As we progress further into a connected world, our actions and behaviors become increasingly quantifiable. As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to gain momentum, so too the proliferation of data about our lives.
While connected technologies will undoubtedly make our lives more convenient, we should remain aware of the privacy cost these conveniences demand. Such vigilance is especially important now that big companies such as Google, Apple and Samsung are moving into the IoT and home automation space. I say this not because they are "big, evil corporations" but because they have lines of business that have nothing to do with the connected home.
Nest is a good example. A small company that makes connected thermostats is now owned by a big company (Google) that clearly wants to turn that thermostat into a hub for an increasing number of devices in the home. The "Works with Nest" program will invariably produce a host of third-party hardware that interoperate to make people's lives more convenient. The subtle cost is that the data enabling this convenience is funneling through a company whose bread and butter is targeted advertising. Now, Nest has stated that its customers won't see ads on their thermostats anytime soon -- but the data generated by homes can be utilized in ways that aren't so blatantly obvious.
Now, I'm not suggesting we retreat into caves and put on tin foil hats. What I would suggest is that we support products that are transparent about the security and use of the data they generate and eschew the ones that don't. After all, it's OUR data -- these companies are merely the stewards of it.
In creating the Hobson open-source automation platform, I tried to accomodate both sides. Users can send their data to the private Hobson cloud where it can provide insight through analytics. But, for those that value privacy over insight, Hobson can keep its data local and remain a fully functional product -- the cloud is not mandatory. I feel this is something we should expect from all the connected products we invest in.
So, where is your connected data going?