The term “smart” to describe electronics has been used extensively over the last several years, but was probably coined by a truly smart man, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple when he introduced the first iPhone in 2007. (Yes, it was 14 years ago!)
Since then, we have heard it used to refer to phones, TVs – ever heard the phrase, “is your TV smart?”- I dunno? I just watch it! – smart watches, speakers, smart lights, thermostats, door locks, cameras and more.
Heck, even your water pipes or toaster could be sort of intelligent, with the right accessories attached.
There are smart refrigerators, that will greet you in the morning, show you what’s inside your fridge without opening the door, and say things like “Good morning Bill, looks like you’re getting low on milk.”
So, where am I going with this? Well, with all this so called “intelligence” of our stuff comes some drawbacks.
Take smart speakers for example – the biggies, SIRI, Alexa, Cortana (does anybody on Windows actually use that?), and Google – are all from different companies. By the way, that kind of sounds like the 4 daughters of a European nobleman or something, except poor Google must have done something terribly wrong to warrant getting such a goofy nickname!
But I digress.
The point is, that all these individual ladies have their favourite devices and functions, but when it comes to playing nice with others… not so much.
Try to get SIRI or Alexa, or Google to do something that one of the others is known for and you will get a cryptic response, like “I’m afraid I can’t do that” (HAL-2001 anyone? anyone?). Hey, I thought you were supposed to be SMART!
And therein is the rub. While all these devices are really slick and sharp in their own environment, to expect them to work together is like oil and water. Doesn’t mix.
Have you ever looked for some new gadget and noticed on the box, it says “Works with Alexa, or Works with Apple Home Kit, or Works with Google (poor little funny-named Google)?
This believe it or not, and why wouldn’t you, has been the primary focus of all the brilliant minds in the IOT (Internet of Things), industry. To make them all work together, regardless of whether its Apple, Amazon, Google, “Win-Doze” (ok, maybe not Win-Doze .)
So, to get everybody to play nice together, the big boys and girls of the industry (the above mentioned), have done the right thing for all and formed an alliance, that will combine all the different formats into one universal standard that will all work together called the Zigbee Alliance (another wayward kid with a weird name? who knows?)
Their mission as described on their web site “Mission: The Zigbee Alliance ignites creativity and collaboration in the Internet of Things, by creating, evolving, and promoting universal open standards that enable all objects to securely connect and interact.”
I emphasized the word securely above, because that (security), was the topic of an earlier article Don’t Talk To Strangers and will undoubtedly be a topic in more.
Anyway, while you’re asking all your smart devices to play your favourite tunes, look up a new recipe, turn on the lights, or up the thermostat, ask yourself, who is the smart one? – You? because you can impress your friends, with cute parlor tricks? Your devices? because they’re oh-so intelligent (remember the toaster?) Or the big companies that get you to keep buying all this gear?
Do we really all want to become talking heads like Jaba The Hut and never move off the couch to do all the things we used to walk to do?
Remember when we were kids and we were the “remote” for our parents “Billy, change it to channel three, will ya?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Just askin’
I’m Captain iPad