The Internet of (Expensive) Things

by @edent | #

I closed the window before I left for work this morning. I mean… I’m pretty certain I did. It would be crazy to drive back home just to check… No… I did it. Or was that yesterday…

I’m always doing stupid stuff like that. Leaving the fridge door open, forgetting to switch on the washer, having lights on well after sun rise.

How can I use technology to automate away my idiocy?

Let’s take windows and doors. Suppose I want to merely check whether a window or door is physically open. All I need to do (assuming I already have a server, network, and z-wave radio) is buy some window sensors. Easy!

z-wave door sensor

Hang on. They’re THIRTY QUID! EACH!

After a traipse through my family home, I discover that I have 20 separate external doors and windows. I don’t live in a mansion – but all my windows are split into two different sections.

So, if I want my windows to become part of “The Internet of Things” I’m going to be shelling out £600. That’s quite a lot of money. And that’s only for a passive system. It says whether the window is open. It doesn’t look at whether it is locked. It won’t lock or unlock for me.

Suppose I want some smart lightbulbs? The highly desirable Philips Hue Personal Wireless Light Bulbs are FIFTY QUID EACH!

If you’re prepared to risk some off-brand-direct-from-China bulbs, you can pay as little as £30. Each.

Go count the lightbulbs in your home. In my house, it’s 25. A mixture of Edison screws, bayonets, and GU10.

If I were to deck my place out completely in Philips Hue bulbs, I wouldn’t have much change left from £1,250.

Let’s say you want to be able to turn appliances on or off. Or check that they’ve got power.

Thirty quid to you, mate.

Go on, count how many electrical items you’ve got at home. I bet you get bored before you reach £1,000 worth.

Even the items which work solely on proximity are really pricey.

Want iBeacons, so you can try to find lost things in your house?

I couldn’t find any under a tenner
. Even buying in bulk doesn’t seem to make them much cheaper.

NFC tags are about as cheap as you can get in IoT circles.

70p each. Maybe a little less if you’re buying substantial quantities. Quite why you’d want them is another matter.

The Internet Refrigerator is a standing joke in tech circles. For years, we’ve been promised smart fridges which would order our groceries for us and send an alert when the milk is out of date. Turns out, no one thinks that’s a good idea.

But, what I think would be a good idea is a fridge that can text or email me when the door has been left open too long. The cheapest fridge I could find is about £150. Would it really add so much on to the cost to give it a simple WiFi connection and API?

Look, this is what the IoT is competing with…

A bog standard energy saving light bulb is between £2 and £10.
Brand new handles for my windows would cost £4 each.
Regular plug sockets are under a fiver each.

Turns out, the Internet of Things is really only for expensive things.

2 thoughts on “The Internet of (Expensive) Things

  1. I consider products with a monthly fee to be instant obsoletes down the road if the company closes.
    Far too much research needed to find reasonable tools in all the crap ones. Not found it on heating, which should be the easiest!

  2. I was following this OSS project for a while – seems like they have gone Full Consumer Product now. Still not cheap but maybe not evil?…