IoT? Meet common sense

Written by on December 15, 2015 in Opinion with 3 Comments

no common senseOnce again the communications industry is over excited. It happens about once every 10 years, and normally ends in tears. Common sense is thrown to the wind and bubbles appear. And then, burst.

Unless we apply common sense to the IoT, we could be getting deja vue all over again.

Sadly, if we are betting on communications service providers to apply said common sense, “history is against them,” as Matt Hatton of Machina Research said recently. Indeed, as Graham Wilde cheekily agreed, “the future may be as well.”

Take examples from any of the most cited use cases.

Some believe that insurance premiums could be adjusted depending on how well you are driving. Sounds good? To us maybe. Not to an insurance underwriter.

The thought of working out a premium based on age, gender, driving history and postcode is exhausting enough. The thought of adjusting that premium based on how the customer is driving today is, to most underwriters, insane.

Some say that the trick is to buy your own telematics machine, record your driving performance and tout the results to several insurance companies for the best price. If you have that much time on your hands, to save a few bucks, be our guest, and very good luck to you.

As our colleague Tony Poulos points out, the connected toy that can be hacked is not a great idea. A Barbie doll that can have a conversation with a child, but that conversation can be taken over by a hacker? As a parent, would you buy the doll? Insane.

The connected kettle, fridge, toaster or coffee maker are no better. As we have said before, the makers of said kettle, fridge, toaster and coffee maker are no security experts. Imagine the look on the faces of the Product Managers when someone pointed out that hackers can gain access to the entire ‘smart home’ through the kettle. And through that gain access to the devices in the house, and from their the identities, passwords, bank account details and who knows what of the occupants of the house. Dumb. And insane.

Let us not even dwell on the person or persons unknown, now hopefully in hiding, who came up with the brilliant idea to make the safest safe known to man hackable by adding a USB port. Insane.

The ramifications of vulnerable medical devices and machines does not even bear thinking about. But you kind of can’t help it.

Let us hope that 2016 brings us joy, hope and a little common sense before we connect everything, and therefore make it vulnerable, expensive and stupid.

Sadly, history is still against us.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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  1. Bob says:

    Bah, humbug! Well yes… this is also typical of the response to any and every new technical innovation – a mad search for new places to apply it. I remember reading that, at the start of the industrial revolution, new innovations were similarly being applied to anything that couldn’t get out of the way fast enough, and steam-powered clocks were very much in vogue for a while.
    But it’s not all as stupid as that is it? While the connected fridge remains everyone’s go-to candidate for the Internet of Silly Things, the connected *medical* refrigerator that monitors life-critical changes in temperature could be very useful. And plenty of examples have emerged of connected devices being used to optimise the use of resources, from water to parking spaces, reducing waste and improving people’s lives. And surely it’s not beyond us to connect devices in a way that means the connected doorbell is not a threat to our whole existence?
    I continue to think that the IoT is the great driver for technological, commercial and behavioural change over the next ten years or so (before it beds in and just becomes How Things Are). The burning question remains ‘What’s Telcos Got To Do With It?’…

    • Alex Leslie says:

      Generally speaking we embrace the IoT. It is merely that if a manufacturer of coffee pots wants to connect it, he shouldn’t just stick a USB port on the side, but get someone who knows what he is doing to make sure you can’t hack the whole house….mind you, there is some seriously silly stuff being wired up – and some seriously useful stuff too. Happy Christmas.

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