The Internet of Things and its trials and tribulations

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle

Data specialist Mark Rittman spent an entire day attempting to set up his new appliance so that it would boil on command and it just did not want to cooperate.

All that wanted was a cup of tea but little did he realize that he would have to spend eleven hours waiting for his new hi-tech kettle to boil the water.

Mr. Rittman, who is a data specialist living on the English south coast, set out trying to make a cup of tea with his Wi-Fi enabled kettle at around nine in the morning. But it was not long before he ran into trouble with said kettle

Three hours later the kettle was still having problems with the main issue apparently being that the base station was unable, for some reason, to communicate with the kettle itself.

It would appear that the key problem to Mr. Rittman's predicament was that the kettle did not come with software that would have allowed for easy integration with other devices in his home. So he was, therefore, trying to build the integration functionality himself.

Then, after eleven hours, there was a breakthrough in that the kettle started responding to voice control. And then, finally, success in that the kettle did what it was meant to be doing, namely boil water.

Because he so nicely shared this escapade on Twitter there were, justifiable, some people who wondered what was wrong with old technology, that is to say using an ordinary electric kettle. That is also the question that I would have asked.

In addition to that the trials and tribulations of Mark Rittman should, I think, give us all some food for thought as to why anyone would want to use Wi-Fi enabled kettle (and other devices) in the home, aside from the computer and printer, and such. And that is aside from any security and privacy issues that could come with those devices and the connection of them directly to the Internet.

Many of the devices of the Internet of Things are actually communicating with third parties and your Wi-Fi speakers, for instance, could actually be listening to you and transmitting what they hear to some party that you many not wish to know everything.

The same goes for your smart fridge, or other appliance that also is, via Wi-Fi, part of the Internet of Things, and let's not even talk about the smart meters, though they may not be inside your home to spy on you directly. The latter, however,can be used in other ways to spy on you and even shut off your energy use if the suppliers deem this to be appropriate.

Don't misunderstand me, I am no Luddite, but I am more than concerned about this Internet of Things stuff as:

  1. I do not think that we actually need this,

  2. that it may also cause serious problems for users,

  3. that they can be hacked and be used against us,

  4. that they are a threat to privacy

and last but not least

  1. that they will add to the use of energy, of which we are already using too much.

And this list, probably, could be expanded at quite some length, I am sure, but those above are just some of the main concerns that I have, aside from the fact that it also makes us extremely lazy.

Honestly, if you want to boil the kettle can't you just get up, go into the kitchen or wherever, fill the thing with water and switch it on? The same for other appliances, if they need turning on and off, such as the washing machine.

To top it all, and the warnings of that were given by many, it now transpires that the DDoS attacks that crippled a great many sites on the Internet for hours on Friday, October 21, 2016, was created using hacked IoT cameras, and other gadgets. As said, the warnings were sounded by many, also in the IT field, as to this IoT being a dangerous thing and something that could be used to cause crippling attacks. Time, I would say, that we rethought things.

© 2016