Junko, I believe your original question says everything.
I don't believe there is a need for connected devices at home except to build some basic safety features that most of them already have.
If I forget to turn off my coffee machine the one I have shuts down by itself. Same with the iron and the oven. I can program my washer to start up to 12H later, but it won't sort the clothes by itself (that would be something to pay for).
To me the new wave of IoT at home (except maybe for the thermostat) is just a buzz to help manufacturers to sell us more devices, accessories and consumables.
Like the new coffee machines that won't accept other brand's capsules, refrigerators that "know" what type of food we eat, and "smart" TVs that follow everything we watch.
I like the M2M and IoT idea of helping manage the power grid, provide services for "smart cities", help manage traffic and monitor noise and pollution.
But I don't see the need to have my washer talk to my grill, nor my iron to my coffee maker.
First of all I would like to say IoT is a small baby that yet learing to crawl. It needs support both at the technical level and social level. When internet was first introduced people have lot of inhibitions about it. But now you cant just live without it.
Privacy and Security are one of the main issues that IoT has to deal with and things are getting structured in the same path. But patience is what is needed.
Imagine if there is power pull down and your washer and grill can prioritise who needs to finish their work first. And a smart fridge can check out you are running out of groceries and vegetables and check in your favorite store what deals are going on and inform you on your smartphone and very well order them for you. This is future of technology and its bound to come.
I don't know where it belongs because control devices based on sensors are basically SCADA systems.
Take for example the problem of running ships. In the past, you had the helmsman, lee helmsman, engine room operators, boiler room operators, navigator, and the duty officer, all doing the job that the duty officer alone should be able to do. And you also had multiple other men on watch, just to monitor gauges and levels, and ensure everything was operating correctly.
Nowadays, with IoT-type of systems, not only can the monitoring and control functions be accomplished by one or two people only, but the machinery can also be monitored back at the home base, so that any components that might soon require attention will already have been identified and any required replacement parts shipped ahead of time.
This type of system improves efficiency, deletes mind-numbing jobs, and it improves operational readiness. This type of scenario plays out in factories, power plants, or any situation where there's a lot of machinery involved. That's where IoT makes the most sense.
In short, SCADA and IoT are not mutually exclusive!
I don't get this hype about IoT and the reason why should devices talk between them; you all gave good comments about this scepticism. If IoT is not for homes, I don't know where it belongs because control devices based on sensors are basically SCADA systems.
I agree with your reactions, Junko, but I also think the premises are off base. Some of the examples, like the car's headlights or the iron left on, are specious. You don't need OR WANT IoT for that. You want appliances to be smarter on their own.
What's the point of a smartphone telling you that you left the iron on, if you aren't there to shut it off? Doesn't it make a whole lot more sense for the iron to shut itself off instead? Ditto with the car's headlights. How difficult is it to have them shut themselves off before you drain the battery? It's a very simple control logic problem.
But as someone who has been at this hyped-up IoT for decades already, it does have its place. One fairly indisputable advantage for implementing this sort of thing is to reduce manning requirements in factories, ships, airplanes, powerplants, and such. Not homes primarily, but environments that are filled with systems which require constant monitoring, which in the past has had to be done by many (fallible) humans.
This type of automatic monitoring and control takes many, many sensors, remotely controlled pumps, valves, and electric machinery, and the logic (algorithms) to control the devices based on what the sensors tell you. For this to all play together, with the necessary redundancy for reliability and survivability, you need clever networks which tie it all together.
But it's hard to create a media blitz, unless you talk about things every man or woman in the street can relate to. So it very much looks like an answer to a question no one asked. I think everyone who attempts to hype up IoT for homes should make it a point to watch the 1958 Jacques Tati French movie "Mon Oncle." Here's a sample scene, showing the baffling kitchen with overly automated appliances:
When I first heard about the Internet of Digital Things (IDioT), it was from ARM who saw that demand for smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices would saturate pretty soon and needed a new market for ARM chips to maintain growth. Similarly, Cisco is big into IDioT, because they also need to develop new markets for growth. Same with other large corporations pushing IDioT.
I see IDioT as a technology that's trying desperately to convince consumers that they need it, like 3D TV, Smart TV, self-driving cars, and automobile infotainment. It would be nice if this effort instead addressed real human needs like reducing the cost of health care, caring for the elderly, rebuilding public transit, and reversing climate change.
I think we focus too much on home automation when we talk about IoT. I'm sure that is because of Google's recent moves. The real value from IoT will not be realized by individuals. It will be realized by businesses, communities, government, etc. It has the potential to deliver very useful information. It shouldn't be expected to be a source of convenience, i.e. the washer talking to the grill.
What are the engineering and design challenges in creating successful IoT devices? These devices are usually small, resource-constrained electronics designed to sense, collect, send, and/or interpret data. Some of the devices need to be smart enough to act upon data in real time, 24/7. Specifically the guests will discuss sensors, security, and lessons from IoT deployments.