Opinion: The Problem with Consumer Attitudes Toward Home Automation

Opinion: The Problem with Consumer Attitudes Toward Home Automation

Recently, we received a request to provide feedback on an article related to home automation, and potentially to link back to that article. We won't include the link to the original article, but we will provide our [slightly edited] response to it below. We only spent a few minutes looking for counterpoints to the statements posed as fact in the referenced article and found a plethora of information.

Dear article author,

Thanks for submitting your article for consideration, and for your nice comments about our home automation article.

We looked over your article. It has some good information, but there are also some rather large holes, especially for consumers who are concerned about privacy - and they really all should be concerned about it.

I'm not sure if you are sincere about the request for feedback, or if you were only primarily interested in getting a link back for traffic and SEO purposes. I'll assume you actually would like feedback, so read on if that is correct.

Ring Doorbell and Privacy

You highly recommend the Ring doorbell. Here is an article from our site that discusses privacy issues, and indirectly references the Ring doorbell: https://ameridroid.com/blogs/ameriblogs/privacy-why-you-should-probably-make-your-own-home-automation-devices

Alexa and Google Assistant Have Privacy Issues

On your article, the "cons" lists of Alexa and Google Assistant don't address privacy issues surrounding these, and giving big tech access to the privacy of the home, and how they have failed our trust in the past.

Are the Best Brands Best?

In addition, you state:

When you’re looking at your essential devices, some of the best brands to consider include:

 

  • IFTTT
  • Philips Hue
  • SmartLife
  • Gosund

Most of these have issues with privacy and data security. When giving a technology provider access to the internal workings and goings-on in your home, data breaches and hacks are a huge concern. For example, here's a Quora article about the privacy concerns of IFTTT: https://www.quora.com/What-are-your-privacy-concerns-surrounding-IFTTT

What About Philips Hue?

Here is a video about Shelly bulbs that also references Philips Hue (link indexes to the correct spot in the video - Disclaimer: Occasional raunchy British-style humor): https://youtu.be/fVDnrQ9wIUM?t=44

Are Cloud Apps and Devices Immune to Security Issues?

You also state "If bought from reputable brands (such as those listed above), these apps won’t have any security issues" - this is hopeful thinking, but almost always naive and wrong thinking. Almost every piece of software designed to work over a network has bugs and/or unintentional attack vectors.

Security issues are not only related to the apps from the above companies, but also their devices: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2019/11/05/amazon-alexa-google-home-hacked-with-a-laser

A quick DuckDuckGo search will reveal dozens more: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=google+home+alexa+security+issues

Surely, Real People Don't Listen to My Private Conversations...

Another statement: "There has never been any evidence of a government agent (or anybody else for that matter) listening into your conversations or monitoring what you’re saying to your virtual assistant." Again, this is wrong information:

So, What is the Answer?

Perhaps the biggest oversight is that you make no mention of the most popular open-source and privacy-centric home automation software in the world, Home Assistant.

We promote Home Assistant as the automation controller of choice as it can act independently and off-cloud, or on-cloud for customers who are not as concerned about privacy, and can integrate with Alexa and Google Home (for those who also leave their doors unlocked and left open when they go on vacation).

What Smart Devices Does ameriDroid Recommend?

We promote Shelly Home Automation products as they are top quality and can act independently and off-cloud, or again, on-cloud with the big tech companies for customers who are not as concerned about privacy.

We cannot link in good faith to your article for these reasons. Let us know if you correct these issues in a future revision.

 

Are we "off the mark"? Or did we hit the "nail on the head"? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments

Bo - March 9, 2021

@Cameron and @Greg_Martin: Thanks for your feedback!

@Greg_Martin: I agree this was most likely an article looking for external link promotion.

The “consumer attitude” to which I was referring is what I often see in day-to-day life in the world at large, and was an attitude the submitted article was helping to perpetuate.

It seems consumers are much more likely to be willing to sell out their privacy and security for convenience rather than to pursue an alternative that may be a bit less convenient, but also maintains their privacy and security and gives them a greater degree of independence, freedom and flexibility.

Greg Martin - March 9, 2021

Love your response. My only nit is your title. I’m not sure it’s the Consumer attitude towards home automation so much as the journalistic one you are referencing. I suspect this wasn’t a piece by a real journalist, but by someone writing for an ad supported site. You don’t want to offend the ad-buyers.

Thanks for trying to educate

Cameron - March 3, 2021

This is spot on. I’m tired of pretend DIY solutions that rely on “magical” services. I can’t stomach being beholden to the cloud services. It isn’t sustainable to participate in their “free” services

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