Of more use would be phone or tablet application with associated barcode and RFID scanner that ties together the amount and best-before dates of the contents of the refrigerator, frosted-over freezer and cupboards with a menu planner and a shopping list. Tying the short lifetime of electronic devices to the long lifetime of a refrigerator is a poor design choice.
The thing about remote operations for homes or ships or whatever, is that we essentially need web-cams installed everywhere to confirm our over-the-internet commands are being followed. That's just going to be too hard to buy (into); too Big-Brother.
Have you ever tried to program one of those sprinkler timer systems? Maybe it is easy for you, but they are pretty incomprehensible to me.
I'd rather get on my computer, click on a picture of my yard and tell it how often it should water the different zones. It can look up weather reports and adjust if there's a storm coming. Soil sensors won't tell you if it is going to rain.
Of all the wireless systems in the house, sprinkler systems are one system I wouldn't be so worried about hacking. Maybe the system can have an automatic '2 hr maximum' or something to prevent hacked or mistaken programming from flooding your yard.
You've hit the nail on the head, Junko: there AREN'T any compelling B2C applications for the internet of things. But that's not the reason that IoT is "happening": cellular is commoditized, just as computers were before them. Silicon vendors and electronics vendors desperately need the next big thing, and IoT is the only idea that anyone has that could support the volumes.
For sure, the projections are hockey stick-ed. On the other hand, maybe something valuable will eventually come out of it, even if there isn't anything there now.
Just because you don't see it doesn't mean that a reason doesn't exist, nor that one will never exist. Just think about how the future looked 50 or 25 years ago:
o In 1964, no one could envision that you would buy a telephone for a computer in your home only so it could talk to other computers, and -- at a time when telephone service was $10 a month -- pay $50 a month for the service. Yet, today, that is the norm in the developed world.
o In 1964, no one could envision that TV's would be hardwired and phones would be wireless. Yet, today, that is the norm.
o In 1989, no one could envision that PC peripherals would all use the same interface cable, or that SW drivers could be self-installing and self-configuring. Yet today, that is the norm, and peripheral costs are lower for all peripherals because of the standardization of USB.
So here's a use case that shows how your washer and grill communicating might be something you value. Everytime I barbeque, I get sauce on my shirt. Thus I need to wash my shirt. Because this is a long standing pattern, my home energy manager can save significant cost by only warming up my hot water just-in-time, in this case, for that load of laundry that is going to start the evening that I barbeque.
The whole idea of the Internet of Things is that the standardization of the comms function lowers the costs for everything, and that the full benefits of the network (Metcalfe's Law) is not knowable a priori. The array of low-cost ubiquitous sensors that are coming available to us are justified on their utility in one use case and then the creativity of the world allows for infinite combinations that come available, essentially "for free" afterwards. You just need the standards defined and inclusive. For example 6loWPAN has security provisions that simply weren't used in the case of the lights. Is that the Internet of Things' fault, or of the supplier who failed to observe the standards?
So here's the thing. You don't need to be convinced that the Internet of Things is a good thing, any more than Gramma needs to be convinced to use a Smart Phone. Just don't complain when the rest of us move on, because when Gramma says "convince me" about the smart phone, she really just means she doesn't want to bother with anything new.
Are you convinced yet that there could be some utility to standardizing the Internet of Things? Markets are won and lost in transitions, and this is likely the biggest transition to come along since PCs, LANs and Cell Phones. But like Gramma and the Smart Phone, those who choose to ignore it, do so at the risk of missing out.
That (WiFi controlled sprinkler) could be useful, but an even better solution already exists. You can buy at a reasonable price TODAY a sprinkler timer system (even a multi-zone one) that can have water level sensors that can restrict watering only to when it is needed. Sme even have WIRELESS (but NOT hackable WiFi) connections between the soil sensor(s) and the controller. The soil sensors are FAR better than depending on the still unreliable weather forecasts, especially in the heat of summer where scattered "pop-up" storms are likely that cover very limited areas.
BTW, Junko, welcome to MY world of curmudgeonliness! In another 20 years or so, you'll become a master at it!
I love Tati. Buster Keaton also made a movie with an automated house, including an escalator--the first shown in a movie (long before they were used in stores). I loved the model train system that delivered meals from the kitchen to the dining table.
I always hear about the refrigerator that figures out what you are out of and orders more for you. Except this is easily accomplished by opening the door and taking a look, which you are going to get around to sooner or later if you eat food. And I don't buy the same food every week, so I certainly wouldn't want the refrigerator ordering food for me.
The only IOT I see as being useful, yet I haven't seen it anywhere, is a WiFi connected sprinkler system, that can check the weather and water appropriately. Come on guys. Stop designing smart refrigerators and get to work!
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.