Smart Homes

What is a “Smart Home?” You might be thinking of the 1999 Disney Channel Original movie, Smart House– and you wouldn’t actually be too far off. You might not have an extremely advanced AI to “mom” you and eventually go crazy, but you would have an intricate system of programs and sensors to predict your desires.

Not quite.

For example–you set your alarm to 7:30. As you wake up and turn the alarm off, your clock sends a signal to your coffee maker–which starts to make your daily cup of joe–so that it will be prepared by the time you walk into your kitchen.

While you’re driving to work, sensors in the bridge send a message to your car: it’s icy; slow down. Should you choose not to, the car will slow down for you as you go across the ice. As you near a stoplight, it takes note that you’re the only car at the intersection and turns to green. While you park your car, your office turns on.

This system of programmable sensors interacting with other devices is commonly referred to as the “Internet of Things”… Essentially, everything is connected to the Internet. So many of the simple actions in your life can be reduced to simple “if, then” statements. If I leave the room, then I will turn the lights off. If it starts to rain, then I will close the windows.

If two exams are on the same day, then I will order sushi and get coffee.

These things, in the “Sensor Revolution” as some call it, could easily be automated. That’s where the future is headed–already. As more and more people own smartphones, companies have been searching for innovative ways to incorporate it into their products. Fitbits are already connected to your phone and computer, offering amazing details from everything to your step rates to your sleep cycles. Even certain shoes by Nike include sensors in their soles to give you more accurate information.

So yes, you might not have a hologram mother in your home (spoilers for the end of Smart House), but you’re guaranteed to never lose your keys again–because your smart phone will just find them for you.

So what do you think, readers? Sound cool? Personally, I’m a little more cautious. While this will certainly make life easier, I’m worried about the repercussions of having all our objects connected. Mainly, how will this impact our security?

Take for instance, a case that happened recently. A hacker manipulated a security flaw in baby cameras, and proceeded to yell expletives at the sleeping children, waking them up. Even more alarming is that a recent line of cars were released with a software exploit that allowed hackers to remotely control your car–including your steering and brakes.

We’re leaving ourselves open to catastrophic attacks–and that’s terrifying. As we move forward with the Internet of Things,  we must be far more cautious than we are already. So readers, what do you think? Do you want to be connected and have the ease of access that the Internet of Things will allow us, or do you err on the more cautious side?

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4 thoughts on “Smart Homes

  1. While I understand how this advancement in sensor technology and “connection of everything” can have extremely negative effects, I value the advancement it will have in society. Without change, our society will live in a perpetual state of the past, being surpasses by other Countries and societies that are willing to advance technologically. If something like this were to take place, there would need to be infinite precautions to avoid the detrimental effects of a hacker or something of the sort. As you mentioned, it could be very dangerous if things went wrong and the sensor system did not work as planned or if someone tampered with the system and people could be at risk or in danger of losing their lives, but simultaneously, think about all the lives that not only would be benefited, but saved from this technology which would eliminate life threatening situations such as car accidents and losing traction on the road. There are valid arguments on both sides I agree, but it is evident to me that the benefits of this advancement in technology outweigh the negative impact that it possibly could bring if it fails.

  2. With the advancement of technology and its increasing complexity, we find ourselves more vulnerable to system bugs and holes in computer security. People with bad intentions and the willpower will find ways around firewalls and its security counterparts. But is the risk of being exposed to unwanted persons worth the ease and extra time that advancing offers? Of course, that depends on the person. We have so many options nowadays; someone could buy a blackberry phone to secure themselves from being exposed to unwelcome observer or buy more popular phones for ease of use or even the multitude of apps offered. The need for security all depends on the person, and most of the time, it is worth the cost of your equipment being hacked into for the higher quality of living technology offers.

  3. Pingback: Month of Hacks | The SAS Honors Program Blog

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