The Machine

Empty dishwasher tray with water droplets

TIL – today I learned the term ‘domotics‘ for home automation.

Wikipedia has more: ‘When connected to … ‘ and then it says the magic word IoT. IoT stands for Internet of Things.

IoT in home context is simply put:

connect the devices to a network that enables you (and others you want to) have the capability to use, schedule, turn on and off, and so forth – the devices at home / cabin / wherever.

What devices?

  • fridge
  • sauna
  • heating
  • air conditioning
  • locks
  • home entertainment system

One of the fundamental questions with home and IoT is: security. Security can actually be provided by using these systems, but security can also be breached by improper implementation of the “whole system”.

What typically happened, in early infancy of home IoT systems, is that there’s such a rush to push price-consciouss (cheap) devices on the market (in order to grab a large market share), that both go-to-market speed and costs of implenting the systems were both of crucial importance.

Go-to-market speed is related to the implementation complexity. System complexity contributes to increased costs. Thus manufacturers saw a great win: make simple devices, lower the costs, get to market faster!

Problems? Sometimes. If the cut-down version of a IoT-connectable product was done by say, omitting authentication and encryption mechanisms altogether; or by a hasty and untested, low quality versions of these mechanisms, people would certainly run into trouble.

There have been security camera dashboards (accessible via Web) which have almost non-existent strength in user authentication, or which have easily guessable default passwords. However, as time goes on, usually these become a exception rather than the norm.

These expose the home to outside access, sometimes en masse: there are also public tools that can scan entire IP address ranges fast, to find out whether the IP address has a particular known service running on it.

The sneaky part is that often these problems are not visible to the naked eye. You can’t see the quality of a security device, by just staring at it. You can’t measure the quality even using a magnifying glass. Heck, even if you’re a software or electronics engineer, you probably cannot get legal access to the electronics and software inside “the box”. It’s essentially a black box approach to security what the vendors offer. That means trust alone is assumed.

In fact, what many DIY geeks prefer, for example instead of buying a security service with camera monitoring offered with it, is they build their own system – well, yes, hence the DIY – Do It Yourself.

Now the questions we might beg to answer:

  • can you actually do a better job than a company doing the device and software?
  • what are the likely benefits of Home automation in the future?
  • what are we already using at homes, without actually paying a lot of attention to?
  • where will the standardization lead in Home automation?
  • is there going to be a convergence of ideas and practical implementation?
  • how affordable is Home automation for the masses?

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