide said mother ship.

    BTW - for those interested in heating controls without the lock in or cost, take a look at the OpenTRV project. That could be interesting when they get to the stage of having product for end users to buy (AIUI, at the moment they are still in trials with the likes of social housing providers).

    1. Triggerfish

      Yes apparently a lot of farmers are buying old tractors now because they can repair them themselves. I sort of wonder if this is where a lot of IOT will end up.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    levels of smart.

    there are lots of devices that could provide information or react to enhance someones home environment.

    robot vacuum cleaner - reduce time taken to just picking up items and doing corners and under furniture so less time less often

    thermostat - keeps temperature comfortable but reduces cost (best done with other insulation and draft proofing)

    then there are lots of items that can provide detailed metrics that can help the user understand use and reduce costs IF they want and this DATA should ONLY be accessible to that user unless and only after Informed consent is given and should not be a condition or requirement of use of the product. - examples would be use of power (at a device level) when used, how long, so fridge door open, washing machine time cycle, water/power, shower water and heating used, lights on in each room when how long how much power used, even down to laptop, phone, tablet, etc charged time/power. this is software that wont become outdated as the product ages IF its exported to a local server/Gateway in a common non proprietary way.

    but what i dont need to know i only have 1 beer left in the fridge and the nachos in the have just been eaten by the kids.or for the fridge to decide to reorder these items for me.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: levels of smart.

      It would also be a good way of making sure granny is alive and well without using spy cameras - the old system of spotting whether full milk bottles are accumulating on her doorstop doesn't work now she gets her milk from Tescos.

  33. Chozo
    FAIL

    Oh no not again

    Every bloody eighteen months some whizz kid startup figures out how to turn on an appliance with a cellphone. Now if they could just make an app to chisel the pizza from the bottom of my freezer and get it into the microwave..

  34. ad47uk

    Not interested in all this smart stuff, My phone and tablet is the only smart thing I have really, My TV is not a smart Tv, it is a 8 year old plasma, my heating is controlled by a thermostat, why would I need it connected to the net? My hi-fi got a record deck on it, see music from black plastic things that you put a stylus on, great idea that was.

    I think some of these ideas to connect stuff to the net is just because it can be done.

  35. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Happy

    Control your

    house from your phone? really? will it work with my old rotary dial phone? dial 1 for lights, dial 2 for heating, dial 3 for nanny to give you a beati... ohh thats only my phone.

    And you dont even want to know was 9 does......

  36. tony2heads

    Protocols and lock-in

    I would be happier about all this IOT crap if it used open protocols and had sensible firewalls setup as default. It would also need battery backups for 'mission critical' parts (locks and firewall)

  37. Medical Cynic

    1984

    Bring on the telescreen - but in a rather more sophisticated form.

  38. ukgnome

    Smart Meters?

    What you actually need is a Yorkshireman.

    Too 'ot - open t bloody window

    Too cowld - put wood int 'ole and put jumper lad

    Too expensive - turn off t bloody light

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