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The Internet of Things: Your worst nightmare

Preston Gralla | July 8, 2015
Is life really going to be easier when you can’t use your toothbrush because it’s lost its Internet connection?

Eventually I found the solution, which required using an undocumented maneuver: turning off the printer, opening its cover, holding the Cancel and Continue buttons down simultaneously, turning the printer back on while still holding down the buttons and eventually releasing them. Not exactly intuitive.

So days after installing the new network, all the things in my house that needed to be connected to the Internet finally worked.

Now imagine this same scenario in the age of the IoT. You replace an old router with a new one. Your refrigerator, oven, microwave, light bulbs, heating system, air conditioner, door locks, security system, and even your toothbrushes (yes, there are already network-connected toothbrushes) were all connected to your old network. Now you need to connect them to your new one. Their Internet connections will certainly be afterthoughts, with little attention paid to help people troubleshoot them. There will be no common operating system for them, no standard way to connect and disconnect. After all, if engineers can't even make it easy to connect a printer designed to work on a network, how easy do you think it will be to connect your stove?

You may think that a solution might be simply not to connect your devices to a network. But there's no guarantee that they'll work without a connection, or that you won't lose your warranty if you don't keep them connected. And I'm not even talking right now about all the problems you'll face connecting them in the first place.

Once upon a time, being your home's IT director meant knowing how to troubleshoot one or two PCs. Then you had to learn how to troubleshoot wireless networks. After that came smartphones and tablets. Soon it will be every device you own. How many hours do you think you'll be spending being your house's IT director in the IoT future? More than you want to spend. Certainly more than I do. Because I have seen the IoT future, and it doesn't work.


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