::: nBlog :::

Last week I was staying at my friend’s place in Fairfax, Virginia, near Washington DC. This is a typical American six-bedroom mansion, built around 2001 and upgraded a few times.

My friend being a technologist, the house includes all modern security and smart home systems like ADT and Nexia, in addition to Zwave-controlled Schlage locks, power sockets, cameras and so on.

In spite of being quite high end systems, I was surprised how quickly the locks, window sensors, door keypads and downdraft blowers had fallen into disrepair. I was lucky to get in, as three out of four outside doors had a broken keypad, apparently burned by the scorching Virginia sun. The Nexia gateway had the cheapest possible power supply and a 9V battery, both capable of crippling access to the building.

In gratitude to my friend letting me stay there, I installed a couple of ZWave sockets and replaced a Schlage lock for him. Even for an engineer like me the process was complicated with those locks, with default 7-digit codes keyed in after pressing buttons in special order. I could also immediately identify several physical vulnerabilities in order to bypass this kind of lock, not to even start with eavesdropping ZWave with a simple software radio.

I’ve wondered before why all homes don’t have these connected security systems and locks yet, even though the price of electronics has plummeted all the time. After this first-hand refresh I think I know the reason – these things are marketed to high-end homes only, which account for 1-5% of the total market. These customers don’t prioritize price or ease-of-installation, but always take the best (and most expensive) choice – effectively creating an illusion of a market.

The real market will be found from single-bedroom houses and condos, with robust, sustainable and securely connected products. This is what spimes are all about. Robust user interfaces and especially sustainability become key drivers.


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