Why Our Homes Remain Dumb

Jacob Kastrenakes has a piece over at The Verge called The Dumb State of the Smart Home. It talks about how current ‘smart’ devices aren’t capable of interconnectivity, largely because they don’t talk the same language.

I know a bit about this subject, because I put together some basic home automation myself. Nothing too fancy, mine just controls a lamp, on a timer. Mine’s a bit smarter than the units you plug into the wall because it changes based on sunset as to when it comes on in the evening, and only comes on if sunrise is after a certain time (i.e. it’s dark enough for me to need light) in the mornings.

To do it, I use a standard set of remote control plug sockets, and a USB dongle from a company called Telldus. I use the bottom of their range, which only talks one-way, it doesn’t receive data back. My application, as I said, is very basic.

The Internet of Things seems to have become a growing buzz-phrase this year, after talk of it forever. If it sounds like it’s on the verge of breaking into the mainstream, I can tell you now, it won’t.

Interoperability is certainly one reason. You see, my dongle transmits on 433.92 MHz. As you can see, that makes it compatible with a range of protocols, including X10, the grandfather of them all, having been around since 1975. Z-Wave and ZigBee use 868 Mhz (in Europe), which is another popular frequency. Continue reading