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Internet of things and the dangers

Imagine a baby monitor in the 1990’s.  It was no more than a simple walkie talkie.  A refrigerator from the same era didn’t dispense filtered water or ice in most homes.  Cars had tape decks, and cellphones were for the rich and very basic, insecure, and a luxury.

This term is best used as a pseudonym for home automation, since that is the main application of it on the consumer market.

Lights can be turned on and off remotely, doors locked and unlocked, climate control managed, and your baby can be watched from the internet somewhat securely.  Other home automation projects can include refrigerators with touch screens, and the humble dishwasher.

But notice how I said the baby can be watched somewhat securely.  The underlying systems in place to send information can be haphazard, as the internet was built on trust, and in the modern world, people online can commit crimes from miles away.  This wasn’t a consideration when Tim Burns Lee made the first web browser and server.  He and other tech pioneers consider profits over security every time, and thus the market isn’t ready for Alexa.

Most households are still in pain from the Great Recession, and wage growth remains stagnant even for the college educated.  Household debt is high to maintain consumer spending, and most smartphones are bought on installment plans.  No such credit is available for an Alexa, and people are wary of being recorded at all times by massive data-centers.

When it’s possible for a nefarious individual to breach the security on an internet connected refrigerator and kill the compressor remotely, I prefer an old fashioned on with just white bread in it, not WiFi.  If a crook could send a text to a smart dishwasher and cause it to flood my kitchen, I wouldn’t be happy and neither would the homeowners insurance company be happy with that claim.

So, if you know someone who is handy with micro-controllers or embedded systems, do this.  Allow them to build a custom solution for you that has the code written to run it made with security front and center, not Christmas ship date.

These systems are complex and somewhat pricey, also not off the rack entirely.  They are also time consuming to develop and market.  However, this is one area I personally have experience in through my education since 2010.  I have used 3d printers, BASIC Stamps, and Java based robotics platforms in the past.  The sensors and actuators that can be hooked up to such devices are numerous and well documented, and regular progress reports on software development will be submitted per any agreement between you and us.


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