Home & Office

Finding a 'home' for the Internet of Things

When you think of the Internet of Things, do you think about your home? I don't. To me, IoT is an industrial thing and not a home thing. I'm just not ready for a fully internet connected home.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

There's a lot of buzz going around about the Internet of Things (IoT), but some of it has to do with an internet connected home or home devices that are internet connected. I can see it for some home automation, security systems, and possibly even for monitoring children. I refuse, however, to bother with an internet connected refrigerator or toaster. That's just silly and unnecessary. 

I received an email that sparked this post. It had a headline similar to "15 IoT Things for Your Home". 

Yes, I bit on it because it's a list (Who can resist a list?) and it had an IoT reference. 

Unfortunately, most of the products weren't what I'd consider to be IoT-related. Remote control stereo systems, appliances, and television-related tech. Why would anyone need to turn on his stereo from the office? 

I'm not sure what these connected devices could do that a simple timer or programmable interface couldn't do.

To me, IoT devices are industrial sensors, valves, fans, refrigeration units, water flow indicators, pumps, wind speed devices, and other such units that report statuses or that take some action based on sensor feedback. IoT works well for these applications. I question IoT for home use, with the exceptions that I mentioned earlier.

I think that internet connected homes, or homes with several devices connected to the internet, only serve to produce more security headaches for homeowners, not fewer. How many homeowners want neighbors or passersby to hack into their kid's webcams, their refrigerators, their security systems, their thermostats, or their toasters? My best advice is to not offer up a larger attack surface than is necessary with your internet connected devices.

The other major issue with internet connected home devices is that of updates. My router updates itself automatically, which sounds like an advantage, and it can be, if the updates have been thoroughly tested prior to rollout. My worry is that automatically updating devices might have me wishing that they didn't if my thermostat-controlled central air and heating system goes offline because of an errant one. The same goes for my internet connected refrigerator, toaster, oven, and stereo*. 

And if the manufacturers of these devices don't offer automatic updates, the other option is to manually update them. I don't want that either. I have enough items in my house to update and manage already.

But do my problems with IoT for homes mean that there's no chance that this area couldn't be a lucrative market? Certainly not. In fact, utility companies would do well to connect our homes to a central management point so that they can be metered and monitored remotely. There's no need to have expensive and unsightly meters in our yards or attached to our homes. 

A properly internet connected home could help better manage power, water, natural gas, and fuel oil consumption for cities. In the case of solar-powered homes, the electric company could accurately monitor the amount of electricity being put back into the grid. Internet connected homes could be better monitored for natural gas and water leaks. I suppose electricity leaches could also be located by high level diagnostic software. I'm sure that homeowners would pay a small fee to have their homes assessed for such unnecessary power drainers.

No, I'm not quite ready to have my appliances or other home gadgets connected to the internet, but I do see a great potential in limited connectivity.

What do you think? Do you think that IoT for the home is a good thing? Do you think that you'll bite into internet connected devices or appliances for your home? Talk back and let me know.

*None of which I have or will ever have.

Related Stories:

Editorial standards