Amazon has added a department to their giant site: Home Automation. There you can purchase a wide variety of kits and products to control anything from your home’s lighting to its heating and cooling system, from remote operation of household appliances to opening your front door. Security lock manufacturers are bringing to market a host of keyless entry systems that are operated via a Bluetooth fob and/or from the ubiquitous smart phone app.
This automated entry technology is the newest product niche for the billion dollar security alarm industry. Walk within a few feet of your front door which upon recognizing you via GPS unlocks for you. The in laws arriving for a visit? Set them up with a digital key.
This growth in automation has spawned products that organize and control these automated products. Revolv is a product that promises to unify all your devices: thermostats, speakers, lights, locks, sensors and more to control them all from a single smart phone app.
Speaking of smart phones, really, they are getting too big for us. Consumers are demanding hands free access to computing tools. Smart watches provide almost everything one would want in a smart phone. Some are predicting that smart watches are the next consumer must have. Google’s Project Glass is their foray into wearable computing. These “smart goggles” promise to integrate Google services and smart phone applications into a tool that further pushes productivity.
As cool as these gadgets are, and as convenient the tools they provide us, this trend is also worrisome. Having my entire life networked means that my entire life can be hacked. That I assume few hackers would be interested in my life per se, is insufficient consolation. For every device that comes on the market, there is a hacker somewhere in the world plotting a way to penetrate it. Passwords and crypt keys just don’t seem to be enough; it’s too hard to keep ahead of the bad guys. Biometrics offers some solution, albeit imperfect. My laptop has a fingerprint reader. The iphone 5s comes with Touch ID. These offer another security layer and that is helpful. To try and meet the demand for stronger security, Bionym is soon introducing Nymi, a rubber bracelet which uses your unique heart beat wave which it senses via an embedded ECG sensor to authenticate ID.
Does the convenience that our various smart devices afford us outweigh the potential security dangers?
At this point, the Jetsons are starting to look passé…