I had a discussion with a friend of mine back in the 90's regarding the Internet appliances designs that we were building for our customers. This was the era of the "Internet-enabled toaster" and other bad ideas. My friend is a big data kind of guy, and he was telling me about XML and other standards that enabled the exchange of data between loosely coupled networked systems. That's when I realized that the real power of the Internet was going to be what is now called M2M communications. The problem at the time was that the infrastructure was not yet ready to support that expansion.
Fast-forward to today, and we are very close to being able to realize that expansion. There is real technology in place and useful things that can be done with it. Industrial applications do in fact do this type of communication, but it is done largely on an ad-hoc and local basis. This is similar to the Novell Netware networks that we used to build, which only reached within a company. Ultimately, IoT will juice the expansion the same way that TCP/IP did with the last one. Yes, there are issues. We must work out an appropriate security model. We will end up defining classifications for sensors as being openly public or restricted in terms of access. Nobody paid much attention to that in the Internet appliances because they never got serious enough to be subjected to that scrutiny. IoT is real enough and close enough that it is being examined on that level. The process will be messy and frustrating, but it will happen.
I think it is time to move to the middle of nowhere and get off the grid. I'll get rid of 'smart' meters with solar panels, generators, cisterns, and a well. I'll get radio/TV from the airwaves. If I want to watch a movie, I'll either drive into town and go to the theatre, or pay cash for a blu-ray. If I really need to get on the net, I'll find an internet cafe somewhere and post anonymously. Goodbye cell phones that follow you wherever you go. My car will be a '73 240Z.
I really don't like the idea of everyone from the utilities to the NSA to AT&T/Amazon/Google/etc. knowing my location and all my habits, likes, dislikes, etc. Worse, with the IOT the neighbors might hack into my home grid and turn on the furnace on a hot day just for fun.
The irony is that I helped design the technology that enables all this! Is it too late to repent?
If I were a teenage geek, I'd do it for fun - especially if the neighbor was a friend. Likely, it would escalate to where we'd be turning each other's lights/home theatres/appliances/etc. on and off randomly. Just imagine... my neighbor loves classical music - so I change their streaming audio to an 'all Iron Maiden all of the time' channel. Oh the possibilities :-).
Actually, I'm more concerned with a burglar monitoring my sensors to see if I am at home. I don't even like the idea of a security company having access to that kind of information. As I said, a good security model is critical. I've already had something similar to what @DouginRB describes when I had a C-band satellite system that used an RF remote control. It would mysteriously change channels or turn off and on. It turns out that a neighbor across the street had the same system and that there was no keying on the commands.
To some extent I sympathize with your desire to go off the grid. I worked in the defense industry and did enough cyber warfare work to realize what was going on and how far it reached, but realistically the best compromise is to control and protect your systems and minimize the threats.
It's easy to be a Luddite when considering the IOT. It's also easy to come up with examples of ideas that were thought to be lunacy, but at a later date became viable products.
To paraphrase statements I've heard over the years:
"I don't understand why you'd want an answering machine. If it's important, they'll call you back."
"Bar codes will never work in a grocery store because of things that are sold by weight." (this one was me)
"Power steering takes away the feel of the road and makes it more difficult to drive."
"If you try and put a phone and a camera together, you'll just get something that's a lousy version of both."
"Digital video will never work. It takes up too much space." (I got fired once for disputing this one)
I could go on. I expect that anyone reading here could come up with quite a list, as well.
I spoofed a few ideas over on IoTWorld a while back, but despite my sarcasm, I won't be surprised to see variations of all three of my hypothetical products come to fruition at some point. Especially, the "PairMe wardrobe alignment system." I'd buy that now.
@betajet thank you for the link... it lit up my day!
But on the serious side, isn't that a design flaw in Segway? I would have thought that the attitude control portion would go to quiescant mode when the Segway is powered off and spring back to life if a weight was sensed on it. The motor drive portion can of course be turned on with the power button.
@Duane Benson good post... you should feel gratified or vindicated (depends on what outcome you really expected!) that some of your prognostications may be realized by some one actually making those you listed!
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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