Talking Siloes and Security with MIT Technology Review

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“Most of the connected home products on show at CES and available on the market today aren’t yet able to link up to those systems. And other companies made announcements at the show suggesting they plan to go it alone, releasing ranges of smart home gadgets only compatible with each other…

Shane Dyer, CEO of Arrayent, which develops connected home technology used in products from brands including Maytag and Whirlpool, told MIT Technology Review he believed that pressure from consumers would ensure that it becomes easier to use connected devices from different companies together.

“There’s a lot of big siloed systems right now, but that’s just how it will start out,” he said. “People get frustrated if there are five, six, or seven apps to control their home.”

Dyer’s company is committed to making it possible to hook up different products and systems in the interest of making home automation widely used, he said.

Another major challenge for home automation is security, with researchers having demonstrated sometimes spectacular failings in the security of smart home products… None of the companies—bar those peddling door locks—were keen to discuss the issue at CES, and integrating multiple devices into control hubs potentially worsens the risks of a security breach having serious consequences.

Dyer acknowledges those risks, saying that one way of reducing them is to make connected devices relatively simple, so there is less for attackers to target, and so successful attacks have limited impact. Some high-profile companies are heading in a different direction. For example, the founders of Nest boast that their Wi-Fi connected thermostat has similar internals to a smartphone…

“We’re the anti-Nest,” says Dyer. “We tell our customers that a thing should remain a thing and have just enough connectivity to talk to the cloud, not be a full computer, because those are not easy to secure.”