Downsides to Having a Smart Home

Downsides to Having a Smart Home

Here on MakeTechEasier we’ve covered the concept of a smart home before. That was in 2014. Now it’s 2016, and we’re coming closer than ever to the ideal of a smart home. In fact it’s already happening with the release of the Amazon Echo and the announcement of Google Home!

Unfortunately, this is where we have to start talking about the concerns raised by this sort of technology. Knowing my track record you can probably see where this is going.

smart home concerns - smartphones

With the introduction of smartphones, the category of smart devices was born. Smart devices are usually used to refer to tablets and smartphones, but in this context, I’ll redefine them as small, wireless devices capable of wireless communication and advanced processing. That’s the idea of a smart home: with enough smart devices linked together, you can have the digital home of the future.

Smart devices for the home have been coming out for some time now. They can do things like perform surveillance or monitor your home for leaks or high humidity. But where you’re putting all of this power into digital devices, you’re putting just as much trust into the security of those devices.

Unfortunately, digital security is constantly evolving. Release a piece of software and someone is inevitably going to find a way to breach it. This has happened with a smart home security system before and can even happen to things like your car or your heart.

smart home concerns - echo

At the time of writing this article, the Amazon Echo is a whopping $180 USD alone. This is simply a hub station that can take voice commands or play music. Add the cost of things like the Nest thermostat and other controls, and suddenly you’re looking at spending thousands of dollars for what’s supposedly “convenience”.

When you really think about it, smart home devices aren’t really doing anything you can’t already do on your own. You can get your phone or computer to take voice commands and play music already. You can obviously control a thermostat or turn on your lights. While it’s cool to be able to do everything with voice commands and gestures, sometimes you have to ask yourself if the money (and time spent earning that money) is worth what little work and time you’re saving yourself by buying products like these.

For the price of an Amazon Echo you could feed yourself for two months.

smart home concerns - surveillance

It wouldn’t be one of my articles if I didn’t talk about how virtually all of your digital information could potentially be accessed by government agencies or malicious parties.

The smart home example is quite blatant, though, especially using Amazon Echo or Google Home, since you’re allowing companies that are already giants of collecting personal information to collect even more than they already had. Once they have this information, there’s nothing stopping the government from stepping in and taking it from you or someone breaking it and taking it for themselves.

Past a certain point, I’m just tinfoiling. Digital security is solid when the users are doing what they should to stay secure, and I do believe technology like this is the future.

That being said, it’s important to educate yourself on how all of it works, what information is being collected and stored, and how you can add extra security to the process. I look forward to being able to walk around my house, talk to my house, and see things change right before my eyes, like how Jarvis interacted with Ironman in the movie.

What about you?

5 comments

  1. You don’t mention Apple HomeKit. As with its other initiatives, Apple claims substantial security in HomeKit. Is this legit? I wouldn’t trust Google with my dog’s identity, let alone mine. Amazon I trust more, but hanging a voice recognition system out in open air is creepy. Finish the story, please!

  2. The big question is, is the convenience worth the risk? I don’t see that it is. Every connection to the internet is vulnerable to intrusion, and so far NOBODY is taking the issue seriously.

    Yes, if I get a smart refrigerator that’s connected to the “Internet of Things”, then I can reprogram my icemaker to start making more ice from my smartphone. But a hacker could probably turn off my refrigerator the same way, which would cost me several hundred bucks in spoiled food and inconvenience.

  3. I set up my own Uniden Camera system. I have 10 cameras covering my home and one acre lot. I did add digital recording. No internet connectivity. However, I just have a Windows phone so would not expect an app for any IOT devices. I will never buy a google or apple phone. I see enough compromised privacy being forced to have an apple cell phone for work. The downside to cameras with no phone connectivity is that if I saw a burglary I could call the cops. However I have to weight that against the lack of privacy with the phones. Hopefully my cameras (some hidden) would capture a face for the cops to see. I see some useful devices with IOT but – who needs a smart toaster/dishwasher/refrigerator? I see the appliance manufacturers angle – a notification that the unit needs service is money in their pockets. That is assuming I do not repair the appliance myself or hire someone else to do it. Google’s whole Nest system, and Nest’s new camera surveillance company is downright creepy. Google with cameras in your house? bad enough their sweeps of your wireless network, and Skybox satellite views of your home. Samsung TV with camera on android – more creepy! what do you trust less, hackers getting through all your android based IOT, or google themselves? They believe themselves above all laws, and the US government is entirely reliant on them. Just check the Obamacare website for all the google beacons as you enroll. Anyone that truly understands what they are doing wants to live in a faraday cage like Gene Hackman in “Enemy of the State” movie.

  4. Yeah….no. I’ll pass on this entirely. I don’t need a “smart” fridge, dishwasher, coffee-maker, or microwave. When something breaks with one of my appliances, I’ll either get it fixed or get another. I don’t want lights coming on without me being in the room flicking the switch myself. I don’t need anything in my house to do anything “by itself”. Call me paranoid all ya want, but I think society is becoming a bit too reliant upon technology. I mean for god’s sake you can’t get up off your a$$ and check to see what’s running low in your fridge?…you need a “SMART fridge to tell you that you’re out of butter!!!???? I think that things like this will become the norm, and that along with this type of home will come the hacked security systems, the home invasions that will show NO “forced entry” because they’ll have hacked their way in through the garage, or some side entrance. If we would just be more pro-active when it came to securing our homes maybe we wouldn’t need a “smart home”. Seems to me the SMARTEST homes?….are the ones with NO smart tech in ’em! You wanna listen to music while your cooking in the kitchen?…bring your laptop downstairs and hook it up and then play / stream music to your heart’s content. There are so many solutions for mankind that DON’T involve having a machine do everything for you…but the won’t “pay attention”!…LoL!!

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