Sure, you often hear of fancy ‘life hacks’ about people who program their smart speaker to turn on a coffee maker or help with math homework. But the stories I get to hear from young people on the experimental edge of the home-based Internet-of-Things (IOT) phenomenon range from the hilarious to the unsettling.
I’ve been writing about IOT for some time now. What gets me is how quickly people appear to want to hand off simple tasks like opening one’s window blinds, or turning on an appliance
“Alexa, turn on the bedroom fan!”
And then there’s the not-so-funny side to having an app for everything. Just take a look at the recent lawsuits and missteps by tech companies.
- Apple’s Facetime eavesdropping bug
- Google Nest’s hidden microphone
- Alexa eavesdrops on Portland, Oregon family
- Mom discovers baby monitor camera was being moved
- Many popular apps secretly send data to Facebook (even if you don’t have a FB page!)
The baby monitor story is scary. A mother discovered to her horror that the baby monitor “was slowly panning over across the room to where our bed was and stopped.” That’s just one of the ‘things” we want our smart homes connected to.
How about door locks? You can’t make this stuff up: A man wearing a Batman T-shirt was locked out of his home in September last year when his Yale lock, combined with his Nest security system thought he was an intruder. The man was in a Batman T-shirt. The ‘smart’ doorbell identified the cartoon character and tried to be too smart for the man’s liking. Sound a lot like the command, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Poor Dave was locked out with, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that!”
A side note on Facebook sneaky habit. As explained at Endgadget, “Privacy International study has determined that ‘at least’ 20 out of 34 popular Android apps are transmitting sensitive information to Facebook without asking permission, including Kayak, MyFitnessPal, Skyscanner and TripAdvisor. I don’t trust Mark Zuckerberg anymore. Neither his recent statement, nor his other numerous apologies. (Check last year’s apology!) Which is another reason why I quit FB earlier this month.