English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle


The iKettle is advertised as “the world’s first Wi-Fi kettle.” Mark Rittman got one and said it took 11-hours to make a cup of tea.

From The Guardian:

A key problem seemed to be that Rittman’s kettle didn’t come with software that would easily allow integration with other devices in his home, including Amazon Echo, which, like Apple’s Siri, allows users to tell connected smart devices what to do. So Rittman was trying to build the integration functionality himself.

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Pornhub on a refrigerator in Home Depot


John McAfee observed something unusual running on a fridge at the local Home Depot: porn.

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Design fiction, the Internet of Women's things, and futurism

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Jasmina Tesanovic (previously) and Bruce Sterling did a residency at The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD, working with the students on design fiction and futurism. Read the rest

"Smart" sex toy company sued for tracking users’ habits


A woman has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a sex toy that sends data back to the company.

From Vocativ:

In the suit, N.P. says she bought a We-Vibe in May and used it “several times” until she realized that it was sending data about her usage practices back to Standard Innovation’s servers, including when she used it, which vibration settings she used, and her email address.

The company that makes the We-Vibe, Standard Innovation, says it will do a better job of letting its customers know that the device can transmit data, which is “mostly anonymized” and used only for “market research.” Read the rest

A cellular-connected Pokéball for finding rare Pokémon


Particle is a company makes low-cost Wi-Fi and cellular connected microcontrollers for prototyping the Internet of Things stuff. TJ Hunter used a Particle Electron and a GPS chip to make a Pokéball that wiggles when a rare Pokémon is nearby.

Here are Hunter's build instructions.

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The U.S. Navy now has an unmanned drone warship. Could it be hacked at sea?

The U.S. 'Sea Hunter' unmanned ship, a DARPA project.

The U.S. Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are now testing a new unmanned drone warship.

The first Navy drone ship is a 132-foot ACTUV (Antisubmarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel) known as Sea Hunter, which cost around $120 million to build. The military says more can now be produced for $20 million or so each. But some are concerned that with no humans at the controls, these “robot ships” could be hacked, pwned remotely, and used by America's enemies to attack the United States.

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Near-future Ikea catalog: the Internet of Things' flat-pack as a service


Julian Bleecker and his Near Future Laboratory have followed up on their amazing Skymall-of-the-future catalog with an imaginary near-future Ikea catalog that jam an insane amount of witty futuristic speculation into elegantly presented, arresting images.

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An Internet of Things that act like red-light cameras

Charlie Stross is preparing for five more years of Tory rule in the UK by thinking up business-models that monopolize mandatory activities and extract rent from them. Read the rest

Build your own open source hardware Nest-style smart thermostat

Alan sez, "Spark.io provides instructions for making your own Nest-like 'smart' thermostat. Of course it's entirely open source, with files on github." Read the rest

Your refrigerator probably hasn't joined a botnet

A mediagenic press-release from Proofpoint, a security firm, announced that its researchers had discovered a 100,000-device-strong botnet made up of hacked "Internet of Things" appliances, such as refrigerators. The story's very interesting, but also wildly implausible as Ars Technica's Dan Goodin explains.

The report is light on technical details, and the details that the company supplied to Goodin later just don't add up. Nevertheless, the idea of embedded systems being recruited to botnets isn't inherently implausible, and some of the attacks that Ang Cui has demonstrated scare the heck out of me.

For more speculation, see my story The Brave Little Toaster, from MIT's TRSF. Read the rest

Cubli: motorized reaction-wheel cube that can balance and walk on its edges and corners

A clever combination of motorized reaction wheels, sensors, processors and software allow the 15cm^3 Cubli to balance on its corner or edge, and to stabilize itself in the face of disturbances, or spin on its corner. It can also ramp up its wheel speed, brake them suddenly and use the angular momentum to leap up onto its corner from a flat rest, then fall onto a proscribed side, and leap up -- walking, in other words. Read the rest

Internet of Things Bill of Rights

Pt and Limor write,

The New York Times asked Adafruit's founder and engineer, Limor 'Ladyada' Fried to contribute to an article series called ROOM for DEBATE. We believe Internet of Things devices should all come with a well established expectation of what they will and will not do with consumer's data. In the article we put together the start of what we hope will help this effort: Minimizing Risk Is Easy: Adopt a Bill of Rights

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By His Things Will You Know Him (podcast)

(art by Daniel Martin Diaz)

Earlier today, we published my story "By His Things Will You Know Him," which is from the forthcoming Institute for the Future anthology "An Aura of Familiarity: Visions from the Coming Age of Networked Matter." I've read the story aloud for my podcast, if that's how you prefer your fiction.

MP3 Link

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Internet of Things and surveillance

Bruce Schneier's got smart things to say about surveillance in the age of the Internet of Things:

In the longer term, the Internet of Things means ubiquitous surveillance. If an object "knows" you have purchased it, and communicates via either Wi-Fi or the mobile network, then whoever or whatever it is communicating with will know where you are. Your car will know who is in it, who is driving, and what traffic laws that driver is following or ignoring. No need to show ID; your identity will already be known. Store clerks could know your name, address, and income level as soon as you walk through the door. Billboards will tailor ads to you, and record how you respond to them. Fast food restaurants will know what you usually order, and exactly how to entice you to order more. Lots of companies will know whom you spend your days --and night -- with. Facebook will know about any new relationship status before you bother to change it on your profile. And all of this information will all be saved, correlated, and studied. Even now, it feels a lot like science fiction.

Will you know any of this? Will your friends? It depends. Lots of these devices have, and will have, privacy settings. But these settings are remarkable not in how much privacy they afford, but in how much they deny. Access will likely be similar to your browsing habits, your files stored on Dropbox, your searches on Google, and your text messages from your phone.

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Internet-of-Things answering machine from 1992, with marbles

Durrell Bishop's 1992 grad project for his design program at the Royal College of Art was a brilliantly conceived riff on the answering machine.

Hidden pint-glass QR code is only visible when filled with Guinness

A clever bit of advertising gimmickry from Guinness: these pint glasses bear QR codes than can't be read when the glass is empty, nor when it is filled with amber-colored beers. But when filled with black, murky Guinness, the revealed QR code can finally be scanned: "it tweets about your pint, updates your facebook status, checks you in via 4 square, downloads coupons and promotions, invites your friends to join, and even launches exclusive Guiness content."

Yeah, so the last part is a bit of a nightmare.

Guinness QR Cup Read the rest

HOWTO make an Internet of Things camera

Following on from their Internet of Things Printer, the good folks at Adafruit have produced a set of plans and a kit for making an Internet of Things Camera -- a tiny, standalone gizmo that turns an Arduino, a webcam's guts and an EyeFi card into a device that can wirelessly transmit photos to a computer, with complimentary software for processing, uploading and filing the images it captures.

Here’s our Arduino based “Internet of Things” camera. It’s a simple remote monitoring using the Eye-Fi wireless SD card and Adafruit Data Logging Shield for Arduino. The Eye-Fi card is a tiny wireless memory card. It stores photos and fits inside a camera just like a regular SD card, but also has built-in WiFi transceiver that can upload images to your computer, smartphone or to various photo-sharing sites. We use one here when taking pictures for our tutorials — it’s a great timesaver, eliminating the extra USB transfer step that’s otherwise necessary. Can the Eye-Fi card work in an Arduino SD card adapter? You bet! Adding a TTL Serial JPEG camera, together with some minimal prep work, we can then create a self-contained wireless monitoring camera with motion-sensing capabilities. Hide it inside a hollowed-out book or a plush dinosaur toy and discover who’s been eating all your Thin Mints cookies!

What makes this combination way cooler than just a normal SD card or a USB cable to a computer is all the infrastructure provided by the Eye-Fi service — not just transferring images to your computer, but pushing them to your smartphone, photo-sharing sites like Flickr, issuing email or Twitter notifications, etc.

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