Without realizing it, and without specifically trying to embrace it, it seems that my home is being taken over by the Internet of Things. I have TVs, air conditioners, and lights that are all connected to the network and controlled remotely. It might not be the Jetson's home just yet, but given that I haven't purchased any of these devices because of their network connectivity, the range of IoT devices I have surrounded myself with is quite surprising.
Which then makes me wonder, why my home is not like the Jetson's? I have all these devices that all have the capacity to be intelligently integrated into my life, and yet I don't really feel like the IoT devices in my home are adding much value. Which is not what the hype is saying should be the case.
The unfortunate truth is that the only real change that the IoT has brought is that I can replace half a dozen remote controls with half a dozen apps on my phone. These apps don't integrate, they don't look similar, and they don't act similar. For the most part they quite literally replace a long black stick covered in buttons with a swipeable panel that presents the same collection of buttons.
It seems that manufacturers are in a race to the bottom with their IoT offerings, and in the process have not given any real thought to such esoteric things as security:
Tentler told Ars that webcam manufacturers are in a race to bottom. Consumers do not perceive value in security and privacy. As a rule, many have not shown a willingness to pay for such things. As a result, webcam manufacturers slash costs to maximize their profit, often on narrow margins. Many webcams now sell for as little as £15 or $20.
"The consumers are saying 'we're not supposed to know anything about this stuff [cybersecurity]," he said. "The vendors don't want to lift a finger to help users because it costs them money."
If security is not even a concern, then you can bet that APIs and interoperability are barely on the radar. Indeed, when I went looking for documentation of SDKs so I could control my IoT landscape for myself, there was precious little support to be found. The best I could find was a Github repo that contained a reverse engineered API for my TV. There was nothing in the way of official documentation or code examples.
My dreams of being able to walk through the front door and have my home respond intelligently to my presence is actually no closer to reality despite the fact that a good number of the devices I own could (in theory) be coordinated via a central app. But my particular combination of devices is so unique and so disconnected that I'm still left to manually operate each of them via their own individual remote control app.
It seems that manufacturers have solved the problem of creating low cost, network enabled devices. Now all we need is some kind of agreement on how all these devices should be operated, because there is so much more potential to the IoT than just consolidating remote controls onto a mobile phone.