In the past I have written at some length about smart door bells and other internet connected devices. Two or the largest technology companies producing such equipment are Ring and Hive. Last week, quite suddenly Hive announced that several of their internet connected products were to go out of support. In an article published on technology news website The Register, a spokesperson said:- "At Hive, we've got big plans to make... homes greener, so we've made the tough decision to discontinue our smart security and leak detection products. As a smart tech brand in the middle of a climate crisis, we know the focus needs to change and will instead be developing smart home tech that'll help get us closer to achieving Net Zero". Home automation platform Hive plans to terminate key products in its line, including the Hive View cameras, HomeShield, and Leak products. Users, some of whom have invested four figure sums in Hive products are less than impressed. The indoor and outdoor cameras and HomeShield will be supported until August 1, 2025. The Leak sensors will work as normal until September 1, 2023, after which leak notifications and water usage graphs will dry up. Once that August date is reached, the cameras will simply no longer function. Video playback subscriptions will last for "a minimum of two years." Older security products also face the axe, including the Sound Detection service for the Hub 360, which will be killed off at the end of this year. More up to date is the Boiler IQ trial, which is also on the chopping block. The explanation: "Hive has taken a business decision to not move forward with this product – and to focus on other areas of innovation instead." Hive's discontinued products can still be purchased from a variety of retailers in the UK, Netherlands and North America. In the meantime, Hive's decision is a reminder that IoT devices are not forever. The hardware might be strong, but all too often the cloud behind them is less soOne of the problems very few people have considered when discussing “The Internet of Things” as digitally connected domestic devices are often called is that of durability and lifecycle. Whilst, for example, a central heating system may last for twenty or so years (with a boiler swap – out halfway through), a smart phone with an associated app to remotely control the heating system has an average life of not much more than a couple of years. There is no guarantee that the app will continue to be supported on later version of the phone or tablets’ operating system, or that the app itself will still be available. As some of you may know, I worked for seventeen years as a senior technology analyst in a multinational consulting company. I did some research some years ago into the possibility of replacing some very expensive, proprietary interactive touch screen screens outside of office meeting rooms which showed who was using the rooms, and who would be in there next with much cheaper Android tablets fixed to the outside of the meeting room. The Android tablet hardware worked out at less than one third of the cost of a proprietary screens, but the problem was that the company that provided the meeting room screen software could not guarantee that their code would carry on working for at least five years, and after multiple Android updates. The project ended up dead in the water because of this. I think that many similar situations may well arise in domestic environments, where a device such as a heating or lighting system with a relatively long lifecycle is to be controlled by a tablet or mobile phone with a far shorter life cycle, and with software with a shorter life cycle still. I feel that much of the “Internet of Things” is actually a solution looking for a problem.
The recent hot weather seems to have encouraged an increase in anti social behaviour - especially amongst local illegal motor bike and scooter riders. There seems to be an increase in illegal vehicle activity even over and above that we are unfortunately subject to. Erith has for several years been plagued by youths on illegal, unlicensed motorbikes and scooters; the problem appears to be worst around the Frobisher Road and Manor Road area. The scumbags ride their illegal vehicles along the pavements, very close to pedestrians, and also weave in and out of the traffic on the road. They usually end up heading East, and onto the Slade Green Marshes where they cause a nuisance to walkers and legitimate users of the protected marsh area. Local residents have been complaining about this behaviour, and Neighbourhood Watch has been active in working with the Police to get something done about the matter. The general procedure the Police carry out when arresting illegal, unlicensed and uninsured riders is that their bikes or scooters are confiscated and crushed. One can only hope that this will be the case in future instances. The only thing is the offenders will probably just go out and steal another bike and carry out their anti social and criminal acts as before. I feel that it will take another death before they realise how dangerous their activities are. Back in 2006, when the 469 single decker bus still ran on a route that included Manor Road, a young scooter rider came roaring West along the road; a West bound 469 was stationary at the Frobisher Road bus stop, and an East bound 469 bus was coming the other way; rather than waiting for the Eastbound bus to pass, the young rider raced for the gap; he was crushed between the two buses. The ambulance crew were able to stabilise him for long enough to get him to hospital, and his family to get to his bedside to say goodbye. I can see this terrible state of affairs happening again unless the illegal riders do something drastic about their behaviour.