You can’t avoid the ‘Internet of things’ hype, so you might as well understand it.

In his article Geoff Duncan says that at a very basic level, “Internet of Things” means devices that can sense aspects of the real world – like temperature, lighting, the presence or absence of people or objects, etc. – and report that real-world data, or act on it.

Internet of Things

He gave a bit of history and then write about the “Smart closet” to gave a practical example. The article then goes on and ask the question “Why aren’t we there yet?” and discusses four reasons to answer the question.

I enjoy the article very much and would recommend it to everyone that wants to learn more about the “Internet of things”.

You can read the article here.

If you enjoyed the article, will you please like this blog post, as well as the original article.


Top smart home technology features consumers want

When it comes to smart home technology, amenities like refrigerators, thermostats, lighting, and garage doors are gaining in popularity among homeowners and buyers. But smart technology that controls home security systems might be the most desirable, according to research from iControl Networks, a home technology company, in the 2014 State of the Smart Home report.


Researchers surveyed more than 900 homebuyers and renters who do and do not use smart technology in their homes. Among respondents, 67 percent ranked home security as the top reason for using a smart home system. This includes items such as fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

The survey also indicates that people would be willing to pay for smart home security systems, with 51 percent who said they would pay up to $500 for a fully-equipped smart home, and 32 percent who said they would pay between $500 and $3000.

“For now, safety and security are driving initial mass market adoption,” says Jim Johnson, executive vice president of Icontrol Networks. “But the convenience associated with a connected home will likely play a greater role as consumers realize how much easier automation makes their lives.”

Seventy-eight percent of respondents ranked energy management as one of the top features that matter most to them in a smart home. HVAC heating and cooling was cited as the most important feature in helping to reduce energy bills.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said indoor lighting and ceiling fan control is a desired feature, and 42.5 percent said they are very interested in replacing their thermostat with one that automatically adjusts when the home is unoccupied.

ADT refines its ‘recipes’ on smart home automation

Ben Keough and Tyler Wells Lynch,
3:03 p.m. EDT August 20, 2014

For most of its brief existence, the modern smart home has offered a frustratingly fragmented user experience. A maze of competing, proprietary ecosystems has forced consumers to pick a “side” (be it Staples Connect, Lowes Iris, Quirky Wink, or Belkin WeMo) and sacrifice otherwise attractive products on the altar of compatibility.

Some see a potential solution in IFTTT (If This Then That), a free service that gives websites, apps, and devices a simple way to interact with one another.

Major brands—including Philips, Nest, and even Belkin and Quirky—have already made their products compatible with IFTTT. This week home security giant ADT announced that it’s developing an IFTTT “channel” for its Pulse home automation system.

At its most basic, IFTTT lets you create “recipes” with the tech you use every day as the ingredients. The recipes follow a simple template in which “triggers” set off associated “actions.”

If, for example, you want to automatically back up all the photos you take with your smartphone, you can write this recipe: “If I take a photo, then upload that photo to Dropbox.” You could just as easily tell your Nest thermostat to switch to a precise temperature whenever you turn off your WeMo switch or Philips Hue light bulb.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: Imagine what you could do with a smart home security system tied into IFTTT. To give you an idea, here are a few recipes ADT has developed for the beta version of its Pulse channel, which will likely launch next year.

  • If a wearable changes from “sleep” to “awake,” then disarm the ADT Pulse.
  • If a phone alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m., then turn on the ADT Pulse-connected coffee machine.
  • If a user texts “DogDoor”, then unlock the ADT Pulse-connected back door.
  • If the doorbell rings, then send a real-time video clip of the front door.
  • If the sun sets, then turn on ADT Pulse–connected outdoor lights.

Of course, making Pulse compatible with IFTTT means adding lots of extra cloud connections, which opens it up to the threat of hacking. To state the obvious, that’s a huge concern for a system that’s all about security. To that end, ADT told CNET that it plans to move slowly and to ensure a higher standard of security.

While it’s not the first smart home company to add IFTTT compatibility, ADT Pulse will be the only security system integrated with the service. In theory, its presence could serve to lure other third-party gadgets like Dropcam and the Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock to create their own IFTTT channels.

The smart home wars are only just starting to heat up, but a partnership like this one could help shape the path home automation takes over the next few years. We can’t wait to see where it leads.

The Internet of Things: what is it and what does it mean for you?

By Andrew Paterson, Senior Technology Officer

Picture yourself coming home from work in twenty years’ time. The house alarm reacts to a signal from your car as you pull up on the drive and turns off. The alarm then triggers the doors to unlock. The doors unlocking tells the lights in your house to come on. You’ve already turned the heating on, using a mobile device while you were at work. All of these processes will have taken place because the devices are connected and able to respond to the others’ actions, based on commands you’ve already given or pre-programmed behaviour.

blog-internet-of-thingsThis trend of increasingly network-connected objects has loosely been termed the Internet of Things. And if you’re not familiar with the phrase already, you soon will be.

As well as offering convenience, the Internet of Things also has the potential to save you money. In the UK, the roll out of smart meters is imminent, giving you the opportunity to see how much power your home is using in real time. The devices will allow you to make choices that will not only be reflected on the display, but also in your bill at the end of the month.

However, this information can also potentially link back to the individual, becoming personal data and therefore covered under the Data Protection Act. In a single occupancy household the information collected will generally relate to the one person. In households of more than one person the occupants may interact with the devices through personal accounts, or the devices may interact with a gadget already linked to the individual like a mobile phone.

You can see from the diagram below that the Internet of Things can incorporate many of the different devices many of us already have around our house. We’ve provided a brief overview of the types of information they are likely to process and the benefits that they could bring by being connected. Some of the devices have a limited user interface, which can make it more challenging for manufacturers to inform customers about what the device does. Nevertheless, this is what they must do.


As well as understanding how these devices work and what they can do, it is also important to be aware of the potential security concerns associated with the Internet of Things.

For instance, many of the devices will operate through the internet connection supplied using your router. If someone can get around your router’s security settings then potentially all of the smart devices in your house will be vulnerable. However remote, this is an issue individuals need to be aware of and can take action to address, for example by setting up a strong wireless network password and following the advice in our guidance on keeping your network secure.

Which?’s research into Smart TVs

Without even realising it, many of you may already be sitting next to a device which is arguably part of the Internet of Things. While Smart TVs are still relatively expensive they are quickly coming down in price and allow you not only to browse websites, but access tailored apps and games, plus of course stream TV programmes on-demand.

However, new research published by the consumer group Which? has highlighted that with greater capability, come potential threats to your privacy.

The research focused on the five leading brands of Smart TVs currently on the market today. The consumer group looked at the information being exchanged between the viewer, the TV and the manufacturer, as well as the information provided to consumers to help them understand how their information is being used.

While the results show that the information being exchanged is not particularly sensitive, in many cases it can be classed as personal information. This means that companies will routinely be using your information to tailor the services you receive. This might be through useful features such as suggesting upcoming programmes that you might like to watch, but will also include services you may be less keen to receive, such as targeted advertising – a practice that all but one of the manufacturers surveyed by Which? currently carries out.

If manufacturers are using your personal information in this way then the Data Protection Act requires them to provide an appropriate level of information to explain what’s going on with your details. The Which? research suggests that the information provided to consumers is inconsistent and the choices allowing consumers to stop some of their information being used are often difficult to find and understand.

What next

So what should we all be doing to get ready for the Internet of Things?

As the independent regulator of the Data Protection Act, the Information Commissioner’s Office, is well placed to advise companies on how these devices can comply with the law. But equally, it is important that the public has an understanding of how this technology works and what it means for you. We hope that this blog provides you with a basic understanding of a term that you will no doubt be hearing about in the coming months and years.

If the Internet of Things is to enter our homes it is important that the privacy implications of these devices are fully understood. Consumers buying a new device are increasingly having to factor in terms and conditions of service, as well as the pure technical specifications of the equipment itself. The Which? research has shown that manufacturers need to do more to keep people informed, but we can all play our part by asking the right questions about the services provided.

a-patersonAndrew Paterson became Senior Technology Officer at the ICO in November 2012. His main areas of work are advising colleagues on information security aspects of complaints and data breach investigations, and research on how new developments in technology might impact information rights.

Last updated 21/08/2014 14:00