I think projects like this one are cool hacks, but nothing more. It’s making two trending devices to talk to each other. Google’s Glass may become a revolutionary piece of technology, but I think that using them to control every smart device of the internet of things is useless. We should use them to interact with our environment.
There is something broken in current trends of home automation. It’s the urge to make every piece of technology to be smart in itself.
Most domotic appliances that have become popular in recent years are smart devices connected to the internet with their own web interface and embedded OS.
- Lockitron is a door lock with Wifi and Bluetooth
- Nest is a thermostat with Wifi and leaning capabilities
- Hue is a multi-color light bulb connected to the internet
- LIFX is a multi-color light bulb with Wifi
The worst are those that need to be be connected to the manufacturer’s servers. Some have open APIs or can be programmed directly on the device, but they still are complex pieces of technology for simple on/off (e.g.: a door lock) or gradated (e.g.: adjustment of light or temperature) tasks.
When every component of your environment is smart, it’s the environment itself that becomes dumber. For the environment to be smart, it must be composed of multiple simple elements of 3 kinds: interfaces, controllers and sensors. These elements must:
- do one thing and to it well
- be ubiquitous and hidden in the environment
- use simple components
- use open protocols
- be centrally controlled, ideally by a central server in the home without every components that communicate directly to the manufacturer server via the internet
If a device use simple enough electronics to only do what it need to do and all the logic is performed by a central controller, these appliances can be produced cheaply and then really be ubiquitous.
These devices must get out of the way and let the environment react to various input collected from everywhere instead of configuring each device to react to their own sensors.
Still, I hardly imagine how the home automation field can gain more consumer adoption without plug&play devices like those. We need to build on those trendy inventions and to fast forward to the next step of home automation and smart environment.