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IBM & Carrier in Web-Enabled Air Conditioner Deal

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the i-will-ownz-you-at-fifty-degrees dept.

Technology 123

Ggggeo writes "IBM and Carrier Corp. announced Monday that they plan to offer Web-enabled air-conditioners in Europe this summer. Users will be able to control their units through and perform such functions as turning units off/on and setting the temperature. The unit will also be able to send errors messages and other diagagnostic info to phones and email addresses. Story at Yahoo! News. This sounds ok but two this stick out in my mind - Corporate Headquarters setting the tempature in my cubicle, and/or script kiddies 0wn1ng my office air conditioner (or should I now say freezer?)"

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Okay... (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 13 years ago | (#303989)

This is at the top of my list of "Shit that can be done, but probably shouldn't." Why the hell would you want to control your A/C from a website when you can go across the room and adjust it?

- A.P.

Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

Why this is useful (1)

Justin Cave (945) | more than 13 years ago | (#303990)

Unlike most people, apparently, I think this is a very useful development. Why?

1) It would be very useful for power companies, particularly in CA, to be able to power off A/C at will. Just like big companies get cheaper power rates when they agree to go off the grid for a few hours a year, individuals could opt for cheaper power in return for the A/C being shut off in a power emergency. Much better than rolling blackouts.

2) Those of us that don't keep a regular schedule can't necessarily program the thermostat to only turn on the A/C when we're on the way home. When I come home, I want the apartment at a nice temp, but I don't want the A/C going all day to maintain it. I'd like to be able to turn it off when I leave for work, then flip it on an hour before I get home so I can come home to a pleasant apartment.

Re:You can do this now (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 13 years ago | (#303991)

Yes, but when I don't even know what time I'll be home, how can my thermostat know??

Re:What I would like to see... (1)

zaf (5944) | more than 13 years ago | (#303992)

This works better in smaller homes/apartments, and as long as you don't turn the thermostat too high. If the A/C has to work double time to get the temp back to a comfortable level, then you lose all your savings.
I practice this in my apartment, and it works great. I set the thermostat to around 80 when I leave, then back down to 72 when I return, but my apartment is only one bedroom.

freezer? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 13 years ago | (#303994)

I would say the little minions would make it hot as hell ;)

Your appliance is under hostage. (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 13 years ago | (#303995)

can see it already happening ...

"Your airco is under hostage,
do not attempt to involve police,

please send us $1000 in unmarked bills,
and we will set it free !"

- h4x0r-k1dd13s

Freaker / TuC

Meet George Jetson, PG&E bill payer (1)

IowaBoy (14068) | more than 13 years ago | (#303997)

This kind of remote-access energy management might seem a tad geeky, but it would go over VERY well right now here in energy-starved California. I'd love to be able to log in and switch on the AC when I leave work and have the apartment nice and cool when I get there, rather than wastefully cold for hours when I'm not there. I know X-10 and other similar technologies have been around for awhile to turn lights on and off, but given the nationwide problem of energy prices, the need might finally have arrived to justify the means.

Speaking of Web-enabled appliances, when is someone going to put 2 and 2 together and put a CueCat-style scanner into the side of my microwave linked to a DB of cooking times?!? We put a guy on the moon 30 frickin' years ago. It's about time I can just wave the pot pie box at my microwave, drop the tray in and close the door. My new Sharp "iMac"-style microwave has pre-programmed 1-touch buttons for microwave popcorn. Can't someone "embrace and extend" this ... I mean, NO! LEAVE IT THE WAY IT IS!!!

Computers and Air conditioners? (1)

Marsell (16980) | more than 13 years ago | (#303998)

Well, I'm sure there are possible uses for it. Actually, having a whole group of air conditioners controlled by computers certainly would be useful. I'm sure we can all imagine situations, like large buildings, etc.

On the other hand, this reminds me of one of the more unusual books I've read, Wyrm [] by Mark Fabi. Essentially, it's about an AI, bent on creating world armageddon, that evolved from computer viruses. In one part it tries to fry a bunch of people by locking all the doors in a high-security building, and then turning the knob up high.

As I said, one of the really whacked books I've read, by a psychologist who has waaaay too much time on his hands. Not that it's bad book (just the opposite). It's just most people wouldn't imagine a scenario where you had to defeat a near omnipotent AI/distributed virus which controls the worlds nuclear arsenal using MUD's.

Because we _can_ (1)

ywwg (20925) | more than 13 years ago | (#303999)

A/C status on my cell phone? How about "shit it's hot in here, the damn AC is busted again!" I can't see any functionality that a web-enabled airconditioner adds, and everyone else has detailed the many many problems with such an idea. What a waste of time, effort, money, and valuable IPs.

Unauthorized Air Condition Repairs? (1)

cruelworld (21187) | more than 13 years ago | (#304000)

Two Words.... Harry Tuttle

Re:umm... (1)

DJGreg (28663) | more than 13 years ago | (#304003)

Future job posting for California Power Commision:

Wanted: Computer "specialists" with experience with Internet-enabled Air conditioning units.
Preference given to applicant with proven ability to "control" all current models of A/C units.

End of power problem.. ;)

Re: Power Company Control (1)

chill (34294) | more than 13 years ago | (#304005)

Sorry, but many power companies do this already. You can sign up to let them power down your water heater or AC/heater unit for a certain amount of hours a day -- if necessary -- for a discount on your power bill.

I've been signed up for this for years and they've only used it (that I have noticed) twice. However, they've been knocking 5-7% off of my bill for the entire time.

They have guaranteed numbers -- how long they can turn it off for at a time; how long in a 24-hour period; and what criteria (% of plant capacity) they use as a threshold.

It is a hell of a lot better than hitting capacity and shutting off power to entire areas (rolling blackouts) like in California.

Charles E. Hill

Re:When I first read the title (1)

chill (34294) | more than 13 years ago | (#304006)

Actually, big air conditioning systems (for large buildings) have graphical interfaces.

The one on the carrier units in the last place I worked was Win 3.1 based (ugh!) but we could see all the rooms, bypasses, blowers, temperature monitors, etc.

One of the features we had requested was a network accessable (preferrably web-enabled) interface.
Charles E. Hill

Re:"All your air conditioner (1)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 13 years ago | (#304007)

are belong to us" - this message brought to by [PG&E,SCE,(other California power company)].

Re:You can do this now (1)

Kilzall (37495) | more than 13 years ago | (#304008)

Rig it up to the answering machine somehow. At the beep, press a code and then the temperature you want to set the thermostat too. That way there's no messing with IP addresses or massive amounts of research into embedded chips. I'm sure somebody has thought of this...

Re:What I would like to see... (1)

bmacy (40101) | more than 13 years ago | (#304009)

Actually, that's not true. Turning the A/C off is more efficient (physics) though more painful when you get home. I takes less energy to bring a room from 85=>75 than 100=>75, but it takes more energy to maintain the temperature at 85 all day than the difference.

Brian Macy

X-10 (1)

Skyfire (43587) | more than 13 years ago | (#304010)

Yes, I know, most people see X-10 and relate it to their wireless cameras. However, it appears that they have quite a line of home automation equipment [] , as well as some touch-tone controlled and PC controlled things. They can control air-conditioning, and other things... this new air-conditioner doesn't sound all that innovative to me

soembody reel in the R&D folks (1)

seanw (45548) | more than 13 years ago | (#304011)

I mean, I suppose this is kind of useful (to someone? maybe?). but when first read this I had to laugh. these people have far to much time on their hands.

and, what exactly does it mean for my air conditioner to send me error messages? the only useful one I can think of is "I've been unplugged" and that wouldn't exactly, umm, make it, would it?

Re:Lap of Luxury or 1984 (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#304012)

Gee, you dont half sugar coat 1984 do you? Ever actually read the book? They dont spy on your television shows, they decide what you watch for you and if you dont like it they come and kill you.

Re:I don't like this (1)

Wire Tap (61370) | more than 13 years ago | (#304013)

I agree with that you say about where the efforts should be spent... but really, this is a neat thing - as a conceptual idea. Of course, just about every new development surrounding the internet falls into that category. Really, how many people will want to pay to control their air conditioner (which is 2 feet away) from a website, that they will have to access, login, and fiddle with? I know I would rather reach over to my thermostat and turn a dial. I think the most important question here is: Is it practical? The answer is, obviously: no. Thus, they probably won't be selling many of these units.

Neat idea? Maybe. Then again... I really don't think it is all that spectacular... even at a conceptual level (just contradicted the first part of my post)... A NEAT and practical development that I saw on ZD TV a few months ago was a soda machine that was wired to the net, and could accept credit cards. That is not only neat on a conceptual level, but quite practical as well. It also eliminates one of the reasons to carry change. In my opinion, that is much more noteworthy than the "magic air conditioner."

My 2 cents...

firewall (1)

kajoob (62237) | more than 13 years ago | (#304014)

Since this is still a couple years off, I would imagine there would be a larger proliferation of smarthouses. I'd like to be able to plug the thermostat into my existing ethernet network and be able put a firewall in front of all the appliances. I mean the posts about the script kiddies and 'all your appliances are belong to us' are hilarious, but it is a serious issue. And there are privacy issues at stake here as well. I wouldn't mind if I call washing machine tech support and they connect to my dryer or whatever with VNC for appliances or whatever, but I don't like that a company could harvest all this usage information from all these smart appliances and use it for whatever.

Re:a computer is like .. (1)

erpbridge (64037) | more than 13 years ago | (#304015)

True.... but, if you live in a place that's concerned about energy usage, it'd probably be even more cost effective to turn it on an hour before you came home (usually can be done from work, or a web-enabled cellphone) aint my address.

Re:a computer is like .. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 13 years ago | (#304016)

Heh..thats the best laugh i've had all week.

Of course, WHY anyone needs to control their airconditioner from a remote location is beyond me. Leaving it on if you go out for the day isn't that big a deal, since its probably most cost efficient to let it run then let the room warm up and then try to cool it again.

Now those microwaves that get the precise time needed to cook frozen dinners would be handy, since microwaves vary so much.

When I first read the title (1)

MattGWU (86623) | more than 13 years ago | (#304019)

I pictured the CA state government monitoring the millions of air conditioners in the state and tweaking them in response to the condition of their power grid at the moment. This, of course, would be one of those incredibly controvercial solutions (that would, admittably, be quite effective).

The thing that most led me to that conclusion was IBM's involvement. A large scale project with the CA govermnent seemed like something IBM would be in to, rather than a European novelty (luxury) item. Other than the passing "Hey...that's kind of neat", does anyone *really* need this? I suppose there's a small environmental benifit: you can turn your A/C on 15 minutes before you return to the house rather than leave it on all day.

Oh well.

Re:I don't like this (1)

tconnors (91126) | more than 13 years ago | (#304020)

What about when it is 3:00 in the afternoon, you telnet home and turn on the air con so the room is sufficienly cool when you get home - saves 6 hours of electricity?

I would love what that was to do to my electricity bill.

I dont know about it being a lot of research effort - I think I could do it with a relay and thermistor connected to my parallel port.

TimC -- Oooh, Look! Shiny thing!

umm... (1)

emmons (94632) | more than 13 years ago | (#304021)

I don't think this will be exploited too much

Imagine how bad the california power situation would get if, on some relatively warm day, every air conditioner in the state was turned to 45?

Or, imagine how much money the gas companies would make if every business' furnace was turned to 90 during the night at the same time?


Corporate control of A/C Units (1)

d-ude (106541) | more than 13 years ago | (#304023)

....has already been around for awhile. I remember back when Sun TV & Appliance was in business, they had a store with the heat on while it was 75 degrees outside. Seems as though the corp. ofc. was in a colder place at the time and didn't think anyone need the A/C turned on yet...

Re:Okay... (1)

jred (111898) | more than 13 years ago | (#304024)

You can already get very close to this with X10 products...

jred []

Check that... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 13 years ago | (#304026)

Okay, so after re-reading the article, it does sound like it's for home units...

Man, that's dumb.

God does not play dice with the universe. Albert Einstein

Hacked... (1)

CBoy (129544) | more than 13 years ago | (#304027)

"Uh honey? Why is it snowing in the bedroom? You did implement the firewall filters for the AC's IP address, right?"

It could just be the beginning... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 13 years ago | (#304028)

Check out my internet draft: h- tldhere-01.txt

If wearable/mobile pcs become popular, people could bookmark their favourite temperatures :).

You could also send+receive multimedia objects to/from other people as part of a normal conversation.

Telepathy and telekinesis, coming soon on a wearable pc near you...


Re:I couldn't resist. (1)

efuseekay (138418) | more than 13 years ago | (#304029)

Shouldn't it be : What you say !!

Re:I don't like this (1)

Kronovohr (145646) | more than 13 years ago | (#304030)

There's a lot of things on here that, despite sounding frivolous to a home
user, would be great for a system encompassing larger a/c systems etc... for
industry (some of it would even be great if they'd do it on the systems
themselves as opposed to network). Throwing diagnostics in as well would be
a tremendous idea on the whole; You could tell via a mail if refrigerant
pressure drops below a certain point, tell by airflow what filters need
changing, warn of mechanical failure (blower motors not running, compressors
stalled/shorted to ground/locked up, etc...), and electrical failure as well.

The one thing, however, that I do not like, is the fact this will introduce a
new level of complexity into a fairly simple system. Already, there are
unnecessary items inside many systems (high-dollar control units to replace
a simple contactor or relay mechanism, for example) that not only mean more
problems in event of failure, but result in a higher cost to the customer in
labor, parts replacement, and up front cost.

Frankly (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 13 years ago | (#304031)

I'd settle for any air conditioning, even if it was being controlled by the corporate whores running my university. My attic room in my antique dorm isn't the happiest place to be in late spring. Sigh.

Re:I don't like this (1)

AllegroCEO (153431) | more than 13 years ago | (#304032)

If IBM and Carrier do the project it will be a huge waste of resources. But this project is really a piece of cake. Nothing to it. More along the lines of an undergraduate student project in terms of complexity and cost. I think it would be cool to be able to control my AC/Heat from my PC.

Besides, it would seem that somebody is already getting Internet access to developing nations - you have it.

for obsessive compulsives (1)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 13 years ago | (#304033)

Oh my god, did I turn off the lights? (checks cell phone)...whew...OH NO, I think I left the water running! (checks cell phone) Disaster averted. Wow, this is great, but will it allow me to more easily wash my hands 50 times a day?

Re:"All your air conditioner (1)

bph (165894) | more than 13 years ago | (#304034)

Which is exactly what this is for. PG&E and other companies want you to sign up (for a discounted rate) your AC for remote control. Thus, on the REALLY hot days, they can turn it off and save power.

Re:Um, where's the power switch??? (1)

EvlPenguin (168738) | more than 13 years ago | (#304035)

"In other news, officials in California have announced that they are considering legislation allowing power companies to remotely turn off the new '' air conditioners via the Internet in an attempt to avert more rolling blackouts."

If you're in Californa, you'd be lucky if you could afford _any_ air conditioning.

Re:yes, now wait for those crackers.. (1)

Mojojojo Monkey Inc. (174471) | more than 13 years ago | (#304036)

Yes we should stifle development of anything with web-access because "crackers" could possibly abuse it. +5 insightful.

Maybe someone was just messing with my mind... (1)

Teflon Coating (177969) | more than 13 years ago | (#304037)

2 summers ago we had band practice and it was really hot in this one room. So my band director called up a janator, who was at his house and told him it was too hot in the room. The AC then turned on a few minutes later and my band director told me that he was able to turn the AC on and off from his house. Is this possible or is this just some joke played on me? We have a PBX system at our school if that could make any difference. Are there turnkey systems already or did some electronics teacher hack this up if it's even possible?

Re:Okay... (1)

Antipop (180137) | more than 13 years ago | (#304038)

How long do you think it'll take before some guy puts it on his network and writes a perl script to control it and have it on a user-defined schedule? One less thing to worry about and of course, the Geek Factor (tm).


Re:Great way to annoy someone... (1)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#304039)

I don't think this will be exploited too much -- after all there isn't any monetary benefit from it.

most hackers/crackers dont do it for 'monetary benefit' - they do it for fun. dont believe the hacker/cracker as terrorist tripe the Plutocrats want to sell you so they can squeeze the internet/techs to the bullshit party line.

ok - someones gotta say it. (1)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#304040)

h0VV d0 u |_1|47 h347 biatch? I 0wn3d j00! 0|-|, |>0|\|7 71K3 7|-|3 |-|347? |-|0VV 'b0u7 'd4 c0ld? 31337 K&3VV 0wn3d j00 biatch!

fix it! (1)

eudas (192703) | more than 13 years ago | (#304042)

just "fix" the a/c so that it looks like it's responding to the external commands of corporate HQ, but only truly obeys local commands from you.


Potentially serious mistake (1)

z-axis (195410) | more than 13 years ago | (#304043)

It may sound silly, but IIRC, a number of people in major cities die every hot summer due to air conditioning failure.

Just wait until some script kiddie gets the bright idea to DOS or whatever in the middle of July.


VivianC (206472) | more than 13 years ago | (#304044)

Think turning on all the AC units in Southern California during one of their stage three alerts. DDOS half the state!


H4X0Rs of the world... (1)

KurdtX (207196) | more than 13 years ago | (#304045)

Wow, this reminded me of that story [] that slashdot ran last year about guys who willingly put their thermostat under internet control, and as I remember, people had that thing above 90. Anybody want to fuck with some Europeans? Particularly the PHBs who think it would be a good idea to do this to their engineers? he he he...


yes, now wait for those crackers.. (1)

X-Dopple (213116) | more than 13 years ago | (#304048)

I'm sitting in my office, it's 100F out, but I'm chilling with my nice Web-enabled conditioner.

Then all of a sudden, it gets very stuffy in the room. Someone has cracked my air conditioner and set it at the hottest setting possible. It catches on fire. I've been 0wn3d by some lame skript kiddie controlling my air conditioner.

Tetris (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 13 years ago | (#304049)

First there was net controlled building light tetris. Now with the aid of the air con units we can add force feedback. Who says web scripts don't make for state of the art gaming?!

Remember? (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 13 years ago | (#304050)

Anyone remember the guys who wired their thermostat to the web, ans SlashDot got wind of it, and they put up a sign "Too Hot! :-("? Well, they had to take it down because it cost so much :P

I don't like this (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#304051)

This sort of thing seems to me to be a colossal waste of resources and research effort. I think that the guys at IBM and Carrier need to focus more on getting air conditioners and internet access to people in developing nations, and making less frivolous gadgets for the super-rich and to show off at trade shows. Not to mention the problem of every fool appliance's IP number depleting the available set and such...


This is interesting. (1)

Veachian64 (229054) | more than 13 years ago | (#304052)

But there's an easier way to do it. Rather than have all the air conditioners web enabled, why not hire Stanley the Metalworker to bi-modularize the air using his pants? That way, even if three plus seven is ten, Metallica can protect their CDs from being downloaded off of Napster. This will protect script kiddies from getting girlfriends, thus leading to global warming caused by the release of Windows XP. If you can't get a TiVo, I recommend you buy HTML formatted text since it smells better in the winter. Speaking of smelling better, you should take a shower before calling Grandma Davis so that she can turn her lights on with the help of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. I once paid $500 for a pair of socks, and my computer decided poetry from the Middle Ages was available on eBay. This led to my mouse getting a bad case of McDonalds, which was eaten by Donna of Australia.

Re:Great! (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 13 years ago | (#304053)

Or some twelve year old AC could do that! Ha ha ha! Ha! *cough* Really, it was funny when I clicked reply... really!

Centrally Controlled Thermostat (1)

jonsuen (230380) | more than 13 years ago | (#304054)

For those complaining about somebody controlling their temperature... my former school had a system where some idiot in the central office, 30 minutes away, got to control our temperature. Its 110 outside and the heat is still on. Our janitor illegaly installed bypass switches.

Re:The Slow Decline (1)

waterbiscuit (241198) | more than 13 years ago | (#304055)

This is actually a very insightful post. It epitomises the aspects of technology which really are quite ridiculous- do I really need to have my house warm before I get home so that I dont have to wait 10 minutes for the heating to warm up? I can't see this being beneficial to society in any way. Whilst it seems quite nice to have light switches on and off, doors opening for you and other such luxuries, it surely can't lead to a good society.

General politeness would simply cease to exist as everything is done for you, and we become entrapped in a system where you are served upon by technology to such an extent that you become its slave. We are already today a complacent and lazy nation- microwave meals, slouching in front of the box, we expect everything to be there ready for us. Whilst it all seems very fun and trivial, the long term implications of living in a system completely controlled by computer extend far beyond the technology itself but into the nature of society itself.

Re:I don't like this (1)

clarkgoble (241742) | more than 13 years ago | (#304056)

Maybe IBM is doing what they are supposed to do. Sell things. Surprising as it may be to you - people in developing nations don't have as much money to spend. I'm fairly sure that most people in 3rd world nations have much better things to spend their money on than internet access. Perhaps you have just been jaded because of your own wealth? (Not that web enabled appliances make any sense in my mind. Get a BSR controller if that's what you want - much safer)

.net... now we get .ac (1)

n0rm (261621) | more than 13 years ago | (#304058)

Would this work like the new software licensing deals? If I don't pay my subscription fee they shut off my AC, and then sell my information to spammers? While smarter air conditioners may be good in the long run, I would prefer it, if IBM spent their time building low cost car mp3-players.
Carrier dealers, installers and engineers will have individual unit control and be able to access key customer data, the companies said.

No one is messing with your mind... (1)

TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) | more than 13 years ago | (#304059)

I have on occasion dialed into the HVAC system of the school my Dad works at, to save him from having to go there and turn on the air conditioning or heating for some special occasion or something.

The connection was over a 1200 bps modem but it was good enough...


And I'm going to use this...when? (1)

BSDevil (301159) | more than 13 years ago | (#304060)

As opposed to building somthing stupid like this, IBM could be inventing me a supercomputer to fit in my cell phone, and Carrier could be coming p with a way to make my air conditioner quiet.

From looking at this idea, it seems like it will appear on the high-end models. Now, high-end models of air conditioners have fast response times. I can press the cool button in my hall, and that hall will be cool within a minute or two. My whole house will be cool within ten minutes. It's not like I need to use my phone to tell my house to cool before I leave the office - ACs are fast. Definit waste of time...

Obligatory question... (1)

BSDevil (301159) | more than 13 years ago | (#304061)

Will I be able install Linux on my air conditioner, and I can I install SETI@home on all the units in my building?

oppertunity for thieves (1)

multicsfan (311891) | more than 13 years ago | (#304062)

Just think, the breaking and entering crowd now has a reason to become computer literate. Lets monitor the A/C settings, this way we can determine who's on vacation ;)

Um, where's the power switch??? (1)

wrero (314883) | more than 13 years ago | (#304063)

At first glance, it appears that they forgot something: manual controls. Controlling the thing over the internet is cool <ahem>, but what happens when the phone lines go down? Can you turn the thing off (or on?)....

Or, worse yet: you pay a fortune for the thing and then "" goes out of business (like Divx) - Now you can't use it. Or, to stay in business, they charge a fee on top of the unit cost. I can see it now: Pay $1000 for the unit, and then $20/month to turn it on or off.

"In other news, officials in California have announced that they are considering legislation allowing power companies to remotely turn off the new '' air conditioners via the Internet in an attempt to avert more rolling blackouts."

Call Tech Support... (1)

wellwellwell (323394) | more than 13 years ago | (#304065)

Can you imagine what a nightmare Tech Support reps would have with this thing?

"Hello? Tech Support? God, I had to talk to at least 20 people to get to you... can you help me?"

"What is the problem?"

"Well, I live in SmallTown, USA, and I think it is too cold in here, and I dont know how to set the AUTO THINGIE"

"Have you tried accessing your unit from your appliance provider?"

"No I dont have a computer...yet."

"Have you applied the latest patches and virus scanning software to your Ambient Temperature Control Unit?"


"Try Rebooting your home control system."


"Push the RESET BUTTON on the Automated Temperature Control Box."

"........ OK, I did that, thanks."

"RING RING RING.... Hello this is Appliance Central...How can I Help you?"

"Hello, I think it is too hot in here."

"Oh I can't do cooling, let me transfer you to someone who can help you..."

"UUUh.... OK I think I'll open the window. Thanks."


Re:I don't like this (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 13 years ago | (#304066)

That's what my programmable thermostat is doing at home right now...and it will never be cracked from Russia.

Is there a killer app here? (1)

s20451 (410424) | more than 13 years ago | (#304067)

This device sounds a little random, like they pulled pieces of paper out of a hat - an air conditioner connected to the internet. Is there a killer app in the realm of web-enabled appliances? I can see applications for remote monitoring and notification ... as long as the security issues can be solved.

Re:I don't like this (1)

Genyin (415163) | more than 13 years ago | (#304069)

Eventually they added in features that basically made the temperatures tend towards normal...
I haven't been over at that site for a while though.
All your constitutional right are belong to us.

Other items... (1)

Eustis Burbank (415579) | more than 13 years ago | (#304070)

I'm personally waiting for IBM and American Standard to get together and provide us with the first web-enabled bidet.

The screams from houseguests alone would make it worthwhile...

I don't like this idea (1)

B.Assturd (416078) | more than 13 years ago | (#304071)

... because it will only be an excuse to raise the price of air conditioners again. Hopefully the FTC or somebody will step in and regulate this out-of-control industry.

back to the basics (1)

Tregod (441880) | more than 13 years ago | (#304072)

now, when your A/C malfunctions, you can blame it on (your) big brother... "now, if i could only get my computer to work, maybe it wouldn't be so darn hot in this house."

Been there, done that (1)

certsoft (442059) | more than 13 years ago | (#304073)

For the last year or two. I find it easier to just walk across the room and use the touchscreen.

Late April 1? (2)

booch (4157) | more than 13 years ago | (#304074)

Hey, isn't it a bit late to be making April Fools jokes? Like anyone would be stupid enough to put an Ethernet connection on an air conditioner! Next thing you know [] , they'll web-enable [] a fridge. []

Almost There Now (2)

Detritus (11846) | more than 13 years ago | (#304076)

When they installed a new heating/cooling distribution and control system in my office, the old thermostats were replaced with little beige boxes. Flip open the cover and the only thing that you will see is a single electrical connector, looks like an RJ-11 or RJ-45. When the HVAC people want to adjust the system, they plug a laptop computer into the connector.

DDOS on your AC??? (2)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 13 years ago | (#304077)

just for S&G what if someone did a DDOS on or attacket the system and gained access and turned all the AC units on an dmade it real cold all at the same time?? What would be the energy drain on the power system and how long would it be before someone shut an entire grid down?

Okay so maybe this is a little far fetched, but it could be possible if someone got in.

Parynoind.. naw.. everyone's just out to get me

I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
Flame away, I have a hose!

(sigh) slashdotters... (2)

J.J. (27067) | more than 13 years ago | (#304078)

I mean, puh-leaze. We get all fired up at a web-enabled Pinball machine or a web-enabled Coke machine because it's a good hack.

Now, someone actually hacks a air conditioner with an ethernet interface (a cheap $10 part) to report back it's operating stats (just a bit of clever engineering) via an uplink that's probably outside your structured cabling plant, but it quite likely in the same room or just over the wall from your existing comm room.

So now, the A/C guys get all the pleasure of sitting back and monitoring all their equipment via a single, central point, something we've enjoyed for years. Oh, and now they get to know when something breaks before you do.

I run the networks in a collection of rather large buildings. I just did a walkthru of the communications rooms with the contractor who's installing the new A/C units, because they're 'net enabled. Those guys are fired up over the level of control and knowledge they'll have over their systems.

So now, a couple rather large companies think that maybe, just maybe, home users might like the same level of control over their home systems? It's not like it's expensive - (that $10 part and a bit of Engineering) it's bringing enterprise level technology into the home.

Don't we usually like that?


What I would like to see... (2)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 13 years ago | (#304081)

First, you shouldn't turn your air conditioning off, but instead turn it up (make it warmer) when you leave, then down (make it cooler) when you come home. Otherwise, it takes more energy to cool down a very hot house, rather than a slightly warm house.

Try it for a month - set your AC to 75 (or whatever is the temp you like), then when you leave the house, up it to 80-85, then back down when you come home. It isn't that bad, doesn't take long to cool down, and your electric bill will be lower.

What would be better would be room-by-room thermostats that had IR motion detectors, so that you could direct the cooling to specific parts of the house, where you are at, when you are in the area, using vent valves and such, and raise the temperature up and down based on if you are home or not. That would be much better.

Of course, what I don't understand out here in lovely Phoenix, Arizona, why people don't use solar cooling instead of A/C - it can work great if the house is built properly (read as: proper orientation of windows/walls, having a partially buried house, rammed earth construction, etc)...

Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!

Re:What I would like to see... (2)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 13 years ago | (#304082)

Actually, it works OK in larger houses too - my GF and I live in a very large house out here (unfortunately not a solar home - that is my dream and ideal house, something which should be standard out here, but isn't) in Phoenix, and we have 2 (!!) large A/C units on the house, it is so big - we simply close the curtains on the large windows, and turn up the back room area and leave the other up a little higher than normal, but not as high as the back room (otherwise our guinea pigs would roast) - so we normally have both A/Cs at 75-77 or so, and then when we leave the back area (bedrooms) get set to about 85, and the front area is set to 78-80. We also close all the back room area doors, as well. Works out pretty good, actually...

Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!

As if remote controls aren't complicated enough! (2)

xixax (44677) | more than 13 years ago | (#304083)

Helpdesk: "Carrier helpdesk, how can I help you enjoy your day?"

User: "Hi, I can't seem to switch on my air conditioning. I used to be able to hit a switch marked 'on' and set the temperature using a dial"

Helpdesk: "OK, have you re-booted your computer?"

User: "Uh-huh"

Helpdesk: Have you tried rebooting the air conditioner?"

User: "Uh-huh"

Helpdesk: "Have you installed the Carrier CD-ROM supplied by IBM?"

User: "Uh-huh"

Helpdesk: "Have you tired reconfiguring your TCP/IP stack and re-installing your network card?"

User: "Uh-huh"

Helpdesk: "Have I tried to blame it on your ISP?"

<time passes>

Helpdesk: "Now navigate to the widget marked "temperature" and enter the temperature of the room in degree Kelvin, *please* make sure you set a value greater than 270 as freezing your lounge room to absolute zero will invalidate your warranty".

<time passes>

Helpdesk: "Can I get you to open the folder marked 'windows' and scroll down until you find a file called "CARRIER.DLL", when you find it, right mouse on it and select properties.

User: "Uh-huh"

Helpdesk: "What version does it say it is?"

User: "version 3.11.09b"

Helpdesk: "OK, that should work with your version of air conditioner and your version of WindowsYQ. Let's try resetting the parameters in 'aircondpnl.ini' to match your hot keys"

User: "But it's hot here already..."

<time passes>

Help desk: "Oh, I see. You have installed the Southern hemisphere application. Our more recent automatic software update would have set the correct cooling program for you. But because you installed the incorrect application, this new feature is not going to function correctly in your hemispehere. If you un-install your air conditioner and re-install it with the Northern hemispehere application, it will stop heating your house. Have a nice summer Sir."

&AT&F ~~~~ NO CARRIER...

Heating to excess (2)

E1ven (50485) | more than 13 years ago | (#304084)

The site [] was an interesting experiment on human nature, more than on the technology.

It showed that people will abuse any chance they hve to make other people miserable, where there is no accountability.

It is facinating to watch . Even when they begged (your sign, as above) their heating bills were double normal...


This message brought to you by Colin Davis

Re:Why this is useful (2)

Wire Tap (61370) | more than 13 years ago | (#304085)

I agree on your two points, but I think it would be much better suited to a *home* network control base. Do you really need to go though the inconvienence of getting on the net, and logging into their site to turn on your AC? No! Of course not... it is silly! Now, if it was a mere program or dongle that hooked up to a nice home network, that is a different story. Hell, I'd even opt for that in my house.

Have it & hate it (2)

one-egg (67570) | more than 13 years ago | (#304086)

My office temperature is already controlled from "corporate HQ" (i.e., the facilities office at the other end of campus). They deign to allow me a whopping +/- 2 degrees of personal control.

For two successive summers, I had to keep a long-sleeved wool shirt around. Repeated phone calls eventually revealed that my setpoint was 68 degrees, regardless of the time of year. I started having RSI problems from the cold. So they fixed it, but every time their Windows box crashed it would reset to the default setpoint of 68.

Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather have an old bulletproof bimetal Honeywell. What it lacks in fanciness, it more than makes up by actually working and giving me personal control.

My great, great grandpa told me so (2)

Voltage_Gate (69001) | more than 13 years ago | (#304087)

As far as pranks go with new technology, let's remember when the first telephones were around, the operators would sometimes listen in on your conversation and come out with a wise crack in the middle of your conversation! It'll be funny to see the cold turn on in the dead of winter because of some kiddie, as long as it doesn't happen to me.

Back off MS! (2)

Jarvo (70205) | more than 13 years ago | (#304088)

Don't let microsoft near this one. Next thing you know, it's got support for executing VB scripts / apps.

The next logical progression is a series of virii that hijack the control to the air-conditioner.

e.g. Sahara virus: Temperature set to a nice dry 45 degrees C.
Siberia virus: Temperature set to a nice cool -45 degrees C.
Yoyo virus: keeps changing the temperature setting to random values.

The Slow Decline (2)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#304089)

I think it's terrific that technology now offers us the option to be absolutely lazy at whatever temperature what desire.

Now, if I could just teach my AIBO to bring me a Coke when I ask for it....

Re:What I would like to see... (2)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 13 years ago | (#304095)

but it takes more energy to maintain the temperature at 85 all day than the difference.

Before anyone contradicts him, what this guy is saying is right. If you don't believe it, I have a couple of differential equations to show you.

Easier though is to do it by induction. Lets make the time you're out of the house ridiculously long. If you are away for two years, is it cheaper to leave the AC running at a slightly higher temperature or just switch it off? If it's true for two years, it's true for 1, it's true for a day or 6 hours.

I think this fallacy may be linked to the fluorescent light thing where because they use a lot of energy to start up, it is cheaper to leave them on (up to a certain period of time, not permanently) than switch them off. However, this works because the fluorescent light is doing no useful work (producing light) when you switch it on. An AC starts cooling your house as soon as it's running.


So, I worked at Carrier... (2)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 13 years ago | (#304096)

So, I worked as an intern at Carrier about 2 years ago. For years they've been using a propriatary network and protocal called CCN (Carrier Comfort Network), and, also for years, they had the software set up so that they can monitor and manage large buildings environments via dial-up to the building's CCN. While I was there, they were talking about making the system Web-accesable, because that's what their customers wanted.

That said, more than likely this system is not designed for the home user, but for large buildings already using CCN systems (which can control and monitor some 200+ devices (not couting subnets), from thermostats to massive 10,000 gallon chillers), so I don't think every joe-shmoe is going to have an IP for his home AC unit.

Also, I would imagine this will be implimented on site with a device connected to the CCN which just happens to have an net-connection, and the real work will be on the software controlling (because customs also hate to have to change their hardware).

God does not play dice with the universe. Albert Einstein

Great way to annoy someone... (2)

Mr_Icon (124425) | more than 13 years ago | (#304097)

Mess with their house appliances, although I'm pretty certain it's going to be rather secure and you could turn off web-control by a turn of a switch. I don't think this will be exploited too much -- after all there isn't any monetary benefit from it.

You don't need to use technology when you want to annoy someone using an appliance. If you live in an apartment house with one rather weak central waterline and you want to get back at your neighbour for the ruckus he caused the night before by playing his music during early hours of the night... Well, just wait till he gets in a shower and then go and flush your toilet. Take my word -- his screams will be best music to your vengeful ears.

Great! (2)

Rura Penthe (154319) | more than 13 years ago | (#304098)

Now I can freak out small children in my house! AC on, AC off, AC on, AC off. AAAAAAAAAH MAKE IT STOP! :)

Controlling ACs with HTML? (2)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 13 years ago | (#304099)

While I think it is great that someone is trying to think up a system for controlling ACs,don't we already have a system for doing this? Isn't this what the Moderation system already does?

I think the idea of DDOS against ACs is a good idea too, but we have to remember that some ACs have important things to say, and also that since they are anonymous, we won't be able to find out their IPs.

I think the best way to control ACs is just by setting our threshold to 1 or higher...

Re:I don't like this (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 13 years ago | (#304100)

What about when it is 3:00 in the afternoon, you telnet home and turn on the air con so the room is sufficienly cool when you get home - saves 6 hours of electricity?

What about when the h4x0r5 do the same thing, leaving your house either hotter than hell or cold as the North Pole? Not to mention the fact that your electricity bill for the day comes out to about $25000 (add a few extra zeroes if you live in California). Please don't tell me this thing runs Windows. Checking the web site, it doesn't say.

BTW, this reminds me of an old project -- don't know if it is still up, doubt it is -- in which a few people were living in a climate-controlled house, but the AC/heating was controlled by visitors to their web site. IIRC, visitors only got one vote per day, and each vote only affected the temperature by a fraction of a degree. But here's the funny part -- the temperature was in the mid-to-upper 80s when I visited the site, and from the webcam view on the site, you could see a hand-drawn sign that said "Too hot!" and a stick figure pouring sweat.

The AOL-Time Warner-Microsoft-Intel-CBS-ABC-NBC-Fox corporation:

Hacking the Home Appliance? (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#304101)

Script kiddies hacking the air conditioner, the stereo system, etc?

It reeminds of of that Babylon 5 Episode where Molari angered someone he should not have, and wound up having his quarters and his life ruined not by a virus, but by a holodemon program.

The Lurker's Guide has this [] :

Londo is in his quarters, having considerable difficulty, when Vir enters. Londo explains that a holodemon has possessed his data system. It is eating up files, records, and buying stocks he would never purchase for himself, in addition to playing painful Narn opera continually. Vir suggests that Londo apologize. Londo refuses at first, but when his computer suddenly reports that he is the new owner of 500,000 shares of Fireflies Incorporated, then blacks out the entire room, Londo agrees.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

This is obviously the next step... (2)

Kris.Felscher (228214) | more than 13 years ago | (#304102)

It's funny. Lately I've been seeing newspapers printing the top 10 or 50 energy consumers in their area. In Florida, the Tampa Tribune printed the top 10 water consumers. I wonder how long it'll be before our energy supplies are rationed to us like meat in Iraq.
Just wait, one day you won't have to worry about turning the air conditioner off because it's getting cold. The gubment will have already done it for you.
You think I'm wrong. watch and see.

Kris Felscher

Lap of Luxury or 1984 (2)

stuccoguy (441799) | more than 13 years ago | (#304103)

When I was a child I never would have dreamed that I could remotely control my air conditioner from anywhere in the world.

As an adult, I have to wonder why I would want to do such a thing.

I am sure there must be some really decent uses for such a luxury and time will bring more practical remote control applications.

Did you just leave for vacation and forgot to check if the oven was left on? No problem, logon to the net with your PDA and check. While you are away on vacation just turn the lights and television off and on randomly to scare away would be burglars (California residents need not do this because rolling blackouts will do it for them).

I can think of hundreds of worth while applications for being able to control applicances via a web interface (not the least of which is setting the vcr to tape X-Files while I am stranded in traffic), in some ways it is a dream come true.

George Orwell causes me to think twice about this luxury though. I'd sure hate to come home and find that some script kiddy had programmed my vcr to record MTV or worse VH1. I would not want some neo-technical pyromaniac setting my house ablaze from two continents away by simply turning my stove on high while I am gone.

Then there is the government and big business (one and the same...thanks Bush) spying on which television shows I recorded from afar. Perhaps the movie industries equivilant of the RIAA keeping tabs to make sure I do not tape any of their movies.

Thanks, but no thanks. I think I will wait until these services are more secure before turning the keys to my home over blindly to anyone on the net. Maybe they could host the services on SE-Linux (lol).

Re:Okay... (3)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#304104)

How about (assuming mobile web access):
  • Turning it on half an hour before you get home?
  • Turning it off remotely when you forget to switch it off before you leave?

More broadly, this kind of home automation would be very useful for things like turning the lights on/off remotely (living in a three-story house you get very sick of walking down the stairs to turn off the light you forgot to switch off), turning down the stereo when the phone rings. I can't wait for it to finally happen. Maybe the wireless networking technologies presently being touted will be the catalyst.

Go you big red fire engine!

Greenspun was right (3)

Kyobu (12511) | more than 13 years ago | (#304105)

Although this is not a particularly unpredictable thing, Greenspun [] did predict it, and more to the point, explained why it would happen, about halfway down this page [] :
As I have hinted, I think that companies such as GE will start to put Internet interfaces into their appliances as soon as about 20 percent of American households are wired for full-time Internet, for example with cable modems (see Chapter 6). But they won't do it because they think it is cool for your GE fridge to talk to your Whirlpool dishwasher. They'll do it because it will cut the cost of tech support for them. Instead of paying someone to wait on the 800 line while you poke around with your head underneath the fridge looking for the serial number, they'll want to ping your fridge across the Internet and find out the model, its current temperature, and whether there are any compressor failures.
I think he's right.

The technology is nothing new at all... (3)

gtwreck (74885) | more than 13 years ago | (#304106)

I work for a building automation equipment manufacturer. I have developed web interfaces to such building automation equipment (even Carrier units). Every building control system manufacturer of any quality has a web-based control interface to their building control network. Some manufacturers ONLY control their equipment via the HTTP, Java, and other net protocols.

The only thing that's new here is that IBM and Carrier seem to be targeting the consumer market.

Personally I think it is only a marketing move to get IBM and Carrier names into the future home automation market. I think it is going to be 10 years or more before the average joe shmoe has any kind of control system running in his house, much less anything that he will conrol from OUTSIDE his house.

If my experience with Carrier is any indicator, this is nothing more than a packaging of Carrier's proprietary control network over an HTTP connection, something all of us building automation manufacturers have been doing for years.

Carrier's control equipment is at the bottom of the heap as far as quality and innovation goes- their HVAC units are what get them in the door. Customers use their control equipment only because they don't know any better or it came with the HVAC units for the most part.

I already do this, using X-10 (3)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 13 years ago | (#304107)

Go buy yourself a bunch of X-10 parts and download MisterHouse [] . Assuming you've already got the Linux box and the net connection, the rest is simple.

I did this last summer, so that I could turn on my air conditioning shortly before leaving work. When I got home, it would be pleasantly cool. Since my work hours varied widely, this worked better than the timer solution.

The obvious next step, which should be easy once I get the time: use my Motorola T900 two-way pager to send myself email which turns my air conditioner on and off. Granted, this probably isn't necessary, but it sure seems neat.

Welcome to the future.

Todo LIst (3)

bitva (206067) | more than 13 years ago | (#304108)

Things to do today:

1. Apply Service Pack 10 to NT machine
2. Run "apt-get update/upgrade" on Debian machine
3. Configure kernel on PDA
4. Defrag the toaster
5. Upgrade firewall on air conditioner
6. Setup Apache on microwave.

I can see my future is gonna be a pretty tight schedule.

This is a great idea (4)

zaf (5944) | more than 13 years ago | (#304109)

As a sys admin who is currently dealing with problems with the air conditioning system for my server room, I think it would be great to have a way to monitor and tune its performance remotely.
Can't wait for this to hit the states.

I couldn't resist. (5)

EvlPenguin (168738) | more than 13 years ago | (#304110)

What happen?
Someone set us up the thermostat.
We get hot.
A.C. turn on.
(it's you!!!)
How are you gentlemen?
All your appliance are belong to us.
You are on the way to the thermostat.
(what you say?)
You have no chace of comfort make your time.

...move thermostat.
You know what you doing.
Move down every thermostat.
For great comfort.

This is great!!! (5)

glebite (206150) | more than 13 years ago | (#304111)

My wife doesn't use the internet - I'll finally have complete control over the temperature...

This is truly a good day indeed for all who argue over temperature.

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