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Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and anything else that grabs my attention.
Gizmodo's reporter Kashmir Hill turned her apartment into a smart house for two months. By granting her household appliances connection to the Internet, she wanted to find out what it would be like. With help from Surya Mattu, Gizmodo's data reporter who monitored the smart home's network activity, the aim was to see how much personal information the house would reveal—in Kashmir's words, how much her house would "betray" her.
"I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed," Kashmir described the experiment.
Unsurprisingly, the smart home revealed quite a lot, with data trails indicating what time her family woke up and went to sleep, how much TV they watched or which shows were their favourite. This perceptive article on Kashmir's experience, together with interesting insights by Surya, makes a successful attempt at making the conversation about smart homes and the Internet of things more personal and less abstract.
But however grave the privacy risks of smart homes are, Kashmir's experience was in fact dominated by another issue—living in asmart home was "annoying as hell." Being constantly bugged by various apps and struggling to make all the different devices work, the description of Kashmir's struggle will give goosebumps to anyone who had to cope with a badly performing wireless gadget of any sort.
"I thought this was going to be a story about privacy, but instead I was finding out how infuriating it is to live in a janky smart home," wrote Kashmir. "The fantasy of the smart home is that it will save us time and effort, but the friction involved in getting various devices from different companies to work together meant that many things took longer to do."