At Embedded Technology conference here, NXP executive broached the touchy topic of “smart home delays.”
Given that the Internet of Things has become the biggest growth driver for semiconductors, the electronics industryâ€™s love affair with IoT wonâ€™t be breaking up anytime soon. Except maybe with the whole idea of smart homes.
Some chip vendors are finally acknowledging â€“ publicly â€“ what weâ€™ve suspected all along:
IoT is great for businesses angling to benefit from big data collection. But, really, whatâ€™s in it for us, the lowly consumers?
Denis Noel, lead product manager of IoT Security at NXP Semiconductors, came to the Embedded Technology 2016 conference in Yokohama this week. In his speech entitled â€œThe IoT tipping point â€“ are we there yet?,â€ Noel broached the touchy topic of â€œsmart home delays.â€
Iâ€™ve been through the hype cycle forÂ connected thermostats, smart lighting and connected door bells. I go back to the days when Microsoft tried to introduce a UI software named Â â€œBob.â€ So it was refreshing to hear the NXP executive pose a more than rhetorical question: â€œWhat about the benefits for consumers?â€
Mind you, Noel is NXPâ€™s security expert. Thatâ€™s what he is selling here.
Still, he raises a legitimate issue about smart homes. Beyond giving consumers the ability to turn lights on and off via smartphones, what else is there? â€œA lot of players [in the IoT space] overlooked the consumer experience,â€ Noel noted.
15 connected devices on 7 apps
He talked about a colleague â€” letâ€™s call him Bob â€” who spent his own money to install 15 devices for his so-called smart home. These gadgets ranged from a smart thermostat to smart lights, intelligent door locks and high-IQ security cameras.
Each one ran on a different app. So Bob ended up juggling, on his smartphone, â€œseven different apps,â€ from Appleâ€™s Homekit to Samsungâ€™s SmartThings to control 15 connected IoT devices.
The end result? You guessed it. One frustrated spouse married to a geek husband who outsmarted himself.
Each connected device must go through a commissioning process in the home network. Bob was surprised to find out that each smart lightbulb he installed lit up in the sequence in which he had screwed it in.
[Insert your own lightbulb joke here.]
Finding out your so-called smart home is not so smart after all would be a huge letdown for most consumers, especially after spending some 40 hours in installation (in the case of Bob).
Hackers getting aggressive
It turns out concerns expressed by 47 percent of consumers who cited â€œprivacy risk/security concernsâ€ as a barrier to IoT adoption in the Accenture report released earlier this year reflect verifiable problems.
Look no further than a series of attacks on the Internetâ€™s infrastructure last month, causing shutdowns in major services such as Twitter, Spotify and PayPal for many users around the world.
IoT security is no longer just a nightmare. Itâ€™s out there.
The attacks targeted Dyn, a company that helps people connect to websites, with a huge amount of traffic in an attempt to knock the service offline, the firm explained last month. The incident exposed the critical vulnerability of IoT. Some of the traffic that attacked Dyn came from ordinary compromised IoT devices like webcams and home gateways connected to the Internet.
Noel said, â€œTwo years ago, people [developing IoT devices] didnâ€™t think about security.â€
Hackers are becoming more aggressive. We now know that an army of vulnerable gadgets took down the Web. More important, hackers donâ€™t need to be highly skilled to replicate attacks. They can mimic and piggyback on other hackersâ€™ work, NXP explained.
Next page: Completely unexploited