Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
AI Google Microsoft Privacy Security Apple

Ask Slashdot: Can You Have A Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'? 183

With the announcement of Google Home on Wednesday, one anonymous Slashdot reader asks a timely question about cloud-based "remote control" services that feed information on your activities into someone else's advertising system: In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever -- just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share?

How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?) Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind?

Yesterday one tech company asked its readers, "What company do you trust most to always be listening inside your home?" The winner was "nobody", with 63% of the votes -- followed by Google with 16%, and Apple with 13%. (Microsoft scored just 3%, while Amazon scored 2%.) So share your alternatives in the comments. What's the best way to set up home automation without sending data into the cloud?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Can You Have A Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'?

Comments Filter:
  • [] https://jasperproject.github.i... [] Neither use Google Voice, and all processimng stays inside the PI, you can also buy RELAY boards that plug into the PI to support home automation. [] example above, but there are many others.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2016 @08:44AM (#52154951)

    Karl Denninger, the guy who writes market-ticker, has done just that, and for the same reason subby has expressed.

    His post expressing his reasons for rolling his own -

    And where to get it -

    Runs on a Raspberry PI 2

  • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @08:46AM (#52154975) Homepage
    If they need to phone home for some reason (usually vendor provided data aggregation and presentation) then you are pretty much screwed. If you are more selective about your devices and choose wisely so that all the useful functionality you need can be provided without Internet access, then it's fairly easy if you know what you are doing:
    1. Set up a dedicated LAN (wired and/or wireless, as required), with it's own IP range, SSID, etc.
    2. Put all your "smart" devices on this LAN
    3. Deny all outbound access from this LAN to any other network
    4. Allow inbound access to this LAN from specific IPs within your main network only, or a VPN termination point (higher-end home routers that terminate open standard VPN protocols are great here, otherwise look into *Nix boxes or other appliances like some NAS appliances that can do so)
    5. Access your data, reasonably sure that they are not phoning home

    Depending on the device maker, you may also be able to selectively allow outbound access for firmware patching while still blocking all the other data farming, although you may need to do a little digging into the config and/or traffic capture to do this. Devices will often use the same domain for everything though, and all too often the same hostname, so you might need something capable of URL level filtering to get this working.

    Of course, none of that does anything to really protect you from some of the abysmal security that many IoT type devices have on them; e.g. backdoors or other exploitable interfaces that are available over WLANs that enable you to access the device remotely and extract the pre-shared key for your WLAN (see above about putting all this stuff on a dedicated WLAN?), change configuration options, and so on. It's also worth noting that sites like Shodan will also let the bad actors geolocate devices that have known vulnerabilities to them so they can go for a far more targetted war-driving session than used to be the case where it was more of a "see what is out there, and maybe get lucky" exercise.

    • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

      Is it really 'the cloud' that's the problem - or is it just that funding it all through advertising is the problem. If Google had all the data it currently has, but used it strictly for providing its services - and you paid for those services rather than letting Google place ads based on what it knows about you, would that be less of an issue?

      Because the type of services we're talking about are certainly enhanced by the ability to search the internet - and do that as effectively as possible from any locati

      • When the government and it's stooges go around saying that the NSA phone spying is not violating anyone's civil rights because it is business records owned by the businesses, the data is the problem- period.

      • by Nonesuch ( 90847 )

        Many cloud-tethered products have no documentation for their protocols, no supported way to modify the firmware, and use public-key encryption to make it very difficult to "spoof" the cloud service so you can run them without talking to the vendor's proprietary server. Many vendors have realized that consumers will shop on price and ignore privacy. For example, Y-cam used to manufacture IP cameras, but based on feedback from customers now only offers a smart cloud-based security solutions, in both free a

    • I've constantly tried maintaining requirements for my SW to work from behind
      a proxy. Game manufacturers are probably the worst, but a huge hit in privacy -- I like the idea of a "smart home", -- but I want to control it from my home computer --- not a "smart phone". As near as I could tell, most of the home automation products will only work / can only be operated from one of their apps that you can get for various smartphones. None of them that I looked at had any way to record, control or analyze the

  • I can't say about using proprietary, premade devices like Nest, but if you're willing to use Arduinos/ESP8266/whatnot and do a bit of programming you can use an OpenWRT-based router to run an MQTT-broker, or you can use a separate device like e.g. a Raspberry Pi for that and then Arduino/ESP8266/whatever for toggling of relays or logging power-consumption or temperatures or whatever you want automated. You don't actually have to connect any of the stuff to the Internet at all, or you can use an MQTT-client over an SSH-tunnel, or write your own front-end using Apache2 and PHP or a billion different other ways if you want it reachable from the Internet, too -- you have full control over what can and what can't be done over the Internet or if any of it can be accessed from the Internet at all.

    This is, however, obviously the hard, DIY way of doing it. If you want an easy plug-and-pray system I have no idea if there even exists anything that doesn't share your stuff with 3rd parties. I, not-so-surprisingly, am in favour of the hard way that doesn't share everything with random, greedy 3rd-parties.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @09:31AM (#52155133) Journal
      You can mix & match with the right selection of components. I use the following, and I won't hesitate to recommend it:

      - For generic Home Automation stuff, use Z-Wave: a non-open radio protocol that has proven to be pretty robust. Z-Wave devices form a mesh network so range generally isn't a problem. And with the latest version of the standard, some security has been added as well. There are tons of items out there: switches, dimmers, thermostats, locks, sensors, remotes, and so on, from many brands, in many ranges of prices and quality.

      - You need a Z-Wave hub, and again you have several choices that do not require the cloud: Homeseer (reliable but you get nickle & dimed to death for addons, and it's less accessible to tinkering), Vera (pretty reliable, and best of all it is open to tinkering. You can write your own plugins for this hub and there is an active community of plugin developers), or OpenHAB + a Z-Wave stick (Open! But using it is still somewhat reminiscent of installing Linux in its early days). I am currently using a Vera hub

      - Your hub needs to be able to address non Z-wave devices. Most hubs do this with plugins, allowing you to include these in your setup: WiFi-enabled thermostats, Philips Hue bulbs, Alarm systems, anything networked that has an API, really.

      - For your DYI devices, use Arduino + a NRF24L01 radio module running the MySensors libraries. MySensors is an open DYI project using Arduinos, having them form a reliable mesh radio network (way better than WiFi), and you can build pretty much anything you can imagine with it, usig the libraries and a handful of lines of code. MySensors interfaces nicely with Vera, there's a plugin that will expose MySensors devices like switches and sensors as native Vera devices, allowing you to use them in scenes. For the MySensors gateway to be used with Vera, I recommend using an Ethernet Arduino for maximum reliability.

      Oh, and for anything that needs to be somewhat reliable, avoid WiFi devices. WiFi is not a very good HA platform.
      • Yes. The z-wave/vera platform has been working very well for me. I'm enjoying all the third party tinkertoys.
      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        This is how IoT should be done across the board. I have pleaded with several IoT startups to go hub and spoke, just so they reduce their attack surface, but because it is cheap to just open up to cellular or Wi-Fi, they just open the device to the Internet, since it is so easy to go that route with commodity hardware, and yet again, I get told that "security has no ROI".

        The only thing I wish there were a wireless protocol for, would be for block access. Something like a wireless iSCSI. This sounds stupid

    • There's a ton of building automation stuff out there that will do exactly what you ask it to, and nothing more.

      This one is open source for the controller code, and the desktop environment. []

      I've used many of these, and they work great! Flexible analog inputs and outputs can be configured for 0-10 VDC or 4-20 mA, and there's a terminal block for each input and output that provides power and ground connections for easy hookup.


      • Hate to reply to myself, but here's a better link []

        The other link is just remote I/O without a processor.

    • Universal Devices ISY series do a pretty good job; after setup I just let it get an internal NTP server and it is pretty happy. It can be a unified platform for Insteon, Sonos, Hue, etc., with a little bit of work. They charge for add-ons, but the simplicity is nice.

  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @08:51AM (#52154989)

    Since this "smart" home stuff began to emerge, I've always wondered what the great thing about it was. I personally do not mind having to leave the chair to turn on the lights, or having to carry physical keys with me to unlock the door. Nor do I mind having a "dumb" fridge where I have to think of the stuff to buy myself.

    As a proper slashdotter, I spend a big chunk of my time in front of a screen, so I'm no way non-digital. Still I don't see any benefits in a "smart" home.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Next you'd have us getting up to change the channel ... blasphemy!

      • Remote controls for TV devices make sense: Most times if you turn lights off/on you either enter a room or leave it, and for that you already have to get up. But when watching TV you most likely sit or lie, and want to change the channel. The only time where you want to turn on the lights and don't stand already is twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. But that I think I can live with.

        • by unrtst ( 777550 )

          Remote controls for TV devices make sense: Most times if you turn lights off/on you either enter a room or leave it, ...

          And, if you're one of those folks that does want to turn on/off lights while lounging around, there have been cheap and easy solutions for decades.
          The clapper comes to mind. Certainly easy for that one use case.
          X10 firecracker is another cheap and easy option. They used to have a starter kit with a couple lamp modules (plug a lamp into a tiny box, and plug that into wall), a device remote, and a firecracker computer interface module (that worked with Linux even way back then). You could dim or turn on/off a

          • I found a little box module on ebay - it's just a board with four relays on, and a matching radio remote. A little wiring work to install it above my ceiling and I can now turn my lights on and off from bed.

        • Most times if you turn lights off/on you either enter a room or leave it, and for that you already have to get up.

          You need to talk to my roommate.

          She's one of those people who falls asleep on the couch while watching TV. She gets home, has dinner, turns on the TV, lies down, and is out like a light 20 minutes later. She'll occasionally wake up, hit the rewind button on the DVR, and fall asleep before the DVR gets back to the beginning.

          I usually come downstairs around 11:30PM and find her asleep on the couch with the TV on and the lights on. I'll turn off the lights and go to bed, leaving her in the dark with the TV

      • Why would you want to change your tv channel from the internet? What's next, turning on and off a faucet over the internet? How about a device the monitors your pictures to make sure they are hanging level and sends status updates to your phone?
        • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

          How about a device the monitors your pictures to make sure they are hanging level and sends status updates to your phone?

          You should Kickstarter that.

          • I thought of that while typing it in. The sad thing is that I could do it with parts I have in my junk drawer in half an hour. I've seen so many kickstarter projects that are as easy asking for thousands of dollars.
    • You can control the heating/cooling temperature, on either pattern or exception. So, the system can learn that you're usually home around 5.30p and have your house at exactly the temp you like when you arrive. Or, you can tell it you're on the way home at 12n today and it will have the house ready for you early. Same thing with lights/etc. Even if you like to do those things yourself, computers are more efficient. In the temp example, say you told your home you need to stay out until 9.30p one night - the
    • Same with me. I started building my own internet controlled devices in the 1990's, so I thought it would be a great idea to turn my house into something from star trek. About two devices into my project, I realize that it was all but useless, just novelty....and not even that clever.

      To answer the top level question, yes. Easily.There was even a company(ies?) in the early 90's selling a host of controllers based on the x10 protocol []

      On ebay []

    • You don't see any benefits because you think the "smart" home is about switching off the lights from your computer. As a proper slashdotter you should have more imagination as to what technology can do for you.

      - Track power to help reduce costs.
      - Track water usage.
      - Track plant watering for ideal horticulture, or even automate your garden.
      - The inherent selling point of the Nest is that it optimises your heating to save money, not that you can control the temperature from the PC.
      - Connected security devices

      • - Track power to help reduce costs.
        - Track water usage.

        I never saw what the advantage in this was. I do know that a device requires power, because it is connected to the power network. I do know that electric stoves need more power than lightbulbs and that I shouldn't keep the stove on. Also I know that I should turn off lights everywhere when I leave a room. Everything else just feels like microoptimisation to me.

        - Track plant watering for ideal horticulture, or even automate your garden.

        This may be a point, but I still don't see why it should be connected to a touchscreen mounted to my frige. I also don't need to be waked by a TTS vo

        • The objective of home security is not to render your home burglarproof. The objective of homo security is to render your home marginally less appealing to burglars than the one next door.

        • Everything else just feels like microoptimisation to me.

          You are absolutely right. But once macro optimisation is done what is left? Here's two relevant examples that happened to me. I track my power usage and have for the best part of 7 years. I identified degraded seals in the my refrigerator by looking at the trends one day. The over the years the fridge had spent more time with the compressor running than in the past. Likewise with my water use, by monitoring it I identified an underground water leak in the incoming pipe to the house, naturally after the wate

    • by Nonesuch ( 90847 )

      Making home infrastructure smart has plenty of utility, beyond simple laziness.

      A smart thermostat connected to other home automation can know when nobody is home, automatically switch to energy saving mode, and then be notified when a resident is heading home so it can enter recovery mode and be back to a comfortable temperature by the time you arrive. Same goes for water heating -- if nobody is around, water in the storage heater tank can be allowed to cool down, and then brought back up to temperatur

    • For me, the main thing is having lighting scenes and sonos control automated: time-of-day, day-of-week, occupied/unoccupied, etc. I would like it to do a few more things, but mainly the focus is in setting moods transparently.

      I was surprised that my wife missed it when the power line modem died, but it really grows on you.

    • As a proper slashdotter, I spend a big chunk of my time in front of a screen, so I'm no way non-digital. Still I don't see any benefits in a "smart" home.

      Me neither. I bought a Samsung SmartThings, played with it for an hour and couldn't even be bothered installing the sensors anywhere.
      I can see some value in an outdoor camera facing the gate so that any unwanted visitors might at least get caught on camera should I need it, but even then I don't care that much to go out and get one.

    • I have my computer turn on my towel warmer before I wake up and take my morning shower. It's nice and hot by the time I get out. Before I had this, I had 2 alarms set and I would end up waking up earlier, but not getting out of bed earlier. What a waste!

  • Most devices you would need for a smart home (e.g., thermostats, locks, light switches, etc.) are relatively simple, so if you are *really* determined to have a smart home without watchers, why not start making the smart devices yourself? If you get a working model put together, I am sure you could easily start a successful kickstarter campaign and bootstrap a business with it. Win/win for everyone.

    The problem with the entrenched players is that they all have a vested interest in making everything cloud-e

  • X10 (Score:5, Informative)

    by chiefmojorising ( 114811 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @08:56AM (#52155015)

    It's only been around since the '70s. []

  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @08:57AM (#52155019)

    I thought that was all locally controlled.

  • Alternatives (Score:5, Informative)

    by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @09:01AM (#52155033)

    Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does,

    There is, the company is Connexus Controls []. We provide HVAC control systems for new installations and retrofit. We provide remote access similar to the way the Nest and others do, but unlike the others, there is no centralized server, your data stays in your home, and the system will function perfectly fine with or without network access. We will provide access to our control API for anyone that wants to tinker with the system, opening up a whole world of opportunity.

  • by kbonin ( 58917 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @09:02AM (#52155039) Homepage

    As a developer of custom hardware and software, I'd LOVE to make products in this space. However:
    1) Most people are trained to look for cheapest prices for devices, which are (for the most part) made in third-world sweatshops.
    2) To provide a competitive price, you have to manufacture in volume in third-world sweatshops.
    3) Due to lack of functioning IP protections in third-world countries, manufacturing there means instantly creating many competitors you cant compete with.
    4) If you're willing to give up most of the world markets, you can still only compete against imports by spending lots on lawyers for ITC import games.

    In their defense, "cloud" components provide a way to monetize the product in a manner somewhat resistant to third-world knockoffs and late shift runs to your competitors, as well as provide a user-friendly front end that you can tune without requiring the customers to update software, which is always a nightmare. That said, there is NO moral defense against the wholesale "all your data belongs to us, we can sell anything to anyone as long as we anonymize (sic) it" games that are played today. That said, for most modern corporations there are no such thing as morals.

    I'm not aware of realistic ways to bring such products to market that are price competitive AND can provide sufficient income stream to recover initial investments, cover ongoing operating costs for a small team, and turn even a modest profit. Not in this world.

  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Saturday May 21, 2016 @09:05AM (#52155047)

    A duct tape and bailing wire DIY shouldn't be too hard. Tricky part will be a smooth consistent niceness.

    Quick google shows X10 to be alive and well, with RF or wired access to the devices. A webserver-with-API-to-X10-controller bridge device shouldn't be too hard to do with a Pi or similar acting as the bridge hardware, so that can get you on your local network - a quick google shows you should check the Pi and a project called Heyu. Rent a Linode or similar VPS for internet based control if you can't get a static method of addressing your home network when you are away or if your service provider blocks the ports you want to use

  • If it is in the cloud, it is not smart. Having your house report everything you do to people you don't know with interests you don't share may or may not provide useful features, but it is definitely not smart.

  • For something like thermostats, fire alarms, and cameras, some off-site access is an essential part of their functionality. For others (switches, etc.), it's a convenience. There are plenty of high-end for business use that don't use the cloud, but they are going to cost you: dedicated data lines, secure off-site facility, off-site server hardware, maintenance staff, backup, etc. Cloud integration is just something that turns an expensive high-end product into a cheap mass market product. But if you're will

  • I know that the thermostats at [] can be configured to disable the cloud function (or I guess you could change its URL to a home server), and they have a JSON-based web interface that a custom home server could use.
    • It's not as shiny and takes more work than using the big name solutions (ie: Nest/Google), but the options are out there.

      The RadioThermostat works over your choice of WiFi, Z-Wave, or Zigbee (pick up to 2 protocols). The cloud service is easy to setup and includes a convenient app, but the API is fully documented and compatible with a number of open source home automation servers. You can easily disable the cloud service if desired, or reconfigure it to point to a server of your choosing (local or remote)

  • Taking a break from tinkering with Raspberry Pi + breadboard + sensor kit to post this. Would not be that hard to control the wires a thermostat is connected to with GPIO. The question is just how smart and safe your solution is going to be. Value of cloud is machine learning based not just on your home, but all homes, and human follow up to enhance the software when there is a trend with no automated solution. Non-networked solution will never be as good, and thus will not be a consumer product.

  • In my opinion the only way to avoid the big companies collecting your information is DIY.

    At most on the outside you should ever need is a Dynamic DNS provider, and there are dozens of those you can use and script to send your outside accessible IP (assuming you don't have static address[es]).

    A lot of this is actually fairly simple programming with basic IO sensors. You could build a thermostat like a Nest with a PiZero, a basic thermal sensor, a couple of relays and some of your own time. Sure, it won't loo

  • by Space ( 13455 )

    I have a Vera Lite []. It can be entirely functional without a connection to the internet. I have door locks and a thermostat which talk on the Z-Wave protocol. When one of the doors is locked using the button on the outside the Vera changes to an "Away" preset.

  • when you can build your own [] for hundreds less with less effort? Do you have money to waste?
  • You need to be looking into open protocols, and implement them using free and open source software: []
  • You have to pay a monthly fee to get the Control 4 system into the cloud. It's apparently a very popular system probably because they setup a very strong dealer network and require the dealers to do any changes or modifications - it's basically a closed system to the home owner so its really stupid. Want to add a new zone or piece of equipment? Gotta get it from a dealer.
  • Pick the right controller to start, Vera is a good starting place and Openhab is more than happy to control it later on. Neither of those need internet access to work. My HA system has little to no internet access. I VPN in from phones to run it remotely and use a bit of custom code for geofencing. Now parts of the system have internet access my alarm panel use it as backup to talk to the monitoring company. Openhab is allowed to talk to weather and some other bits via my proxy. My garage door remote

  • I built a smart thermostat about 12-15 years ago.

    It's really not that hard.

    Get an RCS TR-16 thermostat.

    Hook it up to a PC (or, today, a raspberry pi).

    Read the specs on the protocol and write a small daemon to listen for requests and take appropriate action based on them. For good measure, add sanity-checking of request parameters (don't allow it be set to cool below, say, 65, or heat above 72).

    Use netcat or telnet to talk to the port it listens on.

    It's really not difficult at all.

    These days it'd make sense

  • Another big issue is responsiveness of rules/triggering/devices.

    I have a smartthings hub and sometimes simple motion triggers or routines fail and usually it's due to some sort of network issue. If I lose internet connectivity then a lot of my smart things become dumb things. To be fair things seem to be improving albeit slowly but I am still tied to Samsung and whatever they want to do with their services - it looks like they are more focused on TVs and Refrigerator hubs at the moment. I have no confidence

  • I've given up trying to figure out who is listening to what, when, and what they are doing with it. I've gone "dumb home." I use a double-pole single-throw knife switch like they have in the old Frankenstein movie to turn my burner on and off. The crackle of electricity and the smell of ozone is very invigorating in the morning (and I get to yell "It's aliiiive" for the neighbors). I don't think Google has figured out a way to monetize it yet, but I hear they are working on it.
  • by flacco ( 324089 )

    > The winner was "nobody", with 63% of the votes

    How this isn't near 100% is completely baffling to me.

  • Incidentally, when I got into IoT and "that stuff", the first thing I did was starting to write my own software to control lights. So far only made it to a generic library, with a reference implementation etc, partly because all the smart-home equipment is too expensive ... and companies don't always share (local) APIs .... and I'm lazy ... but at least I got it pushed to Github.

    But really, only buy stuff that has a local API (i.e. can be accessed directly via (W)LAN), so you're not 100% dependent on cloud-

  • I use a Homematic CCU2. It works perfectly without any cloud.

  • I haven't kept track, but ISPs used to shit bricks if you tried to run a home server (without paying for a business class connection). Their (somewhat legitimate) reasoning was that home servers were more likely to be hacked and used for things like anonymous e-mail relays for spam. But most botnets work just fine with any Windows desktop OS, so that reasoning is no longer valid. Still, with everyone trying to sell cloud services, rolling your own will still meet some resistance.

    Most home automation/securi

    • by Nonesuch ( 90847 )

      I haven't kept track, but ISPs used to shit bricks if you tried to run a home server (without paying for a business class connection). Their (somewhat legitimate) reasoning was that home servers were more likely to be hacked and used for things like anonymous e-mail relays for spam.

      For the most part, American ISPs have backed down from this, and block inbound only for TCP/25 and the high-risk Windows ports. A few block port 80.

      For just accessing your home network for the purpose of automation, there are plenty of workarounds to get past ISP blocking, they really don't care if you run a "server" that is only ever accessed by two iPhones, one for you and one for your SO.

    • That was never the reason. That was the excuse.

      The reason was that small businesses would use cheap consumer internet service, and the ISPs wanted commercial users to pay the greater rates for a business service. They put a 'no commercial use' clause in the contract, but it's difficult to enforce, so they just crippled the home service just enough that businesses couldn't easily use it.

      It's just price discrimination - a little underhanded, but a perfectly legitimate business tool. It's equivalent to, for ex

  • I install them professionally. You buy AMX or Crestron, and have it installed and programmed. BOOM non cloud based home automation that works fantastically.

    This has been the case for well over 30 years now, and most rich people have been enjoying it.

    Non cloud based reliable stuff has existed for a long time now.... Dirt cheap home automation for poor people? That is a new thing from the recent decade. and "cloud" is how you extract money from those poor people unwilling to spend $20K on their home auto

  • It varies from country to country but my guess is most homes are about 30 years old. Every service in them usually is working on the orginal services because they use simple mechanical principles that are timeless. The doors are on hinges, the lighting has mechanical switches, the water has mechanical valves etc. They are all maintainable and still working 30 years later. How many electronic devices do you own that are 30 years old and if they break can they be fixed. How much of the tech you own today
    • My house is thirty years old. There's a constant slow drip of water down the side due to a failed washer in the cold water tank ballcock. The washer can't be replaced because the valve after thirty years is a sculpture of copper oxide and is sure to crumble to dust on any attempt to access the washer, so even the simple mechanical things do fail. That's why plumbers do house calls.

      One day it will be replaced, but there are certain family conflicts currently preventing it. That strange quirk of usually-male

  • This is hardly worth asking, as is, for example: http://misterhouse.sourceforge... []

    Digging deeper, it depends:
    • How much automation and how sophisticated?
    • Do you want remote control via app, via SMS or no remote control?
    • There isn't a 'cloud', there are several, including a server that you spin up and own
    • Do you want X10 (ugh, but well-known), Wifi or Bluetooth to communicate or get locked into something proprietary?
    • What's your skill level for software and/or electronics?
    • Do you want it to hook up with Echo/Ne
  • At the current state of the art at least, cloud based voice recognition simply works better than anything you can implement on an affordable local system. There are two reasons.

    One is that the cloud system can devote massive amounts of resources intermittently when you need them to recognize a voice command, but give those resources to other people when you do not. Current day voice recognition systems really aren't very intelligent; they work by comparing massive amounts of data with the recorded voice dat

  • I get home, I put the heating on if I think I need it. Heating is a luxury, and I've spent enough time living in accommodations without heating - frost on the inside of the window is nothing new to wake up to. Hot water is produced when I turn the tap on (and stops being produced when I turn the tap off). The washing machine handles it's task perfectly well once I've put a load in - which is not TTBOMK planned to be automated. Oh, and the heating system actually has an anti-frost feature to protect the wate

Old mail has arrived.