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Restart Radio: Open-sourcing the Internet of Things

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The rapidly-growing Internet of Things (IoT) takes multiple forms: some more useful than others. Broadly defined, the Internet of Things refers to anything that is traditionally ‘dumb’, but is manufactured to communicate – with other devices, or with the internet. A smart kettle, a smart toaster, or a smart central heating system all fall into this category.

A world where gadgets can talk to each other brings a whole host of opportunities – but it also throws up unprecedented challenges. Today, Ugo and Jon are joined by Davide Gomba, an Italian maker working on an open-source connected home called ‘Casa Jasmina’. Built to merge traditional Italian skills in interior design with emergent skills in open-source electronics, Casa Jasmina is an ongoing project that provides a test-bed for experiments in IoT. Casa Jasmina demonstrates the potential of smart homes that are tailored to the specific needs of its inhabitants, and how it can facilitate more sustainable practices in the home, for example by reducing energy consumption.

Casa Jasmina, Torino. Image by Flickr user Peter Bihr

Davide talks about the emerging challenge of controlling IoT via voice. With many voice-controlled assistants working through proprietary platforms, such as that used by Amazon for Alexa, there is a need for an open-source database of voice that can be used by independent makers.

We talk about the security risks posed by these new products and services, especially in relation to medical IoT devices such as the artificial pancreas developed for Type 1 diabetics.

In terms of e-waste, IoT devices also run the risk of increasing the problem of software obsolescence. If gadgets are developed faster than the resulting software issues that crop up can be addressed, we fall into a pattern by which the life expectancy of our things is drastically decreased. Ugo recently spoke at MozFest about the discontinuation of support for owners of the Pebble Watch after it was bought by Fitbit. The smarter our devices become, the more reliant we become on the assistance of the manufacturers in maintaining them.


[Feature image “Visiting Casa Jasmina” by Flickr user Peter Bihr is licensed under CC-BY 2.0.]

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