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Will appliances soon do more than simple talking to each other?

Will appliances soon do more than simple talking to each other?

People often have to be obsessed about something, So the thinking goes.

And it seems at the present we are obsessed with things.

A new study by American design company, Houzz, claims to have deduced that British kitchens are now stuffed with gadgets as we discover a fascination with domestic gadgetry.

  • 44% of us use slow cookers regularly
  • 15% still use fondue kits (what those popular in the 1970s???)
  • 13% use an ice cream maker regularly
  • 20% have installed a top of range oven
  • those over 65 most likely to make that an Aga
  • 18% use pop corn machines
  • 1 in 12 people in Manchester has a hot tub
  • with 4% having one in their bedrooms!
  • People are more likely to paint their houses green than magnolia
  • 60% of Londoners own a barbecue
  • 25% of Cardiff residents have a walk-in pantry.

Apparently, we are now a nation desperate to be surrounded by kitchen and other household objects.

Internet of Things Already

Taking apart the July 2014 edition of Business Technology and its focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), it is easy to conclude that not only has the concept truly taken hold but we are already committed to it fully.

Shane Richmond opened the magazine with the point that the fridge reminding you about low milk supplies is a classic example of IoT annoying you being bossed about by a fridge or pleased to be reminded and a joke.

He said the fridge has now been joined by the washing machine, ‘if you get fed up with text messages that the laundry is done you can always give your washing machine the fridge’s number instead.’

There are around 14 billion internet-connected devices in service today. Cisco reckon in just 6 years from now there will be 50 billion around. Samsung predict that will rise to 1.5 trillion by 2030.

The flood of sensors and trackers will connect more than fridges and washing machines – it will also include thermostats, smoke alarms, door locks, alarms, boilers and ‘pretty much anything else.’

He said, ‘the change in business will be just as extensive.’

Security Risks

The publication points out in several places that the dangers of security failure are high. Proofpoint, a security company, successfully hacked into a fridge to highlight how everything is vulnerable to penetrators, hackers, ransom-demanding crims and blackmailers.

Keil Hubert wrote in that Business Technology to describe how in Texas he is in a programme which allows his private electricity company to ‘turn off our aircon during peak demand for ten minutes every hour’ in exchange for a lower rate all the year round.

He does everything by the security book, ‘actively managing computers for patches, running top-rated ant-virus applications, software firewalls updated immediately when new patches come out, every device backed up to two different sources …’

Yet even he sees the potential danger in what he has allowed – ‘zero control over the security settings on his networked thermostat.’

The Positive Outlook

The other side of the smart meter is that operational costs are reduced for many things and new revenue streams are identified. Queue prediction and heating controls in physical stores are the simplest examples of the IoT at work.

The logistics of deliveries with calculations combining weather, traffic flows, accidents/maintenance and special event data are improving all the time. There is a case for more businesses to wake up to the possibilities.

Even the Government is awake to the issues. Digital Government Review – Digital Britain 2015 is looking at ‘how technology can improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of people-powered public services.’

Chi Onwurah MP argued that IoT will probably ‘give rise to the biggest transformation to the way we live since electricity….’

That’s a heady claim.

Other recent blogs you might want to look at:

Is Disillusion With Technology Enough to Justify Suicide? 17 June 2014

Wondering and Speculating What the Internet Will Look Like in 2025, 16 June 2014

Domestic Robots Are But a Few Months Away from Rescuing Us, 25 March 2014

A Helpful Update on Big Data and Its Uses, 19 March 2014

Shining a Light on the Digital Dark Age That May Be Coming, 17 February 2014

Open Data Is Bigger Than Big Data Once It’s Released, 4 February 2014

Are Friends That We Only Communicate With Digitally, Actually Real Friends At All? 12 November 2013

Has Technology and All Its Devices Become Too Much of a Good Thing? 30 October 2013

Image: Susie Shapira, FEMA