Member #119477

Member Since: February 9, 2010

Country: United States

  • Not a bad article but is missing a few recent pieces of the jigsaw - namely the arrival of affordable and low power IoT capable devices such as the ESP8266 and ESP32. With these we can package small, low power devices, with a bunch of sense-and-control technologies, and deliver useful devices for a low price. Due to reduced size, we can now integrate these devices into existing homes without additional wiring or holes-in-walls. These days everything I design is intended to be installed by anyone who can use a screw-driver and find their fuse-box.

    The protocols which allow plug-and-play (from multiple manufacturers) are not yet complete, however they are progressing rapidly. So too the situation for security. All of my systems use the equivalent of AES along with automated key management (with continuous key generation). Good luck trying to hack any aspect of my home!

    As an example, I recently designed a solid-state light switch assembly which integrates a thermally isolated temperature and humidity sensor, a smart, multi-sensor PIR device, control for in-room devices (such as HVAC zone control), an OLED touch screen, voice command, with an optional upgrade for AV intercom. The base unit should retail for around $40 and the entire device is designed to fit in place of any existing 2-pole 2-way switch.

    Of course the IoT devices communicate to a server which also acts as a gateway to the internet. In my case this is a 7 inch touch screen which takes the place of your average HVAC control point. This allows remote monitoring, control and communications. However the architecture is able to fail-over to a second gateway or even a router-connected laptop or PC when loaded with the equivalent app. Ultimately the system is able to run independent of the internet albeit with degraded services (I use Alexa etc for voice processing).

    I do not agree with all IoT enabled devices and there are glaring holes. For instance my washing machine will wifi-me when the water filter needs changing. This is a completely useless function because I see the corresponding glaring, flashing message whenever I open the fridge door. I also don't need a camera in my fridge and I especially don't need to be told I've run out of milk. Annoyingly, however, when I went to replace my salt water softener recently, I couldn't find a single one that could IoT me to say the salt was running out or that the system had sprung a leak! Also, with Utilities across America moving to punish home owners who install private solar, any IoT system worth having must integrate some form of load controller to optimize energy use and avoid crippling surcharges (which apply in States such as Arizona).

    I would also like to see appliance manufacturers step up. For instance, my Bosch dishwasher uses two motors, an impeller, two filter screens, a heater, particle detector, a few valves, relays, control board and a bunch of piping. How nice it would be (and how simple to implement) if it could report precisely the cause of any malfunction. I estimated, on my $1800 Bosch, the cost of providing precision fault diagnosis would add around $30 to the build cost of the machine (BOM). This would avoid a double call-out, shorten diagnostic time, and allow the service repair man to arrive with the correct parts, ready to install.

  • There are two significant problems with IoT that have yet to be resolved - security and standardization (including interoperability). In addition, more work needs to be done in terms of retrofit and power management. To be honest I see a huge amount of sloppy design work in IoT and we have some distance to go before it becomes truly indispensable. As for smart phones, I am staggered that no-one has realized what they could do... yet. Just wish I could afford to patent the obvious misses!

No public wish lists :(