Does anybody want any (smart) toast?

Ok I admit it. With the Internet of Things barging onto the agenda of this month’s Mobile World Congress, where keynotes bear starkly sci-fi (and even slightly frightening) names such as “Rise of the Machines: Enabling the evolution from M2M to the Internet of Things,” and the recent announcement that 2014’s Broadband World Forum will be integrating IoT developments into its next agenda, the world looks set to change yet again, and not insignificantly.

Yes, the Internet of Things is finally ready to explode.

It was time to knock heads with blogeague Benny Har-Even, to discuss the potential complications the anticipated explosion of connected gizmos could precipitate.

“Benny,” I ask. “With the anticipated growth of the IoT, how can operators who offer connected home products ensure the same quality of experience over multiple devices?”

“Bandwidth is clearly key here, “Benny says. “But not just at the home gateway end – but also on the backhaul side, as data delivery needs to be consistent, especially for video and time sensitive VoIP packets. Intelligent devices that can analyse the demand on the network and prioritise traffic as required would also be highly beneficial to maintaining that experience across devices.”

I guess the spread of affordable IoT will occur in a fashion somewhat resembling that flick Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, only with mundane objects standing in for the poor dupes of Santa Mira, California.

What – you think that there’s a mere toaster? Gonna burn your toast, clamp it between its jaws, and reduce you to hovering above it with the butter knife like a namby-pamby street fighter, knowing you shouldn’t but ever-so-tempted to slip that blade into the blackened crust and spring your snack loose?

Think again, fool! That there is now a Smart Toaster, and the possibilities are endless.

smart toast

Let’s say you had the sudden impulse, mid-toasting, to go for a shower, and you were, like, already upstairs – using your iPad, you could turn the heat right, right, right down on the toaster, so that, by the time you got to the kitchen, your toast was burned, wedged in, and ready for you to go through the eternal butter knife dance.

So yeah, groovy, the Smart Toaster. The Smart Everything! The future is now, and it’s super-duper convenient.

Seriously though. Is it as simple as this? Are home networks prepared for the influx of connected devices? Will a connected fridge telling you when to top up your milk curdle your bandwidth? Are home gateways fully prepared? Back to Benny…

“Operators need to move their standard equipment to faster standards such as 802.11ac to ensure there is enough local bandwidth to cope with the increasing number of connected devices in the home,” “he said, rather earnestly, I thought. “As the key gateway for the home they also need to ensure these devices are tried, tested and robust. As far as your fridge wanting to top up your milk supply though – it’s not so much bandwidth issues as logistical ones with work needed to be done with wider integration into third-party systems. I.e. your fridge doesn’t have to tell you it hass run out of milk – it has to tell your supermarket shopping list, so that you don’t have to remember.”

“And then, from another perspective” I go on, “isn’t this whole IoT thing just a bit… dangerous?”

“Who do you mean?”

“Well,” I say, “I’ve been thinking about the Smart Toaster, right. It could, for one, be all too easily be transformed into a weapon.”

Benny just looks at me.

“No kidding! Think how easy it would be start a fire with a Smart Toaster, if you were competent hacker.”

Benny continues to only look.

Red Dwarf’s Lister reveals the dangers of smart kitchen appliances…


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