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What is it all about

What is it all about

(OP)

Trying to grasp the idea of this forum and connect it with my own feeling that this is a hot trend important to follow up, I fell back to the Wikipedia definition : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things

More important developments than we can imagine are just now cropping up, hidden in 'regular' programs from 'whereabouts' worldwide of containers and packages under transport/delivery, to tracking sheep and cattle on pasture, tracking tagging wildlife as wolfs and bears, to onshore running of offshore platforms with each single instrument and component 'reporting back'. Including also important improvements in following up and tracking whereabouts of engineering 'hardware' (trucks, diggers, cranes down to manual working tools) and records and reports of performance of solutions and changes.

Seeing the lack of interest, Dave, I am just as disappointed as you might be.

What now?

RE: What is it all about

gerhardl,

I think there are two issues here. I think that the Internet of Things (IoT) is the current, cool technology buzzword. This is as opposed to some systematic body of knowledge that we can study, that we can be experts on, and that is useful.

The second issue is the skepticism that a lot of people are feeling. When I hear about the IoT coming to appliances in my house, I keep thinking about how badly I want my appliances broadcasting across the internet. I have just been through a session of computer security training. We were told that Target stores were hacked through their air conditionong. How badly did Target need its air conditioning remote controlled, and how much money did it save? What will it cost Target to fix all the credit card breaches?

Target could have avoided this mess with better network topology, but technology decisions like this are not always made by qualified people. This is especially true when the technology is cool and fashionable.

--
JHG

RE: What is it all about

As the comic books say, with great power comes great responsibility. There's definitely great potential for controlling every little thing in your house. But, hackers abound. The only saving grace may be that we're all small fry targets, suitable only for script babies, because the serious hackers are interested in big targets like Target.

BTW, on reading the article, it's clear that it was not internet-connected A/C that got breached, but rather, the hackers got into Target's contractor billing and payment system by hacking the HVAC contractor's computers. Note, however, Target's data was only protected with triple DES, which, in the best case, is less than half the key length AES 256.

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: What is it all about

(OP)

Thank you drawoh and IRstuff for your answers, bringing up the question of hacking protection as well as the difficulty trying to systematize and comment in general about a vast field without firm borders.

I think the discussion probably has come be down to single cases, as you both do here.

With all new data use, directions of development will be multitude and in all directions, as if pointed out by the pins of a porcupine, and not all as well protected as the porcupine, and not all as useful to the user.

One example: Automated solutions for 'home and cottage' exists, and new will be found. Some will be useful. In our cold climate (Scandinavia) phoning up your cottage to pre start automated heating before you arrive is well known and already quite common. On the other hand 'over-automated' steering of ventilation and heating might well not be the best solutions for smaller homes. (I see the protests coming!)

For the very wide area of possible technological and practical use described with the 'buzz-word' and 'fuzzy-logic definition' Internet of Things, it is difficult to see all the development coming around the corner.

The failed solutions reminds me of one of the suggested earlier uses of PC's: keeping track record of what is in your freezer. Of course quite possible, but much more easy and faster just to open and have a look.

It will always be this way. It is difficult to foresee technical solutions and use. As an example from Science Fiction of the 1960's the hero is coming down from the moon returning in a passenger ferry (possible), jumping onto the moving pavement (realized), taking an automated taxi (soon fully realized) and then going into a phone-booth (totally missing target here...!)...

Good luck to us all in the future...!

RE: What is it all about

IRstuff,

I have been hacked at home. I am sure it was a script of some sort, and they had no way or time to figure out how important I am. That I caught it immediately was good luck, not good management.

I mentioned network topology. If Target's air conditioning had had its own separate network, there would have been no connection to the credit cards. The people who locked down the financial stuff had no idea of who had access.

Articles on setting up home firewalls emphasize locking down everything you don't thoroughly understand. Unless our schools are willing to provide extensive courses for every, single student on network administration, security must be dumbed down. IF you are not absolutely sure it is safe, disable it.

At home for example, if my stove-top burners are on anything higher than simmer, I don't leave the kitchen. If something happens, I am standing there watching. I don't want me remote controlling this stuff.

How badly do I need remote access to my production line? What am I willing to pay to get it? Let's add security and risk management to all this. The alternative to all this is to ensure the people in your factory are competent and professional, and then trust them.

--
JHG

RE: What is it all about

To me, it's just a buzz word like "the cloud". Both are nothing new, just new buzz words to make them sound like a wonderful new idea.

The industries/commercial ventures that want their "things" network connected or monitored already do so. You'd have seen a case if you've ever worked for a city in their water department where everything in the system ties back into their SCADA system and can be controlled from a control room. Companies operating in areas like the Alberta oil sands already have all their equipment networked. Trucking companies already monitor and track their trucks in real time. My tenant was hauling cigarettes and the state police get called to find the truck if he stops without logging the stop into the computer. So, the people who want it have already figured it out. Sure, it'll keep getting smaller and simpler, but that's the same as most other technologies.

As for at home. The majority of people do not need stuff in their home network connected. Stuff like lights and blinds could be, but that is to be vain wanting home enhancing or beautifying computer controlled lighting effects more than having the fancy lighting out of necessity. I could see the furnace being connected for certain users and applications. For my house, I don't see point because my schedule is the same each day and I can just press the damn buttons otherwise. Clocks make sense so they could synchronize their time to say the NTP servers. Funny though that it's been possible to wifi a clock for years now and yet that type of clock doesn't have any significant presence in the market.

An interesting application I know of is a certain inverter for solar panel arrays. The setup is an inverter per panel and they all network connect back to a server that logs their data. You can then lookup the data of the array and then narrow down to the output data from each inverter. Lets you know if they are all working, if a corner gets blocked at some time during the day (say a tree growing near the array), how well the array is performing and other such data. But once again, it's been done and has been around for years so nothing new.

You talk about tracking. Mostly bar codes are in use and knowing the location of a vehicle or building the package last enters is more than good enough. Having a RFID tag would serve the purpose as well as the bar code. One day there will likely be a tagging ability for each package, but it would likely require support equipment in all the trucks/planes/buildings that it could access before you could expect it to reliably pin-point and relay back it's location. GPS maybe, but that would not pinpoint info like what conveyor or which truck it was on.

I'm not saying the idea is useless, just that I see the idea as being used more as technology moving forward allowing ideas like the above to be easier. I just don't see the reality of this explosion where ever little thing around you gets an internet connection like some people are claiming will happen.

RE: What is it all about

"For my house, I don't see point because my schedule is the same each day and I can just press the damn buttons otherwise. Clocks make sense so they could synchronize their time to say the NTP servers. Funny though that it's been possible to wifi a clock for years now and yet that type of clock doesn't have any significant presence in the market."

That may be true, but a computerized system could determine whether people are present or not, and change the settings automatically. Likewise, the standard thermostat is either cool or heat, but not both. We're just in the season where certain days are hot, while others are cold, and it would be nice if the thermostat could figure on its own what to do.

As for clocks, there's still WWV, which does not require wiring or internet.

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: What is it all about

Quote (IRstuff)



That may be true, but a computerized system could determine whether people are present or not, and change the settings automatically. Likewise, the standard thermostat is either cool or heat, but not both. We're just in the season where certain days are hot, while others are cold, and it would be nice if the thermostat could figure on its own what to do.

...

These are (or can be) microprocessor controlled devices. There is no need for the internet, or even a local intranet to control them. Gerhardl mentions the use of telephones to remote control the heating of cottages. Probably, this is way more secure than having an open internet port on your home network.

My wall clocks at home are electric and powered by AA batteries. Once a year when I change the batteries, I correct the time.

--
JHG

RE: What is it all about

IRstuff,

One could use a War Games autodialer to search for interesting telephones. How many computers these days have functioning modems? If you find something other than a modem waiting for a phone call, how do you tell it is something interesting?

Security through obsolescence.

--
JHG

RE: What is it all about

(OP)

To all:

I am satisfied by creating a discussion in this forum.

Thank you for all answers and viewpoints! Interesting to see the discussion ending in a discussion of safety and protection.

This alone deserves a start in a new thread. Let us go for that!



RE: What is it all about

"That may be true, but a computerized system could determine whether people are present or not, and change the settings automatically. Likewise, the standard thermostat is either cool or heat, but not both. We're just in the season where certain days are hot, while others are cold, and it would be nice if the thermostat could figure on its own what to do.

As for clocks, there's still WWV, which does not require wiring or internet."


As I said, "for my house". Ever seen a NEST thermostat? occupancy sensor is already done and it's not requiring some IoT development.

As for WWV, sure that technology has been around for a long time too but they're a majority seller in the clock market either. I also had WWV clocks in hand before and they never seemed to work around here, likely due to poor reception.

RE: What is it all about

gerhardl,

I don't want to leave the impression that I am down on the technology. It is the jargon that bothers me. If you have something you want to observe or control remotely, the internet or your local intranet are convenient solutions. That's all the IoT is.

The IoT is just ethernet and wireless networking. There is no technical problem adding networking capability to anything that has a processor attached to it. You could build a checklist for something you want remotely observable or controlled...

  1. What is the easiest way to connect to my device, ethernet, my own proprietary cable, a long steel bar with a handle on the end?
  2. If the device is visible only on my local network, do I understand firewalls well enough to keep it local?
  3. At work, do my system administrators know I installing this stuff? This is a common security screw up.
  4. How willing am I to share access to the device? Anybody within three meters? Anyone on my local network? Anybody, anywhere?
  5. Risk management: What can a bad person do with access to my device? Is there anything else on the network that should not be exposed to an open port?

--
JHG

RE: What is it all about

(OP)

Drawoh: Well stated! I will give you a star for that one!

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