Classical home automation used to be easy: You installed your devices at home (or probably rather had them installed by an electrician), wired things up and started using it at home. But then came the smartphone era: The consumer got used to the fact that everything is controllable through an app from anywhere in the world. This expectation did not stop at Smart Home products either, through which a new product category - the "IoT gadgets" - was born.
A very common scheme of how these products work is the following:
There are some obvious drawbacks of such products:
These points alone should be reason enough to consider such products as nice gadgets, but not as a serious (meaning permanent and reliable) part of your house.
But there are even many more subtle drawbacks:
Now what is the solution to all these problems? Well, I like to call it the INTRANET OF THINGS - all your devices should be in your LAN, hidden behind a firewall and locally controlled. All data needs to stay in the local network in the first place and only the user should decide whether it should be shared with somebody else. For remote access, there should be a single channel into your house, not one per device.
An Intranet of Things protects your privacy and reduces vulnerability risks
A solution that allows you to create such an Intranet of Things is openHAB - the open Home Automation Bus. When starting this project 6 years ago, I took the perspective of an end user and not of a company - this is why data privacy is one of the top priorities since its beginning. It is good to see that this discussion is gaining momentum now.
The latest version openHAB 1.4 has just been released - it can now integrate more than 60 different smart Home technologies and protocols into a single solution. Just to name a few, this new release brings support for INSTEON, Netatmo, Pioneer AV receivers and MAX!. New native apps for Android and iOS are available as well. To cater for secure remote access, we have furthermore just started a private beta of a new service: my.openHAB will provide you the ability to connect to your openHAB over the Internet, securely, through commercial SSL certificates, without a need for making any holes in your home router and without a need for a static IP or dynamic DNS service. It does not store any data, but simply acts as a proxy that blindly forwards the communication.
The Eclipse SmartHome framework, which is derived from openHAB, is also a perfect fit for building smart home solutions that follow the "Intranet of Things" idea. We are close to having the first binary builds available of Eclipse SmartHome and work on openHAB 2.0 will start shortly after (as it will be based on Eclipse SmartHome).
So if you are considering to invest in a smart home solution, I hope that this post has brought some important aspects to your attention - let's hope that the IoT does NOT bring the loss of all privacy, but that we will in future see smart homes that fully respect your privacy! If you like the idea of an Intranet of Things, start building one yourself and spread the word!
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