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Smartphones: Life's Remote Control

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the if-only-there-were-a-mute-button-for-other-people dept.

Cellphones 121

An anonymous reader writes "This year's Consumer Electronics Show has shown off more interconnected devices than I would know what to do with. Not only are existing devices I use getting modern, Internet-connected interfaces (cars, ovens, and security systems, for example), but companies are now putting out addons for smartphones that replace existing ones (blood pressure and glucose monitors, for instance. An article at the NY Times points out that the smartphone is quickly becoming life's remote control — a portal through with you'll soon be able to control far more of your electric devices than you might expect (or care to). 'For several years, technology companies have promised the dream of the connected home, the connected body and the connected car. Those connections have proved illusory. But in the last year app-powered accessories have provided the mechanism to actually make the connections. That is partly because smartphones have become the device people never put down. But it is also because wireless sensors have become smaller, cheaper and ubiquitous.'"

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Link doesn't work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571353)

Subject says it all

Re:Link doesn't work (2)

smallfries (601545) | about 2 years ago | (#42571863)

The link is still broken so here are some semi-random thoughts on what kind of remote control I was looking for a few days ago. I want a reasonably accurate temperature sensor, not +- 1 or even 2 degrees C. I want +-0.1 degrees with a update frequency of about once a minute. Wireless with a 50-100m range to a base-station that can then log the data. I don't want some kind of "cloud service" where the base-station uploads my data to the maker's server. I don't want a closed proprietary interface. I want the battery in the sensor to last at least a year, and the sensors should be dirt cheap (less than $20) so that I can put one in every room in the house and map heat flow through the rooms.

Why does this not exist? We were building these kinds of devices in a lab ten years ago, I assumed they would have been commercialised by now. Instead the home automation products that I found were outrageously expensive and limited (proprietary interface to a private server, all access via web). There are no technical limitations, and the parts are cheap enough to make a decent margin on $20 for a PIC microchip, a Zigbee controller and an IC for temperature. It does seem weird that the market that exists for home automation is so distorted.

Re:Link doesn't work (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#42572111)

Until you described it, I didn't realize that I want one of those too.

How big was sensor part of the ones you built in the lab with the battery that last a year? Bigger or smaller than, say, a cell phone?

Hell yeah, I'd buy one of those right now.

Re:Link doesn't work (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 2 years ago | (#42572747)

About the size of an RFID. The temperature sensor was an off the shelf MEMS in an IC package, there was the main PIC as a processor and some other odds and ends to link it to the bus. We weren't using Ziggbee, but that is a single package now so I'm thinking the whole thing could be a lot smaller than a cell phone. The battery was just a watch battery (don't know what they are called, the little circular ones). The power draw from the processor, sensor and bus was practically zero. Essentially it is a question of how big a battery is needed to fire up the wireless once a minute and squirt out a packet.

Re:Link doesn't work (1)

nateb (59324) | about 2 years ago | (#42573341)

We call that a watch battery in the US, even if it is a 2032.

Re:Link doesn't work (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42572227)

I bought a multi-point weather clock that did that. The only issue was that it didn't interface with anything else. I used it to measure the humidity in the crawls space to air it out if it got too mold-friendly and for fun to keep an eye out on the outdoor conditions from my nightstand. But yes, it would have been nice to have the temp and humidity accessible on the computer, and logged for future use as well. The one I had isn't available anymore, but this link is for a similar one from the same company http://www.amazon.com/Oregon-Scientific-Forecaster-Wireless-Thermometer/dp/B000E5R7UM [amazon.com]

You're just too lazy to use google (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#42572821)

Why does this not exist?

Just Google zigbee temperature sensor.

Re:Link doesn't work (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 2 years ago | (#42573713)

This is exactly what I wanted for my home: to measure temperature/light/humidity with 4-5 various sensors placed around the house that transmit data wirelessly to a base station which is capable of logging / exporting / graphing the data in fairly standard ways, without the proprietary junk.

I was considering this controller [embeddeddatasystems.com] with some sensors, but at $150 each, it's a tad expensive. I could probably build it myself from some raspberry pi derivative, however I'd rather not reinvent everything from scratch.

I was really surprised not to find a much less expensive solution and an open source ecosystem that provides this kind of home monitoring solution (with the possibility to base some home automation on this)

Re:Link doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573781)

If you can find a MC with the temp integrate then there are lots of very cheap and easy to use sensors.
http://www.maximintegrated.com/products/1-wire/

Yeh it needs a microcontroller to handle the bus but you need one to handle the zigbee anyway. A few hundred bytes more code and you can handle anything on this 1-wire bus. Similarly you can handle most other serial protocols and the huge amount of very cheap sensors availale for them.

No the hardware is not expensive. The limted audience makes it expensive as a product.
At the moment (for buying single units of temp sensors) you can get the microcontroller for less than the cost of one (not by much (talking pennys here))
To handle the zigbee well requires a bit more memory on the processor. but still pennys)
To manfacture it for a limited market costs lots. (although many companies are just hoping the current status will change for the better for them it will not).

Cost of production for small quantities (less than 10,000) has reduced rapdly in the last decade. Cost of tooling for mass production is coming down (for these types of thing). The production tech is coagulating into a giant fur ball as the same hardware used for mass prod. and the hardware used for small runs become more similar.

Re:Link doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573195)

WFM. Is your Ethernet cable plugged in?

In Capitalist America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571357)

Smartphone remote controls YOU!

scond pst (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571359)

yeah

For those averse to being controlled... (1)

eksith (2776419) | about 2 years ago | (#42571381)

... by that guy who just wouldn't shut up or is just obnoxiously loud, I'll just leave this [wired.com] here.

so in other words (5, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42571399)

when I replace my phone in a couple years, I have to replace a bunch of other shit that magically wont work anymore

great plan, if you are not a consumer

Re:so in other words (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42571411)

And even if you don't, software incompatibilities may lead to the same result. It's starting to appear in digital cameras now. For example, the Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6 cameras add an ability to be remote-controlled by a smartphone: you can get a remote view through the viewfinder and trigger the shutter remotely. Kind of cool idea in principle. But the Android app doesn't work on the newest version of Android, and Sony hasn't given an indication of when they plan to release an update.

Re:so in other words (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571719)

Forward compatibility sounds like Google's problem, not Sony's.

Re:so in other words (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about 2 years ago | (#42572213)

I think you have that backwards.

Re:so in other words (2)

gaiageek (1070870) | about 2 years ago | (#42571987)

They'll release an update. It'll work with the newest camera and not yours. That's what you should expect when buying Sony.

Re:so in other words (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571997)

The way to solve this is to not have Sony supply the app at all. Instead, Android (and iOS, and whatever MS calls theirs now) should specify how the remotely-controllable device, e.g. camera, should declare its functions, controllable parameters, sensors, etc. and a protocol for controlling the device. Then any device conforming to the protocol can be controlled with a generic control app, either supplied with the OS or 3rd party.

But that's probably too much cooperation between too many huge corporations.

Re:so in other words (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#42572155)

"great plan, if you are not a consumer"

Not only that, but a lot of these things are silly ideas or worse. Sure, some might be good but others are not.

Do you REALLY want to give Mary Jo the ability to control her oven from some remote place? Who will pay to put out all the fires? And why the hell anybody would want their refrigerator connected to the Internet is beyond me, but if I recall correctly, Bill Gates suggested it about 15 years ago. Why???

I don't need my thermostat controlled by a smartphone. It does just fine on its own, thanks very much.

Re:so in other words (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#42572483)

cause, if you remember to set up your wifi, make an account, pay a monthly fee, and program it every time you go to the store I will tell you that your milk is going to go bad!

+1 internets

Re:so in other words (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#42572501)

let me correct you just a bit; you don't need WAN reachability (inbound, probably even outbound) from embedded networked systems.

but inside your home LAN? its not too bad to have remote control over things. ob disc: I design and build audio things that have networked back-ends and allow ip-based clients to manage them.

I have always emphasized that firewalling and security SHOULD be part of all embedded systems that are network-reachable. with cheap things like the rasp-pi, you could glue on an ip-stack with security and have that front-end your embedded system. no reason not to, anymore.

if you do at least reasonable security, having remote control over physical things is cool and useful. but never 'just throw things on the network' without knowing how to secure them, internally and externally.

Re:so in other words (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#42573387)

"you don't need WAN reachability (inbound, probably even outbound) from embedded networked systems."

You aren't correcting me, because I didn't claim you did need it. Please read again: I stated "... a lot of these things are silly". I didn't say all of them were, and I didn't elaborate.

But just so you are aware: I have seen proposals online to do things like remote control your oven and the like from work, or wherever you happen to be outside the home. And it's a bad idea.

Re:so in other words (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#42573547)

While you might not, it can be useful for other people I'm out of the house all day so I have zero interest in heating it then but it would be handy to be able to call up the central heating and get it to turn on and off so the house is warm when i get home.

    Your typical android phone has 2 i/o ports the usb otg port and the headphone jack. There is also wifi , bluetooth and telephony 3g ect. Thats a powerful collection of i/o

heres a little toy which works via the headphone jack

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/eb6e/ [thinkgeek.com]

It's just a robot controlled by infrared using the phone screen to control it.
USB has even greater potential with the phone having usb host mode.

I would be surprised if on here most people didn't have a 2nd smartphone which is mostly gathering dust. I have a galaxy mini on pay as you go and it has no credit on the sim but it is still on the 3g network and I can call it (needs 1 call every 6 months to keep the sim registered). If I can call it I can control it with the right software. Since it has wifi I can use it without the phone side anyway.

Isn't it really a useful small HMI interface, Ideal for re-purposing into any number of projects?

Kind of makes a raspberry PI seem a little over priced.

Grammar Nazi Attack (0, Flamebait)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#42571421)

I'm pretty sure that this is the third summary today with a comma before an 'and'.

I know, I should know better than to ask for proper grammar from our editors...

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (2)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#42571437)

I'm pretty sure that this is the third summary in the last few days with a comma before an 'and'.

FTFM

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1, Informative)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#42571477)

Just checked, make it the sixth summary in 24hrs. A couple of them had two ", and"s.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (3, Informative)

p0p0 (1841106) | about 2 years ago | (#42571483)

"Two specific situations call for the use of a comma before "and." The first is created when we have three or more items in a series."
Well that is embarrassing for you. Please try to learn the language before you claim to be a master of it.

http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/020204whencommabfand.htm [getitwriteonline.com]

Now since the English language is quite a flexible one and an overused comma is very common, most people tend to let that kind of thing go.
Unfortunately you chose to dwell on it, incorrectly it seems, and it lead to my great amusement.

Don't be an elitist, or an idiot.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (0)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#42571585)

You obviously didn't check the summaries from the last 24hrs then. There are MANY examples of series of two or less where there is a comma before the 'and'.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571691)

It's 'fewer' not 'less', idiot.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42573203)

Thank you!

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42571865)

You obviously didn't check the summaries from the last 24hrs then. There are MANY examples of series of two or less where there is a comma before the 'and'.

Yet you decided to complain about the one where the oxford comma was used correctly. Next time go post your grammar complaint as a response to the story that you are actually complaining about.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#42571937)

That's fair enough, I can't argue with that, the only reason I mentioned it was because I noticed so many examples in one day...

I probably didn't help my cause by triple posting either!

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42573211)

So you were off-topic AND wrong. Congratulations!

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571611)

Your confusion over "lead" and "led" led to my great amusement.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (-1, Offtopic)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#42571713)

Here are some examples from the last 24hrs:

So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.

He is best known for co-authoring the widely-used RSS 1.0 specification when he was 14, and as one of the early co-owners of Reddit.

After news broke on Thursday that a new Java 0-day vulnerability had been discovered, and was already being included in multiple popular exploit kits, two new important tidbits have come in on Friday.

Meanwhile, writes reader Beeftopia, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is getting in on the action, and "has warned users to disable or uninstall Java software on their computers, amid continuing fears and an escalation in warnings from security experts that hundreds of millions of business and consumer users are vulnerable to a serious flaw."

Hopper debuted at number five in the list of Top500 supercomputers, and can crunch numbers at the petaflop level.

But there is a market for Lamborghinis, and there is a market for computer cases that cost as much as a complete low-end computer.

Also this one:

When Android was first introduced, it got much of its buzz in the open source community, and despite it being a mobile juggernaut backed by huge companies, it remains an open source project that anyone can submit code to.

You could argue this is a series of three except that every single comma in that sentence is unnecessary

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571969)

Your first, penultimate, and (notice what I did there) last examples are grammatically correct. The comma ", and" separates two clauses that can stand alone as sentences. The others are so trivial that only a pedant would complain.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

nateb (59324) | about 2 years ago | (#42573373)

That is what we're here for.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

nateb (59324) | about 2 years ago | (#42573379)

That is why we are here. Your choice.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42573219)

I'm sorry, we seem to have mistaken you for someone who has a life (and a knowledge of grammar).

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

Elbereth (58257) | about 2 years ago | (#42571501)

So? There's nothing wrong with that.

Out of all the problems in the summary, I'm surprised that you attacked it for something that's not even truly wrong.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571623)

"...a portal through with you'll soon be able to..."? Of course the one and only link is broken too.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 2 years ago | (#42571899)

Although the summary is inconsistent--in one sentence they use the Oxford comma, in another they do not. While the Oxford comma is debatable (DEATH TO THE INFIDELS WHO DENY ITS GLORY!), to be inconsistent about it is something that all grammar nazis can agree is wrong.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

Elbereth (58257) | about 2 years ago | (#42572625)

Seeing as how there's only a single submitter, your use of a plural pronoun seems to indicate that you advocate a "singular they" [wikipedia.org] .

I find your heresy to be an abomination.

Re:Grammar Nazi Attack (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 2 years ago | (#42572725)

I was thinking of submitter + editor(s), but since the editors are actually Mechanical Turks, I must concede your point that there was only a single entity involved.

Counter attack... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 2 years ago | (#42571733)

I see nothing wrong with that comma, and I have a reference [getitwriteonline.com] to back it up.

IR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571453)

Does this mean more phones will come with universal IR emmitters too?

Re:IR (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42571593)

Near field communication maybe, or wifi. Or maybe your command for your sony TV goes to sony.com who relay it to your TV if they approve of your viewing choices.

Re:IR (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#42571639)

Some of the Samsung tablets already do, and I'm quite surprised that more Android phones don't have them. It's an extremely handy thing in a tablet at least, where space isn't at quite such a premium.

Re:IR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571763)

What ever happened to IR transceivers? It used to be in the past that almost every device (PDA, smartphone, even calculators) had an IR port. Yes, the older IrDA standards were fairly slow, but their protocols have improved over time, and are on par with at least BlueTooth if not slow wireless.

Sounds good until.. (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#42571489)

Sounds good until you replace your phone, which if you are like a lot of people is every 2 years at minimum because phones change. On the other hand, let's see what all the devices I've got that use remotes:

1) A VCR that was purchased about 23 years ago
2) A DVD player bought in 2001
3) A PS3 bought in 2008 used for Blu-Ray (yeah, I know I can play DVDs on it, but the PS3 frequently goes between the upstairs and downstairs TV)
4) A TV bought back in 2005
5) A cable box that I think I got in 2008-ish
6) An old stereo that is about 20 years old

Assuming that tomorrow I upgrade all those things to something that I can use my Smartphone with, and assuming I keep my devices (aside from my phone) for as long as I have, how long before my phone won't have an application to communicate with them? Already we have problems with specialty applications such as remotes not working with the newest version of Android, mix that with hardware changes and you've got something that will only work for a few years before a key feature becomes obsolete. And given that there's few reasons to upgrade generic appliances unlike something like a phone, you've got an expensive featureset that won't be able to be used for most of the device's lifespan.

Re:Sounds good until.. (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 2 years ago | (#42571577)

I think you've just convinced the people who make all of those things (the ones that are still made, that is) to switch to smartphone remotes. Their costs go down if they don't have to include a remote, and your having to buy again when they don't upgrade the remote app for future smartphone OS releases is right out of the planned obsolescence playbook. Win-win - for them.

Re:Sounds good until.. (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#42571807)

1. touchscreen remotes SUCK if you use them more than every once in a while. Primarily because you have to switch focus between looking at the touchscreen and the device you are controlling
2. how much control of your home do you want to give to 'random person who finds/steals your phone'

Re:Sounds good until.. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42572373)

How much use is it if I change my locks and WiFi keys the day after a burglary? They'll log in at their home and auto-discover nothing useful (unless they stole my devices when they robbed my house). Random person stealing my phone, assuming it was unlocked, can't "remotely" control any of my devices. 192.168.0.31 won't work my device from wherever they try to get on.

Re:Sounds good until.. (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#42571811)

Oh shit. So instead of multiple physical remotes, we can now look forward to multiple virtual remotes? *puke*

Re:Sounds good until.. (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 2 years ago | (#42574647)

I'll sell you a multiple virtual remote organizer app ...

Re:Sounds good until.. (2)

crow (16139) | about 2 years ago | (#42571721)

This is an argument for open protocols. As long as the protocols are open, there's hope of a good solution long after the vendor has gone out of business, and the brand has been licensed to three other companies (e.g., RCA).

Of course, you're still dependent on having hardware that will do the communications protocol, but Bluetooth and WiFi will be around for a long time with backwards compatibility (much like USB).

Still, I would love to have an IR transmitter on my phone so that I could use it as a remote for older devices, particularly TVs in restaurants.

Re:Sounds good until.. (3, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#42571973)

This is an argument for open protocols.
My vote for first protocol is a separate ON versus OFF command. No more of this toggle ON/OFF. If you use a smart remote and it thinks the ON/OFF is toggled differently then it is, then it is frustrating as heck. Simply let your ON be ON and your OFF be OFF and you will have no problems.

Re:Sounds good until.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573575)

Obviously, there is room for both a ON, Off and Toggle ON/OFF command in the fucking protocol space people...

Re:Sounds good until.. (1)

nateb (59324) | about 2 years ago | (#42573395)

Disable automatic updates. You will not progress into the future without your consent!

Re:Sounds good until.. (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#42574007)

Sounds good until you replace your phone, which if you are like a lot of people is every 2 years at minimum because phones change.

such people should be ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES.

keeping electronics *only* two years is a sin. you think landfills need our help to fill up? they're not filling fast enough so we should throw *more* away?

I fully hate that attitude.

if you are throwing a good phone (not dead, not broken) away after 2 years, you should reevaluate what you really are and why you have this compulsion.

go off contract, buy your phone and own it for 5 yrs. there's nothing wrong with that. buy a real phone (not some nonsupported 'freebie' that they want you to rebuy over and over again) and you won't find the NEED to dispose of it. believe me, if you pay for it (and not 'get it free') you won't be so eager to landfill it after 2 yrs.

the whole attitude makes me sick. I cry for those who think its OK to chuck stuff that works and will continue to work just because you has to haz the new shiney.

then again, YOU guys will live in the world of landfills. I'm getting old, but you guys will have to live in the world of trash that you are slowly but surely creating.

Can't read TFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571511)

The stupid IBM popup ad hovers over part of the summary and it can't be dismissed in Firefox.

Re:Can't read TFS (2)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 2 years ago | (#42571877)

The stupid IBM popup ad hovers over part of the summary and it can't be dismissed in Firefox.

I'm running firefox, and I do not see any pop up ad. Of course, I am on 3.6 with ab+, no script, and a few other goodies.

Re:Can't read TFS (1)

nateb (59324) | about 2 years ago | (#42573409)

You, Sir, are a scholar and a gentleman.

What do you expect to happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571519)

As far as technology has come in the last 20 years, just imagine what's around the corner. The only real thing standing in the way of greater innovation and more conveniences for modern man is corporate greed. Proprietary connectors, apps, subscriptions, etc etc. It's not enough to sell you a device, but to make sure that should you break it, or a piece of it, you pay a 2000% markup for replacement cables. It's not enough to sell you a device, but also charge you to use it while you possess it. Whatever.

Re:What do you expect to happen? (2, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | about 2 years ago | (#42571781)

I don't own a smartphone and never will. Hell, I got my first cell phone only last year when I was forced to have a way to communicate when on the road and there are no pay phones anymore. I just don't see the draw in these expensive toys. I got the most stupid phone on the planet (and the cheapest non-contract prepaid one to boot) and I use it *GASP* as a phone! Nothing more. I may rarely send a text but all-in-all I can even do without that. Everything I've been reading about those phones leads me to believe they are too invasive to my privacy for my likes. Most of the time my phone is off (not that it is really off without removing the battery). Everything from geolocation for targeted advertising to the phone provider themselves profiting off the phone's always on monitoring is disturbing to me.

Then the stories like this comes along. Anything that can be remotely controlled by you can also be remotely controlled by someone else. Whether that someone else is good or bad is irrelevant. The fact that they can control it is bad enough for me. So now my crotchety ass will have to check to ensure my other household appliances are just as stupid as my phone is.

Still too expensive to add wifi (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42571637)

I don't know of a solution to put wifi control into an appliance for less than about fifty bucks, even as a DIYer. Maybe you could do it with a pogoplug for around thirty, but if you want decent range make that thirty-five. (they have a little GPIO, you can run a relay and read the status of one or two circuits easily and cheaply enough...) But with new parts it'll cost substantially more. None of my stereo stuff supports anything other than IR or some wacky proprietary stuff none of which works together, and I'd guess that's the case for most people out there. My TV has HDMI CEC hardware but no support for it. My stereo is Sony and doesn't speak the same protocol as my VCR which is Sony (both are old enough to predate Sony's rootkits, killing Lik-Sang, etc) and neither of them will speak to my SHARP TV...

Re:Still too expensive to add wifi (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 2 years ago | (#42571957)

http://dx.com/p/mini-usb-2-4ghz-150mbps-802-11b-g-n-wifi-wireless-network-card-adapter-black-120933?Utm_rid=20144190 [dx.com]

If there is USB support this should work for around $6. Probably crap range though

Re:Still too expensive to add wifi (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42572321)

If there is USB support this should work for around $6. Probably crap range though

They have a unit with an external antenna which would be more suitable for $10. But that only covers the USB dongle. Now you also need something capable of talking to it. The cheapest thing I know of which can do it justice is a Raspberry Pi.

Re:Still too expensive to add wifi (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#42574051)

I would not add wifi to every device.

the design I like is an embedded system connected over serial to a real IP host system that does firewalling, access control, etc.

if you are local, you can use serial TTL. if you are a little remote (but same house) you can link with zigbee modems. they are like wire-emulators but using rf half-links between each, like a bridge. you send serial-TTL in and you the the same out, error-corrected and even encrypted if you want. with a bunch of those, you can remotely control embedded systems with a single local IP host controller.

xbee modems tend to be $20 or so, but in qty, I bet it would go down.

you could also use cheaper rf modems. or even powerline wiring to send data across.

but I like keeping the embedded systems very light and using 'simple' connections to manage and control them.

I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42571657)

So far, Microsoft's response to everything is to try to make Win32 run on it. This has been demonstrated to present a number of problems not the least of which is the inability to run on lower-powered electronics and is still vulnerable to the same old exploits regardless of which processor it runs on.

I have been repeating the same old prediction -- that the computer in your pocket will become the computer you use everywhere, that depending on where you are, it will have different interfaces, inputs and outputs. CES is apparently showing it all to be true... at least so far. But Microsoft doesn't appear to be responding in any meaningful way.

I suppose it's possible that some skunkworks program in Microsoft's darkest R&D halls may be cooking up an answer, but it would seem to be a bit late. By the time they have any serious response to the new computing style, the market will already be dominated and owned by Google's Android, Microsoft won't get so much as a shrug.

They should have started building something new YEARS and years ago instead of recycling Win32 at every new cycle of Windows. At the very least they should have divided their resources where one part keeps Business and Win32 going while the other half moves on to the new mobile computing thing. They have LOTS of money so I have little doubt they could have done it. Why they think they have to move everything all in the same direction is beyond me. I picture a giant amoeba desperately trying to move in one direction where its own mass and inertia prevents it from making any difference.

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571671)

They should have started building something new YEARS and years ago instead of recycling Win32 at every new cycle of Windows.

like Windows RT [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42571725)

Windows RT is a recycled Win32 OS as well. Did you miss the article posted here on Slashdot discussing how RT was jailbroken using a classic Win32 exploit?

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571787)

I think of Win32 as the API layer, it's front door of the OS that has thousands of functions and COM interfaces that Bill Gates and Jim Allchin made deliberately obtuse so that Windows would be impossible to clone by an external team (like one led by Miguel de Icaza). The jailbreak exploit was specialized Windows kernel code for authenticating external binaries before launch. "Windows" is part of the name "Windows RT", after all.

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#42571829)

What the fuck have you been smoking? Mono is *NOT* win32. Gnome is not win32. What else has Miguel done that _is_ win32?!

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571853)

You misread. I said Gates and Allchin wanted to prevent someone with Miguel's temperament from successfully cloning Win32, because there are just too many fucking APIs. And nobody has, and it really helped Microsoft's monopoly all through the '90s and into the 2000's. Well, now it's working against them. Win32 on x86 is an architectural nightmare and they're stuck supporting all those APIs for compatibility. Now they wish they had the 200 system calls that Linux has, or whatever the number is.

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572143)

"Oh... to eat pizza again..." by erroneus (253617) on Saturday December 22, @05:20PM (#42371769) from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3335159&cid=42371769 [slashdot.org] eat a salad, lardball!

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573323)

More insightful from the anonymous troll which from time to time assumes the identity "APK".

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#42571983)

the computer in your pocket will become the computer you use everywhere, that depending on where you are, it will have different interfaces, inputs and outputs. CES is apparently showing it all to be true... at least so far. But Microsoft doesn't appear to be responding in any meaningful way.
No, Microsoft is going the other way. You will have computers everywhere and regardless of where the computer is or how big or small or for what purpose, it will have the SAME interfaces, inputs and outputs, not matter how inconvenient, anti-intuitive and frustrating it is to the user.

Re:I wonder if Microsoft is paying attention (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572127)

"Oh... to eat pizza again..." by erroneus (253617) on Saturday December 22, @05:20PM (#42371769) from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3335159&cid=42371769 [slashdot.org] eat a salad, lardball!

I'd like a dumber phone. (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 2 years ago | (#42571695)

Just give me a phone I can open ports on and run a lisp image and X. As long as devices speak open protocols I can speak to any device.

Or at least something that can run an X server that can send multitouch back to a client

Not for long (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571715)

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Treason (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571813)

If President Obama through Executive Order raises the U.S.A. National Debt Limit, then his action is a Treasonable Action, and after arrest, arraignment, incarceration, detention, torture, litigation, torture, trial, torture and final appeal with torture would be subject to death, by hanging, or lethal injection (of a death rendering substance to the blood stream .. can be quite painful), or by firing squad (very quick and clean) ... the body would be thrown into a grinder and the bits of the remains be burned on sight and then the ashes be rendered to a public dump in a far far away location ... like the Sun ... a very good usage of NASA's illicit funds from the George (Johnny) Walker Bush debacle.

The observant reader will notice 'torture' in the text. Very good. Obama loves and lives for ... torture. So, we much do our best to render him to his most beloved ... excitement.

LoL and gage with a spoon with a nose around the neck and masturbating ! Cheer O*Ba*Ma. Oh dearie dearie the French Air Forces ... Mali ...
Such a pity. ;P Tear in the Eye. ....

Running in circles, now in color! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571893)

I believe my Palm IIIx had most of the functionally required. Now we have fancy smartphones that can't even change the channel on a TV.

The Dude said it best. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572019)

Yeah, well I still jerk off manually.

Dear slashdot... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572077)

Just out of curiosity, if someone posted information here that facilitated an assassination or was a formula for how to kill lots of people quickly, would slashdot merely mod it to -1 and hope no one works that little slidey-bobber up top?

I was checking to see if a comment i was about to make was redundant, and slid the comment content filter control over to -1 to make sure no one had already written what I was about to post, and noticed that some tinfoilhat-wearer had posted a nonsensical, rambling rant about Obama. It was modded to -1, naturally.

My question however, is this: is there no provision for simply deleting such posts, rather than simply modding them to -1? Or perhaps removing them from slashdot and forwarding them along with the IP address, etc. of the poster to the FBI? I understand that some might object to such a practice as censorship, but I'm not talking about an opinion I disagree with, or a wildly unpopular or offensive one, I'm talking about some wacko who posts in a thread about Smartphones becoming the Remote Controls of Life, a long and rambling message about Obama and torture that doesn't have anything to do with the thread.

It's not even like it's conversational drift, where someone mentions that Obama has (or had) a Blackberry, and then someone else says "You know, Hitler had a Blackberry..." as a joke, then someone else ran with it...

No, this is just out of the blue... kinda like this:

Poster 1: Wow, I have noticed that about smartphoens! I can remote control call my friends! Or I dial a number, and say, "hey, I want a pizza," and BAM, 35 minutes later, PIZZA arrives at my door! It's effin magic!
Poster 2: I wish I could control my neighbor's dog with my smartphone, but it just says, "Error: device not hound!"
Poster 3: Yeah, I sawy that they have an app now that lets you unlock your car with the phone. That means if I lose my phone, I could lose my car too. Would particularly suck if my phone was stuck IN MY CAR!
Poster 4: Obama is a torturer torture torture NAZI obama torture...

etc.

It's weird, and the person who posted that (look at the -1 posts, and you'll see it...) is probably a deranged psychopath, whom the FBI should contact immediately if not sooner. Just sayin'.

Centralization of control invites attack. (1)

PacRim Jim (812876) | about 2 years ago | (#42572215)

How easy it will be to commandeer another's life by hacking their master controller (i.e., smart phone). Centralization of control invites attack.

Re:Centralization of control invites attack. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42573539)

Their phone isn't the master controller. The central server is.

Forget Security (3, Interesting)

eyegone (644831) | about 2 years ago | (#42572325)

Remember that none of this stuff will work if you have even the faintest hint of security on your home network.

Don't even think about putting your spiffy new never-patched, Internet accessing, firewall-less "smart" devices on a separate subnet from your WiFi if you want to actually use these features.

What should i control remotly in my home? (3, Insightful)

drolli (522659) | about 2 years ago | (#42572347)

a) Heating: Best done on schedule, and automaticlaly controlled. The savings from adjusting to your fluctuation of getting home are miniscule

b) Light? No need to remotly control it.

c) Kitchen devices: The only thing i could imagine would be turnign on the coffee machine before you wake up - and that is not remote control. All other things require manual intervention.

I mean I could imagine that filling the bathtub may be an applicaiton.

Re:What should i control remotly in my home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573223)

I can think of some ideas: Security systems, package delivery or grocery delivery, heating/cooling systems that work out for themselves when your on holiday or out for weekend, home phone that diverts when nobody is in; but I think you're right that what's on display now is redundant. My hope is that more useful applications will come about as tech comes into homes.

Re:What should i control remotly in my home? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42573549)

Security systems

If there is one thing you definitely don't want to be remotely controllable, it's security systems.

package delivery or grocery delivery

This is done by the delivery services; what would you remote-control there?

heating/cooling systems that work out for themselves when your on holiday or out for weekend

That doesn't need remote control. Put sensors in each room which detect if someone is there.

home phone that diverts when nobody is in

See above.

Where is the IR? (1)

jacks smirking reven (909048) | about 2 years ago | (#42572355)

The part I have never never quite gotten is why its so rare to fine IR transmitters in modern devices. This would ensure near total compatibility with all home AV gear. I know space is at a premium in these things but surely such a handy and simple thing would be worth it for the value add. The add ons i have seen are expensive or clunky, and thebbedt ones seem to be IOS based.

Networking Devices (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about 2 years ago | (#42572535)

So I realize that the internet, bluetooth, and 2G signals are ways of getting devices to interact with each other, but is there any centralized off-the-shelf solution for conglomerating feeds and getting things to talk with each other, or does everything require customized approaches for receiving and working with the data in any way?

It's good within limits (2)

santosh.k83 (2442182) | about 2 years ago | (#42572639)

Like most other technology, a connected home is a good convenience within strict limits. I feel veering towards both extremes of universal connectivity and knee-jerk rejection born from fear are both not good. Each person must think things through and decide what they desire for themselves and market forces shouldn't dictate things. There's also a certain joy in doing things manually and not sitting uselessly like a lump of flesh surrounded by a sea of robots, feeling useless. Life is there in small tasks too, not just grand flights of fancy.

Going the way of 3D (3, Insightful)

Xugumad (39311) | about 2 years ago | (#42573169)

I don't even know where to start with how bad an idea this is. Going to try, though:

There's nothing stopping you from doing this already (for example using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_(industry_standard) [wikipedia.org] ) - the fact that many people don't is primarily because it's expensive and the result isn't actually that useful. Heating controls are already sufficiently advanced to know that I want to have the house at a certain temperature when I'm likely to be around it, and I don't really want to micro-manage my heating. I can see use to having lighting turn on just before I get home, but that's about it; there's no way in hell I want to be digging through menus on my smartphone just to turn the light on/off.

Appliances tend to require manual intervention anyway; a toaster requires bread, a cooker requires food, the coffee maker coffee... I might as well set them up while I'm there.

TV/DVD player - okay, we're getting somewhere at least. However, you are going to be physically present when you want to use these devices, and they're easily controlled by well designed, purpose-specific devices of an appropriate device (remote controls). I can actually control my TV from my tablet; I believe I did this twice, once to discover I could, and a second time to show someone else.

Life's remote control? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42573209)

So I can use it to control my heart beat, blood pressure, etc.?
Or someone else's?

Luckily there's Sprint! (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#42573973)

So you're always safe and secure. Sprint's data network is a Fisher-Price fake network that works in maybe 3 cities in America so you're always assured of complete security.

It's really about...Money. (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | about 2 years ago | (#42574377)

The real issue here is Money. Simple.

Vendors out there can produce a product without the expensive user-interfacing bits. A couple hundred dollar item is available for them to leverage their sale of inexpensive software. Add on the fact that consumers are in the mood to spend money quickly on smartphone-related items and bang, money maker!

Never mind how crappy these products turn out. I mean, take a look at a Radio Control car monitoring system, where a phone is used to display and interface. LIkely the phone might get dropped taking it in/out of the radio or some other damage? Nah!

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