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4/21/2014
09:06 AM
Shane O'Neill
Shane O'Neill
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8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home

Meet George Jetson: From wireless door locks to scales that measure more than weight, these connected devices take your domicile digital.
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A new day is dawning for those of you who've dreamed of being both more efficient and lazier with your household gadgets and appliances.

The barriers to entry for the "connected home" fall as the IoT (Internet of Things) vision comes to life. Network bandwidth is widely available, and traditional home appliances are being rebuilt to connect to the Internet via WiFi and other wireless protocols. Smartphones and tablets double as remote controls for appliances ranging from light bulbs to thermostats to speakers.

You're forgiven if you think this seems a bit highbrow. Are these smart appliances really necessary? The answer is no, and they're probably not even affordable for most folks (although some are cheaper than their traditional alternatives). Sure, it's easier just to vacuum the damn rug yourself with a Dirt Devil than to buy and program a robot to do it. And there's no good reason to replace the old Kenmore with Samsung's latest $3,000, WiFi-enabled refrigerator.

But smart home appliances will only get more intuitive and affordable. Things that seemed ridiculous five years ago, like owning a 70-inch HD TV or tapping your iPhone to fill your house instantly with music, are now feasible as technology improves, prices drop, and your current equipment starts to cough dust.

For better or worse, we're a society that loves its portable gadgets and the information they contain. As shown by the enthusiasm for smartphones, activity trackers, and wearable technology, we like having data at our fingertips, and we like making better predictions and decisions. Your home appliances generate a lot of data.

While this slideshow looks at individual appliances and their WiFi capabilities, service providers like AT&T (Digital Life), Verizon (Home Monitoring & Control), and Comcast (Xfinity Home) are seizing the moment with smart home packages that include the appliances and corresponding mobile apps to manage home security, temperature, and lights. Samsung has also created a connected home ecosystem with its new "Smart Home" service. As with any technology movement, it'll be a battle of the best ecosystem.

But don't feel you have to buy up AT&T equipment and commit to monthly fees. You don't have to assemble a connected home in one fell swoop. For now, see what aging appliances in your humble abode can be replaced with a smart appliance that will produce some helpful data, allow remote access via smartphone apps, send you alerts, and make your home life just a little easier.

Read on for a list of standout smart home devices available now.

Shane O'Neill is Managing Editor for InformationWeek. Prior to joining InformationWeek, he served in various roles at CIO.com, most notably as assistant managing editor and senior writer covering Microsoft. He has also been an editor and writer at eWeek and TechTarget. ... View Full Bio

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Some Guy
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Some Guy,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2014 | 11:41:23 AM
Re: I Prefer Dumb Robots to Smart Houses
Not sure how these robots qualify as Internet of Things. OK they are things. But they aren't on the Internet.

One thing I'll take issue with in your article is the claim about it fulfilling the vision of the Internet of Things. They aren't. There is no vision, other than the prediction that 50 Billion devices will have IP addresses by 2020 -- and only ~4 Billion of those will have a human behind it.

The objection is this: there is no vision, just a bunch of market experiments happening in parallel. It's an emergent design, and we may be able to string enough of the successes together in ten years to claim a vision. But that's an after-the-fact, revisionist view that belies the number of failures that will occur in the interim and will be "conveniently" omitted (from the "Plot the curve, and throw out the data points that don't fit" approach).
Some Guy
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Some Guy,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2014 | 11:24:15 AM
Re: Business Model for wearables
And if an insurance company *gave* you the device and $200 off a year for your health insurance? (Because they saved $1,000 a year.)

Just a matter of finding the motivations and creating the deal you value. I expect that somewhere between what you are already paying for health insurance and $0 there is a number that enough folks will find it makes sense for them. Certainly for the baby boomers who could avoid weekly office visits if they were "remotely" monitored by their doctors. Throw in some disposable income with retirement, and voila: market. And that's just one value vector.
asharpe381
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asharpe381,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2014 | 11:57:26 AM
Serious Security Conserns - Must be Well Thought Out
There are some serious security concerns with home automation. Many home automation devices have already been demonstrated to have holes now that can allow intruders complete access. That means access to your schedule, access to your web cams, access to things you do not want for an attacker to know about.

For example, the Belkin WeMo and Netcraft devices are not authenticating SSL certifications.

Well thought through encryption and security can be done so it is completely secure, but I don't think "they" are doing it.

Consumers, and magazines like InformationWeek, need to put pressure on the companies so they design the security according to best practice.

If you are interested listen to: http://media.GRC.com/sn/SN-443.mp3

... and read articles like: www.ioactive.com/pdfs/IOActive_Belkin-advisory-lite.pdf‎

I think the author of this article did not do his due diligence when he did not mention the security concerns. Fluff pieces are barely more than advertising.

ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/22/2014 | 4:57:18 PM
Re: Another smart scale worth mentioning
A subscription fee for a door lock? I've been wrong before about the appetite for people to pay subscriptions, but that doesn't seem like a mass market business model.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
4/21/2014 | 8:04:11 PM
Re: Another smart scale worth mentioning
It is surprising to see this change take place so quickly. A short time ago, a company was not a company if it did not have a website. However, there were still some companies out there that did not have a website and were still functioning. Today, a company is not a company if it does not have a social media presence, connected smart products and using the latest technology -- if none of these are present then consumers begin to wonder whether the company has gone bankrupt.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/21/2014 | 4:05:37 PM
Re: I Prefer Dumb Robots to Smart Houses
The Deebot D77 featured in this slideshow has advanced sensors so it doesn't tumble down stairs, smack into a table leg, or vacuum over an electrical cord. Legos and pencils, however, are probably not safe from harm.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/21/2014 | 3:54:38 PM
Re: Another smart scale worth mentioning
Is there a business model that makes sense for wearables? When you actually ask people to decide whether they want to pay a monthly subscription for health monitoring, I suspect few will want to add yet another recurring fee.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
4/21/2014 | 1:15:41 PM
Re: I Prefer Dumb Robots to Smart Houses
We've got a Shepherd/Lab mix, plus two boys, so the Roomba has its work cut out for it. I always do a pre-check to make sure it won't choke on Legos, pencils, Nerf darts, ear buds, etc.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
4/21/2014 | 1:01:32 PM
Re: I Prefer Dumb Robots to Smart Houses
In my house it was Roomba vs. Labrador fur and the fur won. The machine has to be emptied often, during one round of cleaning, so it proves less convenient than I had hoped. But there is plenty of room yet for automating housework.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/21/2014 | 12:24:27 PM
Re: Another smart scale worth mentioning
I just went all in with the Nike+ ecosystem so I was disappointed to hear they're killing the Fuelband line. I suppose they're realizing hardware will take care of itself through iPods, smartphones and smartwatches, and they should focus on software. I don't think the Nike+ platform needs to be a completely holistic health platform. They cater to athletes and fitness fanatics so fitness measurement will be enough as long as they're the best at it. They'll have to stretch beyond being a sportswear company, but these days every company is a tech company.
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