Control your world through SmartThings
Molly Philbin, Staff Writer
September 27, 2012
Filed under Opinion
SmartThings, a system that promises buyers to run their “world” with a touch on their smartphone, is a hot topic on Innovation Nation that everyone seems to be excited about. This new technology is a reminder of the 1999 Disney movie “Smart House,” where the entire home’s functioning was controlled through a detection system.
The new project idea—uploaded by Internet-based creative project funding platform Kickstarter—was launched Aug. 23 and received a funding of more than a million dollars from 5,694 backers, even though they only pledged for $250,000, according to the Kickstarter SmartThings website.
But, there are obvious dangers with a system on a smartphone that enables the user to control their “world.” It’s convenient to be able to lock the front door or shut off the air conditioner, while sitting in class, but imagine the consequences of losing your phone and someone holding the power to control your world from your smartphone?
“We’re going too far with technology,” said Santa Monica College student Joshua Alan, who also said that people should be getting out more and socializing, instead of just surrounding themselves with more and more technology in their lives.
SmartThings offers a system that connects everyday physical objects to a cloud-based control center. The sensors attached to these objects identify irregularities and an iPhone or Android smartphone will receive status updates on these changes. Predicted control-by-smartphone options include regulating air conditioning, locking doors, detecting plumbing issues and much more. Basically, you control your household machinery on your smartphone.
Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings said, in an article on CNN.com, that he had the idea for a system linking regular household items to the Internet after a power outage in his vacation home caused the basement pipes to explode. This inspired him to create SmartThings in order to help people have better control of their homes.
There are many advantages to this proposed system, such as conserving energy and water, and improved solutions to everyday expenses. But, some of the SmartThings apps like “Oh No, My Pet is Loose!” are just ridiculous and strange. Some of the apps that get added on SmartThings are really pointless, while others are more useful.
Inji Issac, SMC student, wasn’t happy knowing that the system would allow buyers to watch and hear what happens within their house on their smartphones and said that “that’s just creepy.” She felt too much control like that goes against privacy.
Aside from this system being “creepy,” there is also the issue of being able to control everything in one’s life by selecting a choice on a phone. For those who lose their phone frequently shouldn’t opt to install this system of fear that their lost phone may end up in the wrong hands. Placing that much power on a rectangular, pocket-sized piece of metal is insane and dangerous.
However, not everyone is as careless with their cellphones, so these worries don’t apply to them. If a possible buyer is not worried about the consequences of losing their phone, then they should consider if this system is a necessity in their every day lives.
Futhermore, if one has a wild imagination, then conceive an image of SmartThings developing a mind of it’s own and locking you in or out of your house like in the movie “Smart House.” But then again, being raised by a luddite-minded father, the worst thoughts come to mind with new technologies taking over the world. The idea of so much control on one device is not a pleasant thing.
A basic kit, one hub and three Thing sensors are currently starting at $174 on Kickstarter. Add-on Things cost $25 to $35 each, and eventually a monthly charge of $5 to $10 for SmartThings’ service will be enforced, according to CNNMoney. It is pretty costly but if people find advantages in having it, then it may be worth it for some and buyers will be lining up for it, otherwise it’s just too expensive and risky to use.
The SmartThings project currently has working prototypes of the key hardware and software components, and product distribution is scheduled for this Christmas. It will either change the way our homes function, giving users the power to control their homes from work or school. But, it can also endanger people’s privacy and security if they were to lose their phone and risk the consequences of having all their home’s functions on the phone.