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The Internet

The Internet: Your Next Remote Control 154

Makarand writes "According to this article on NewsFactor, a Hungarian company, Timothy Technologies, wants to turn the Internet into a pervasive Remote Control. This device, called FlatStack, allows users to operate home appliances using the web. The FlatStack is an entire web server on a tiny circuit board which can be connected to the Internet and wired to the device needing remote control. Later versions of FlatStack will connect to appliances wirelessly. The FlatStack, with a variety of applications at home, can also be adapted in offices, factories and agricultural settings. It is expected to sell for around $75."
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The Internet: Your Next Remote Control

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  • Cowboy Neal is my control.
  • Worried... (Score:5, Funny)

    by redhairedneo ( 531104 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:35PM (#4739180)
    Am I the only one that's worried someone might crack their password and start doing their dishes? :(:(
    • Re:Worried... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Busty Amateur ( 597875 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:49PM (#4739254)
      Why on earth would you need a remote controlled dishwasher? So you can load it in the morning and turn it on just before leaving work so you have sparkling clean dishes to use for supper?

      This technology is much better for ovens, heating systems, VCRs/PVRs, pet food dispensers or whatever. Not that I'd trust an remote control connected to the net to control any of these things. It can all be achieved with a timer.

      And no, I'm not humor impaired. But it seems that every time an article gets posted on slashdot, the only posts that get moderated up are the +1 Funny.
      • Re:Worried... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by einhverfr ( 238914 )
        This technology is much better for ovens...

        OK-- This one scares the hell out of me-- After all, not only could an attacker do a DoS attack against the appliances you use for your own livelihood, but could conceivably burn your house down!

        It is possible to have sufficient security for things like this, those measures would be intrusive enough that it would probably kill the market.
      • Why on earth would you need a remote controlled dishwasher? ... It can all be achieved with a timer.

        "Damn, I forgot to set the timer this morning."
        [erik@work erik]$ ssh home.epukinsk.net
        erik's password:
        Authentication successful.
        Last login: Fri Nov 22 21:22:33 2002 from upstairsoffice.epukinsk.net
        [erik@work erik]$ /etc/rc.d/dishwasher start
        Starting dishwasher: [ OK ]
        [erik@work erik]$ exit
      • Why on earth would you need a remote controlled dishwasher?

        Well, since you ask, you could load it up at your convenience and run it at 2am (assuming you don't sleep next to it) when the burden on the power system is mimized.
        Still, i don't see the average homeowener wiring one of these up to any major appliances.
    • by baryon351 ( 626717 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:59PM (#4739297)
      ...or spammers sending spam, not only tells you how to ENLARGE YOUR PENIS via text, but will pop up a java app to tell you more about ENLARGING YOUR PENIS, tune your radio to ENLARGE YOUR PENIS and display the adverts to ENLARGE YOUR PENIS on your television.

      Just what it would try to do with a toaster or microwave to ENLARGE YOUR PENIS is too scary to think about.
    • Doing dishes?? Crack password? Wi-Fi has taught us that most people can't be bothered to change default passwords. I have every expectation spending some fun weekends with nmap, turning on air conditioning in houses with subzero weather and cranking the heat up in desert communities. I have not the slightest intention of being responsible with this, nor will I ever own one of these! :)
  • by vinsci ( 537958 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:36PM (#4739186) Journal
    This is already invented in Finland :-). See http://www.violasystems.com/index.php [violasystems.com]
    • by Jetson ( 176002 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:49PM (#4739255) Homepage
      A friend of a friend invented a remote-control vibrator. I kid you not! It's wired to the PC and has a web interface so that people in long-distance relationships can intimately stimulate each other during telephone/IM sex.... His company will be selling the product on-line shortly.
      • Don't tell me. He's going to call it a fufme?
      • This was covered on SexTV (CityTV Toronto) at least as early as '99. There was a small sensor you stick to your monitor which detects the signals sent to a window on your screen via the remote software. The different signals cause the vibrator to switch speeds accordingly.

        While it's a novel approach to keeping the home fires burning, I think it would suck to come home to a note that says "Honey, you know I love you, but I'm leaving you for Slashdot."
  • Here's the site text, in preperation for the inevitable slashdot'ing: -- Please Check Our Press Release, more to come soon, below you can find a picture of the device. FlatStack Your Home To The Internet A very small Internet server has been developed. The name of this server is FlatStack, it replaces a complete PC and it is so small that nobody will even notice it. Still it is able to connect to many types of equipment at home, in the office, on the farm or in any type of logistical or industrial production process. FlatStack Your Home To The Internet Budapest - 12 November 2002 - FlatStack is the Hungarian answer to a trend in which all kind of ordinary household machines like heating systems, air conditioners, refrigerators and coffee machines will be connected to the Internet in the near future. By connecting them, users can control them from any place, even from their mobile phone. In order to be able to do so a very small Internet server has been developed. The name of this server is FlatStack, it replaces a complete PC and it is so small that nobody will even notice it. Still it is able to connect to many types of equipment at home, in the office, on the farm or in any type of logistical or industrial production process. The first version of FlatStack, which is now released, still has to be wired to the equipment but with standards like Bluetooth and wireless lan arriving, the next release of FlatStack will also support various types of wireless connection. FlatStack is not just an embedded device, it is part of a distributed computing approach in which centralized Internet tools take over the main processing whereas the FlatStack devices are their Email sending sensors and remote controlled robot arms. Timothy Technologies, a new company in which HITF Hungarian Innovative Technologies Fund, and Consult4Net are the major participants has acquired the FlatStack patents from its developers Dr. Kürti Sándor and Borján Gábor who will remain involved in the further growth of FlatStack. Timothy Technologies has as its goal to market the first generation FlatStack server and to further develop its future applications. A major advantage Timothy Technologies has is that it can deliver flexible and customized solutions because all hard- and software components needed, including the centralized Internet tools, are owned by the company. This means that Timothy Technologies is not depending on any outside source for the realization of complete FlatStack projects. Further Information: Timothy Technologies Kft. Andrássy út 46. 1061 Budapest, Hungary, Ungarn Dennis Kalfus dennis.kalfus@flatstack.com http://www.flatstack.com (under construction)
    • And the article (Score:2, Informative)

      by BrianGa ( 536442 )
      If Hungarian startup Timothy Technologies has its way, the Internet is about to take a giant leap forward, off the pages of the user's Web browser and right into every home appliance, from toaster ovens to air conditioners. Well, perhaps not the entire Internet, per sé, but enough of it to turn an ordinary home of the present into a remote-controlled Smart Home of the future. With an innovative new device known as the FlatStack, a user can log on to a Web page and operate home appliances with commands issued through an ordinary Web browser, with point-and-click ease.

      The FlatStack is a tiny circuit board with an embedded operating system that functions as a Web server. The device connects to the Internet and, in turn, can receive commands through an ordinary Web page. The user logs on to the Internet, opens the Web page and is presented with various options. For example, on a hot day, one can log on to the Web page, check the current temperature at home and turn on the air conditioner remotely, so that the area will be cool by the time the user arrives home. Likewise, the user can switch on a coffee maker, TV, lights or any other home appliance to which the FlatSstack device is connected.

      Vast Universe of Uses

      And while uses are nearly unlimited for consumers, the FlatStack is also applicable in industrial settings, including offices, factories and agricultural arenas. Wherever there is an electronically controlled device, the FlatStack can be used.

      Still, the sophisticated technology that powers FlatStack will remain outside of the user's view, as in nearly all other embedded systems. "You, as a user, will never be able to see it," Meta Group vice president Steve Kleynhans told NewsFactor recently when commenting on similar Smart Home devices. "The only thing you'll ever see is the interface they [graft] onto it." For FlatStack users, this is good news, as the Web interface is particularly simple and easy to use.

      Timothy Not Home Alone

      Timothy Technologies, however, is not the only high-tech company with the vision of extending the power of computing to the home. At the recent Comdex trade show, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) chairman Bill Gates announced, "Today, the home environment is one where the PC is starting to play a bigger role."

      To that end, a new class of computers equipped with the upcoming Microsoft XP Media Center Edition will be able to remotely control televisions, DVD players and display digital images. The new version of Windows XP will make its debut on PCs produced by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) that carry a price tag of several thousand dollars. By contrast, the FlatStack offers similar remote capabilities and retails for somewhere between US$75 and $100, while offering a key benefit that the Microsoft/HP system does not.

      Fitting into the palm of a hand, FlatStack can remain mostly unseen and does not take up space in the home. The Microsoft/HP system, on the other hand, is relatively large and obtrusive in comparison, though it does offer some bells and whistles not offered by FlatStack.
      • Seriously, Microsoft is the last company I'd trust to write software to control my house. I mean, if you thought a security hole that lets someone format your hard drive was bad, imagine what kind of trouble someone could start if they could hack into the box that controls your house... I hope the FlatStack is relatively secure.
  • by Dthoma ( 593797 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:38PM (#4739201) Journal
    ...I have to worry about my TV exploding from the /. effect?
    • "I have to worry about my TV exploding from the /. effect?"

      Only if your VCR kicks out a tape and knocks you in the skull with it, like what happened to Arsenio Hall in "Amazon Women on the Moon"...
    • Muhahaha...

      Imagine the day when people will be able to post links to Cowboy Neal's toaster [foo.bar] for posting redundant articles!

    • actually.. this could be transformed into an idea the might make commerce on the internet a little more profitable.. listen: there will always be a learning curve.. so a company will always have do it at home-er's like ourselves and then there's the aol crowd. Lets say some company gets the great idea to practically pay a few companys to install a very cheap chip into future products that allows them to communicate via [impules in electrical wiring, 802.11, cables, whatever] to a central 'hub' (a friendly little toy in the entertainment system [think mp3 player times 1000x], and all the info will be accessable via the web, and you may transmit your our personalized 'password' via a program similiar to todays chat clients (ala msn, yahoo, aol) to your computer from anywhere - whereby allowing a set of commands to do things you need to get done while you're away. the money to be made is in the client software (being that its *ahem* secure). And the great part will be that it will all be open source and we geeks can just pine our pron adverts away. ;)

      yeah
  • Hammer / Nail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:39PM (#4739202)
    If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail or How We Can Use The Internet For All Kinds of BS.
  • Ugh.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by RomikQ ( 575227 ) <romikq@mail.ru> on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:39PM (#4739204) Homepage
    I don't think switching on the toaster when you're not at home is a very good idea. That's a fire waiting to happen.

    But imagine if someone's robbing your house and you happen to switch on the lights or something from the web or turn on the music or the tv. If the robbers won't have a heart attack, your house will forever be free of any disturbances.

    "Hey, that house looks good, look at that TV! Let's take it!"
    "Are you crazy? Haven't you heard? it's the 'haunted' house!"
    • Hmmm...does "haunted" include passive defense systems? It is illegal to "set a trap" (in all states?) against illegal entry, but if you remoted a .22 caliber semi-auto wouldn't using it be legally similar to being there in person? Interesting times in which we live,eh?
      • remoted a .22 caliber semi-auto wouldn't using it be legally similar to being there in person?

        Unfortunatly some states (CA being one) you can't use deadly force to defend your property. You can only use it to defend your life (or families, etc). Whether or not you were defending your life can actually be very subjective...

        Its not like TN where you can shoot trespassers after dark (or so I've heard- may just be a myth).
    • Imagine your Toaster needing to be certified by IEEE to be compliant with all concerned RFC documents...
    • Imagine someone switching on your toaster and turning the valves to your gas oven ON and the ignition OFF.

      While that can't be done with this device which is a retrofit to existing hardware, the devices where this will be built in at the factory are on the way, complete with diagnostic modes to allow remote troubleshooting.

    • But imagine if someone's robbing your house and you happen to switch on the lights or something from the web or turn on the music or the tv.

      That's nothing. I'm working out a system where I can have my refridgerator chase people out of my house when it senses motion... then return itself to it's regular position.

      Might not sound terribly useful to mose people, but it'll be a hell of a lot of fun to hear them try to explain it to the police.
  • Hmmmm.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Posted by timothy on Saturday November 23, @12:33

    a Hungarian company, Timothy
    Technologies

    Draw your own conclusions about /. and front page advertising.
  • by johnty ( 558523 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:43PM (#4739217) Homepage

    Reason for eating out:
    "Someone hacked into my fridge...."

  • DriveMeInsane.com (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AcquaCow ( 56720 ) <acquacowNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:44PM (#4739219) Homepage
    Drive Me Insane [drivemeinsane.com] I saw this link in someone's sig this week...

    A rather cool site that has been setup so you can control a good number of devices and cams in this guy's home. Even his lawn sprinkler. He has had a remote control car with a video cam on it and soforth that you can drive around his house. Definately a must see.

    -- AcquaCow
    • In related news, a house in Plano, Texas burned down today after an electrical fire began when all the lights in the house were turned off and on in rapid succession over and over again. All owner Paul Mathis could say was "Damn you, Slashdot!"
  • using it on the air conditioner. that way you can tell your aircon to turn itself on when your 20 minutes away from your apartment. so when you do get home, temperature's already at a comfy level.
    • A setback thermostat [ca.gov] is really very nice and will pay for itself because you'll never leave or go to bed forgetting to back off on the setting. Ours kicks in before we get up in the morning (it even learns how long it takes for the furnace or A/C to do its job), cuts back for the day, back up for the evening, off at night.

      Cool (ha-ha), requires no thinking, and cheaper. Occam's Razor baby.

      And you can even economize by one "l" in useful. :)
  • Screw that (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brad3378 ( 155304 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:45PM (#4739228)
    How about something that will interface with my palm pilot?
    I carry the thing with me everywhere anyway.
    Bluetooth anyone?
  • Just imagine the damage that a hacker could do your house :)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      yeah, how wonderful... now 3133t script kiddies can 0wn my house...


      alternatively, spend twelve bucks on a couple of timers to turn lights on and off when you're gone, about the only conceivable use that is actually worth something...

  • by TWX_the_Linux_Zealot ( 227666 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:46PM (#4739232) Journal
    I mean, not to sound like a complete luddite here, but do we really need remote control, through the internet of washers, dryers, toasters, ovens, and the like? I don't want some asshole figuring out how to exploit this little ROM attached to my oven, somehow tricking it into going into 'self-clean' mode, thereby getting really hot, using lots of energy, and possibly burning down my house if I'm not there to catch it. I don't want my washing machine turning on, or changing settings in the middle of the wash cycle, and I sure as hell don't want someone screwing with my Air Conditioner settings, living in a desert and all. So, if the real intent is for this to be controlled, via the internet then this is a bad idea.

    If it was made for local control, this might not be such a problem, since a central regulating computer could work with it. However, if it's using a web server, this screams 'inefficient' for that kind of use, and would be much better using something along the lines of UPSd or even some kind of peek-poke method, like we used for IO address manipulation. Otherwise, it wouldn't even work very well for home automation.
    • If it was made for local control, this might not be such a problem, since a central regulating computer could work with it. However, if it's using a web server, this screams 'inefficient' for that kind of use, and would be much better using something along the lines of UPSd or even some kind of peek-poke method, like we used for IO address manipulation. Otherwise, it wouldn't even work very well for home automation.

      Not to be a skeptic, but I'm not sure it's even appropriate for most "home automation" applications:
      "Honey? Did we blow a fuse? I can't turn on the lights and I need to cook the turkey!"
      "Oh, sorry dear. The LAN's down. I should have a new part for the hub by Monday. Can we use the wood-burning stove in the mean time?"
      For most tasks like laundry and cooking, a human already needs to be there to do a lot of the prep work (carrying the clothes to the appliance, preparing the ingredients, etc.). If no one's in a room, then the lights should probably not be on anyway, so remote light-switches seem almost wretchedly excessive to me.

      The only thing I think "home automation" is good for is directed climate control with a centralized appliance (i.e., furnace, but this would require a lot of manual override ability in the event that the automation mechanism failed), and home entertainment (centrally-located media store with streaming media to all viewing centers in the house).

      Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I always thought a house was fer livin' in. Seems if yer already livin' in it, remote activation of them thar lights an' things would be kinda superfluous....
      • Well, assuming that home automation worked right, with minimal overhead, I could see use where an X-Term or some other controlling terminal is mounted near the equipment, like in a laundry room, so different specific controls could be set for different kinds of wash loads, but it seems that it would be a bit excessive.

        The only other way that such a complex system could seemingly be useful is if voice control matured to a point where you would want a central computer listening to what you said when you're in the house, to let you begin to preheat the oven, or to lower the temperature on the freezer if you're coming home with a large supply of food to put in it, etc, but beyond that, I'm not really sure.
        • Well, assuming that home automation worked right, with minimal overhead, I could see use where an X-Term or some other controlling terminal is mounted near the equipment, like in a laundry room, so different specific controls could be set for different kinds of wash loads, but it seems that it would be a bit excessive.

          Although I would certainly respect the hack, this is largely unnecessary as most (at least high-end) modern washers have these capabilities built-in. You might be able to convince me that connecting my Maytag to the (firewalled) Internet is useful because it can download new data (as it becomes available) on how to change its cycle behavior depending on different stains, but you would be hard-pressed to make me believe that remote control was the right design over an embedded solution for controlling the actual washer.
    • YES!!! We do. Guys need gadgets, buttons, blinking lights which indicate things we don't understand and 5 remotes which must be operated in tandem to get anything done.
  • by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:47PM (#4739236)
    If you've ever seen that commercial where the husband unplugs the fridge when his wife tells him she made her tuna casserole and then they go to Outback because of it...

    Husband: "Hi honey, I'm going to be home around 5:00, what's for dinner?"
    Wife: "My special meatloaf."
    Husband: "Mmm. I can't wait!"
    (husband goes to remote admin webpage and turns off the fridge)
    • Yes, the one where the husband destroyes 100+ dollars worth of food because he is to chicken to tell his wife that he doesn't like her tuna casserole. Just the type of complete idiot that would spend 75 dollars on this when a timer would work just a well for much less.
      • Yes the one wear the luser posts a message on slashdot because hes too stupid to realize its just a commercial. Just the type of complete idiot that would get all in a huff as if this actor really did do that to one of this idiots close friends.
    • He's screwed when she checks the logs for errors and see a shutdown message sent from the guy's IP.
  • Fitting into the palm of a hand, FlatStack can remain mostly unseen and does not take up space in the home. The Microsoft/HP system, on the other hand, is relatively large and obtrusive in comparison, though it does offer some bells and whistles not offered by FlatStack.

    What are the Microsoft bells and whistles? BSOD, the ability to tell Microsoft who raids the fridge in th middle of the night, also who watches the p0rn channels.

  • It's got some gee-whiz factor, but really, does anybody need one of these? There's nothing new about the technology, and I don't see consumers scrambling to lay down there hard-earned clams just so they can start the coffee pot from the internet. Another poster makes a good point about security...
  • nothing new (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dizzo ( 443720 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:48PM (#4739249)
    This isn't really new. Ever heard of siteplayer?

    http://www.siteplayer.com/ [siteplayer.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Imagine, something stale being posted on slashdot that isn't really news. holy fucking shit get me the president, ripley, and call guiness. This is almost a news story unto itself and should be posted on slashdot in about a month or two.
  • You would also be able to have an "internet alarm" go off if something went wrong in your home, like leaving the stove on, or a grease fire in the toaster oven or something. You would be able to check in on your house at all times... but then again, so would anyone who had your password, or managed to hack your password. There would be a whole new meaning to internet stalking, and people would be able to track you down and find out details about the inside of your home. I'm not sure if it's really worth it... =\
    • As long as they added a " last login at: " and " x failed logins" when ever you legged in, i can't see it being too much of a prob.
    • I can see the employment agreements now. Systems Administrators at the ACME corporation are required to install the internet monitor 3000 in the main living area of their home as well as a internet accessible alarm system.

      Baby steps to big brother...
  • Do we really want out houses to be computer controlled? What if someone writes a virus, or figures out a way to hack it?
  • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe ( 550052 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:52PM (#4739263)
    ...all the stuff is easily available. In fact, that was my first home Linux project. Parts list: Linux box running Apache X-10 master control module "Firecracker" module from X-10 (serial->RF master) "Firecracker" for Linux program. That's it, perhaps $75 if you spend too much.... Here's the real problem though.....running such a server (either purchased or built) is against your user service agreement for most broadband people. I can understand why the cable internet people wouldn't want some poor slob getting the slashdot effect. It would destroy service for all the others allong the cable modem route. But facts are facts and any server on your equipment is illegal, even if it's just to turn on/off your hot-tub before you get home from work. Of course, there are ways around that.....but that's another story.....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem may be that the announcement is too vague. I've been doing HA for over 15 years with X10 (not the most reliable protocol but I've got it working 98% of the time). I also use an ADI Ocelot for IR, Onewire devices, a weather station and I'm working on an RS485 multidrop network for my controllers (Analog, digital etc, less than $20). My control software is a Perl program called Misterhouse [misterhouse.com]. I wouldn't pay an extra $75 for a coffee put because I could control it over the internet.
  • Uh, I was doing that a couple years ago with X10. Mind you it didn't have the embedded web server, but nonetheless the web control worked and even over my 28.8K dial-up it was sufficiently fast to control the lights.

    The advantage from X10 is their stuff works most of the time, they've been doing it for a while and have a large assortment of stuff. The disadvantage is you are then contributing to their pervasive pop-under ads. I stopped buying from X10 when they started the ads.

    • Buy from http://smarthome.com instead though. They sell X10 compatible modules from other companies, usually cheaper than the equivalent X10 product, and you're not sending your money to X10.

      Its a shame actually, as its the only thing that X10 does well. Those cams they advertise everywhere are crap.

      -Restil
  • LonWorks/Echelon has had this working [echelon.com] for years. Try their demo. Turn the lights in their demo room on and off. See how much energy they're using. This little demo has been running since the late 1990s. You can buy all the components. Components are cheap in quantity. Works fine.

    LonWorks was supposed to be the mainstream system for home control, with backing from some big companies. It never made it. It's become popular in some niche markets, like controlling lights, HVAC, and signs in railroad passenger cars, subways, and such. (The noise immunity is quite good, so it will work in subways.) It's used in industrial control. But it's gone nowhere in home automation.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:58PM (#4739294) Homepage Journal

    .. for my ex-wife, I hope it's programmable.

    if $ExWife in $Bathtub {
    drop $HairDryer in $Bathtub;
    power 1 $HairDryer;
    sleep 120;
    };
  • by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @02:59PM (#4739295) Journal
    ring ring!

    "Hello? Hi Jim, how are you? Well, it's pretty bad here. The lights keep switching on and off and the coffee maker won't shut off. The washing machine keeps overflowing. Every time we turn the oven off, it comes on again. When we turn the thermostat up, it gets colder in here. Last month's electric bill was $15,000.00. We think the place is haunted and just decided that we're going to sell it to the first person to make an offer, no matter how low it is.

    (Ding dong...)

    "Jim, I've got to go. There's someone at the door."

  • that this is exactly what I was told, so many years ago, that Java was originally designed for. Obviously didn't work out, though.

  • before this devices give a FlatStack overflow ! .. your kitchen might get messy!
  • The FlatStack is an entire web server on a tiny circuit board

    I think people are affraid of the term web server because it combines two strong buzz words.

    A pure and simple text web server is actually very easy to implement. It's an 'ask a question, get text back' protocol...

    Unless they plan to stream out MPG feeds from your toasters, creating such a circuit might be just as simple as the circuitry in a fancy watch.

    (It's not a novel concept either)

  • Me: Hey! Check this out!

    ***click***

    ---Flush---

    ***click click click***

    ---Flush flush flush---

    My Wife (in the shower): That's it! I'm divorcing you!

    ----
    The difficulty of a system is only comparable to the ingnorance of the end-user.
  • Reminds me of this [google.com] thread.
  • Egads! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon.gmail@com> on Saturday November 23, 2002 @03:08PM (#4739330)
    NO! I have enough problems keeping my computers secure enough to sleep. No you want me to worry about some script kiddie turning on my wife's curling iron or turning on my oven? No way! I will keep my appliance OFF the internet! :)
  • Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @03:10PM (#4739340) Homepage
    Big whoop. Ubicom [ubicom.com] makes a damn fine embedded TCP/IP platform, and it's all on one chip, with built-in Ethernet using a software MAC. And it's $13.
  • > Later versions of FlatStack will connect to
    > appliances wirelessly. ...coming soon to your neighborhood. Watch blocks of yard lights flash in sequence! Listen to hundreds of stereos blasting!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not only X-10 but TINI from Dallas Semiconductors offers the integral web server w/JVM ($50US), JStamp w/JVM, and Basic Stamp/Javelin Stamp could all be used similarly and are compatible with X-10.
  • by thefunkywumpus ( 599491 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @03:33PM (#4739418)

    is nobody else worried what happens when one of those bratty kids misplaces the remote?

    [dad:] 'hey, who was using the internet last? i can't find it anywhere!'

    [kids:] 'bobby had it last! he was running around with it in the living room. i think he left the world wide web underneath the couch.'
  • by Mika_Lindman ( 571372 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @03:40PM (#4739442)
    This is just what I need! What better way to change channels on my TV, that to connect the whole earth to a single network, and then use this network to change channel on my TV, which is set 9 feets away from me.
    • use this network to change channel on my TV, which is set 9 feets away from me.

      Heh, I was so proud of my technically-challenged wife the first time she forwarded a joke email to me. We share an office, and our computers are four feet apart. She sent it out to the Midwest and back, instead of just asking me to turn around in my chair and read it off her screen.

  • This seems pretty cool, but they should learn from the mistakes of others...
    The first version of FlatStack, which is now released, still has to be wired to the equipment but with standards like Bluetooth and wireless lan arriving, the next release of FlatStack will also support various types of wireless connection.
    Why would I buy this version if the next version's gonna be easier to integrate with wireless?

    Reminds me of Adam Osborne's Famous Blunder [denbeste.nu].
  • All I gotta say is i've been waiting for this day my entire life. Now i can look for porn AND make milk shakes all at the same time! I feel bad for all those computer jockeys though. I mean to think people aren't even gonna have to get up to make a snack anymore, and people wonder why weight gain is such an issue these days. I hope this answers their questions!
  • There's something a bit better out.. cause it's cheaper and only 1 chip big... It's made bay NetMedia and called SitePlayer. www.siteplayer.com [siteplayer.com]

  • I shudder to think of the senseless violence I would cause when my coffee pot BSOD'd.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Saturday November 23, 2002 @04:08PM (#4739568)
    No, I don't, as of yet, want to use this product. I have no interest in remote home automation. But I do think it's cool and people will turn it into interesting things.

    AND THIS IS THE KICKER!!! Once people are using stuff like this, then cable companies must be forced to change their policies to allow servers. Think about it! If the middle-class masses all want to use this to control home security, lights, etc, then the cable company would have to allow a major desire of millions of people to be allowed. Well, not "forced" to, but it's a shot. So anything that needs servers running in the house over broadband gets a vote "yes" from me.

  • Check out MisterHouse [sourceforge.net] seriously cool stuff.

  • by dissy ( 172727 )
    Christ. When someone makes something very useful, small, and in this case CHEAP, all you can do is relate "Well if its attached to the internet it MUST be insecure."

    Get a fucking CLUE people.

    Ok, if you are too inept to know how to secure anything right, yes i would worry about having this too. If i was you in that situation, id worry about most of the things normal people do through out the day.

    [saracsm]
    Oh my god with one small piece of metal a person can get access to my whole house, and another piece of metal gives them access to my car?? The horror! Wont someone think of the security?!
    [/sarcasm]

    Yes, give an idiot power and the idiots power can be exploited. By adding the internet in there, that still wont change anything.

    Does this mean the world shouldnt have this ability? NO!

    I for one would love to have remote access control and monitoring for my whole home.
    I however would also make sure it was secure.

    Just because you arnt security experts and so trust M$ to do all of your security work for you and their ineptness lets you down does not mean that is how everyone else would be as well.

    Use some comon sense. If your oven is attached to the internet, and that gives it the possibility of starting a fire, well it sounds to me like one should build in safeguards that CANT be overwritten by the remote control to prevent that from happening.
    An oven already wont get hot enough to simply burst into flames.. and if it can, that is far from a problem with how it is controlled.

    I would also love for my car to be remotely monitored and controlled.
    Imagine the 'bad-ass' points you would get by foiling a car thieft this way.
    Do i worry that some script kiddie could break in and use this aginst me? Of course i do, thats why i think of all the ways one may go about doing that and add measures to stop it ahead of time.

    Would i trust MS to make something like this secure? No.. Would i trust this guy? Depends, if i could look over his work I may be convinced to trust him. If i couldnt, no i would not.
    Would this stop me from adding my own security in front of all these appliances? Never on your life.

    When people come up with new abilitys and resources for doing things such as this, we also must come up with new ways to make sure they arnt abused incorrectly. The two come hand in hand.
    But at the same time, one generally learns/discovers the way to do something before how to use it correctly. Security will come very shortly after, and just because something can be abused is no excuse to stop its existance or not continue learning.

  • Some people laughed at the guy that wanted voice reconition like there was on his old IBM cause the idea was acient, well....does anybody remember the old Aptiva Commericals?? ;)
  • the dialog going something along the lines of "Honey! some guy in norway keeps using a java applet to burn my toast!"
  • I look forward to FlatFlash, where corporate home pages will take over your monitor, change your TV channels to follow their company's staggered ads across 500 channels, and record all of them on my PVR in case I miss something.
  • I'd be worried not only about hacker attacks on my house but possible invasions of privacy. Given the increasing power and scope of law-enforcement data mining, wiring your home in such a fashion would make the most intimate details of your life available to any packet sniffer.

    And hey, that's just the FBI. I'm sure there would be no commercial applications of such domestic data mining, of course not. Eesh. Count me out of this latest modern convenience.

    iopha
  • Well, the only things that have implemented this in real life so far as I know are

    • A washer that lets you start it remotely -- truly dumb, because who's going to remember to load it, put soap in it... then walk out the door, and still remember to call it. Now if it could dispense the detergent and softener, perhaps (especially if there are water use restrictions or something) -- but even then, just a timer should be sufficient.
    • ReplayTV -- I wish I had the ambition to hack my TiVo for the TiVoNet, just too many things going on at once. Has anyone had their replay hacked (Oh no! More Gilligan's Island!)?

    In general, I'd be very concerned about implementing this. I don't let http requests into my firewall, and I'm not sure I'd like to start, script kiddies or no. Comcast just bought my attbi service, and they're thinking about service caps. My toaster, washer, dryer, fridge, microwave, furnace, answering machine, TiVo, CD Burner, etc. could use up my cap just replying "No, there is no formmail.pl" every twelve seconds.

    Hmmm.. that list at least has a few things worth implementing: a nice speech-to-text on my answering machine would be good, and the remote-programmable thermostat is nearly a must-have. Add to that something to feed and let out (and entertain) my dog, and I nearly don't have to come home for a night.

  • So where's the SSL and the firewall?

    If you can't figure out why this needs to be protected with a password enabled-SSL link and a firewall built into the microserver, you're invited to hook your hot tub to one (and PLEASE point a webcam at it), hook it up to the Net, post the IPs for both the webcam and the hot tub here, and climb in for a nice, long, relaxing soak.

    Request to /. editors, if anyone actually does this, PLEASE make sure the article goes up IMMEDIATELY.

    If the designer didn't think of this, he should be the first one to try this.

  • Although you probably wouldn't want to control your washer, dryer, toaster or microwave through the internet, there is one reason it would be cool to have them connected...

    Notification

    It would be great to know when:

    Your wash load is done.

    Your washer has stopped, unbalanced load

    The clothes in the dryer are ready. (repeat until clothes removed)

    garage door is open

    Refrigerator temperature high - door open
    To a lesser extent:

    Your toaster has popped

    Garbage disposal has run for more than 1 minute

    The food in the microwave is ready and has cooled for a while
    Some appliances that would be nice to control are:

    Thermostat, especially to know when somebody's home and when NOBODY is home

    water heater on/off

    Just the fridge door open could pay for the entire sensor (ever lost a fridge full of food?)

    So notification is the real key here, not toasting bread through the internet.

  • As I right this, the front page of the EETimes is running a story about an on-chip ethernet controller that also contains a rudimentary web server that they're planning to embed in all sorts of appliances for remote monitoring. Apparently it's much cheaper than what is being discussed in this article and it seems this on chip solution can act as a 100mbps ethernet hub for other devices as well.

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