Please do not automate your home door locks with voice control…

bag003There are times, I sit in my office and I ponder. No wonder, that I do all the time. But ponder, sit and spin my mental wheels trying to understand. The path to understanding is at times never as clear as the path seemed to be when you started down the path. The mental GPS of starting point and ending point isn’t as efficient as the GPS you have in your cellular device.

It makes me ponder. In this case I am pondering post CES at the reality of what is coming. Amazon Echo is taking off, you are still however bound by the reality of voice control. Just listen to a review of Amazon Echo where they demonstrate the product, in a space where you have an Amazon Echo. The resulting cacophony is well why voice command only works in controlled situations.

Motion control is the same. You would get nervous is you were sitting on a plane and the person next to you started shouting at Alexa or started wildly waving their arms about to control their devices. Text, finger and other direct connections with devices will remain. There will come a time I suspect when the device will connect directly to our brains. But that isn’t for a while yet.

We live in the most interesting of times. I love some of the CES reporters tag lines. You can even control your home with Alexa.

bag053As I said it just makes me ponder.

First off, the reality of voice control is interesting. You see the fatal flaw in generic voice control is that it isn’t your voice driving the control, it is any voice driving the control. So effectively if you have your home setup to allow Amazon Echo, Google Home, Cortana or Siri to run everything including doors, then all someone needs to do to break into your home is to should Alexa open the back door. If that is heard, the back door is opened. Then Alexa shut off the alarm and the person is in your house. Unless that isn’t how your alarm is setup (mine is not connected to voice control systems today).

Pondering more and more, I often find myself laughing. Why? Because frankly the reality of home automation is making things easier. Not for burglars but for the home owner. Having to worry about the vulnerability of your Alexa system or your Google Home isn’t automation. Well it is automation in that you are no longer doing repetitive tasks but it isn’t good automation.

I began to ponder good versus bad automation. I’ve digitized most of the media in our home. The few DVD’s (ok so this isn’t true, we have more than1000 DVD’s in the basement collection that sit on the wall but how often do you need to watch Lord of The Rings?) are stored in the basement in our media room. I call it the media room because we have connected all of our media sources in that room to the whole hosue. Laser Disc? Sure, thing we can play that on any connected TV in the hosue. Mini-Disc? Sure. CD? VHS? Everything can be played via the automated system. Records? Cassette tapes? You bet!

bag012Good automation removes the stress of having to find and connect things. It doesn’t however allow for the creation of vulnerabilities. We need to balance the good automaton with the bad. While having, Alexa turn your lights on is awesome, having Alexa manage your doors, not so much. Using Amazon’s FireTV to watch movies you select by voice, amazing. Using Google Home to pump YouTube videos to your Chromecast, incredibly cool (I watched a ton of CES videos on my computer. I should have let Google Home do it for me).

As the world of automation moves further and further towards the integration of home and lifestyle always remember the following rule. If you create a security boundary, don’t automate the boundary with a generic automation system. (I love Amazon Echo, and I love Google Home but they couldn’t tell my voice from the dog’s voice except that my dogs speak better English than I do sometimes). Voice reception and control is cool but don’t create a huge security hole in your network by accident.

Alexa Off.

(images today from the collection of Henry O. Andersen).