Smart devices often require you to use a special app, to register a new account, and to install a hardware bridge. You need a Philips Hue Bridge for switching your Philips Hue lights on and off. You need a Nest Heat Link for controlling your home’s temperature with the Nest Thermostat. You need the August Connect for controlling your August Smart Lock remotely.

# The things we are really interested in

Too many things are needed to control the things we are really interested in: smart lights, smart thermostats, smart locks and other smart devices. With so many things, it becomes overly complex to understand who has access to your personal information. Also, having a Philips Hue Bridge, a Nest Heat Link and an August Connect provides hackers three new ways to intrude into your digital and physical life.

For battery-powered devices it is complex to connect to the web directly. This is because WiFi is not well suited for low energy communication. As a result, most hardware vendors provide bridges likes the ones mentioned, via which smart devices communicate to the Internet. Because most vendors choose proprietary protocols for device-to-bridge communication, one is forced to buy a bridge from each vendor.

Now in order for you to be able to simply switch your lights off remotely, you should first install and open the vendor’s app. After having authenticated, this app connects to the vendor’s web services, which in turn authenticates to and communicates with the bridge, and the bridge with your lamp. If everything works OK, your lights should have been switched off now.

Imagine this situation in your connected home of the future! Now with many connected devices from multiple vendors. This would not only provide a bad user experience, it also provides uncertainty in respect to your privacy. Moreover, vendors would have a hard time securing this infrastructure.

With the expected growth of the Internet of Things we need a moment to stand still and rethink today’s smart solutions.

# Three ideas for a simpler Internet of Things

Yes! Connecting to Internet of Things devices can and must be made a lot simpler. Simpler and better!

Yes! Connecting to Internet of Things devices can and must be made a lot simpler. Simpler and better!

First, identity should be put at the center of every smart device its infrastructure architecture. I want to use my connected physical objects from everywhere, but I also want to get in control of my privacy. It does not feel right to provide every device’s vendor a backdoor to my private home network. People should get the freedom to use smart devices the way they want it.

Secondly, it should be made simpler to start interacting with smart devices. It is too much hassle to install multiple apps for controlling a single connected home. A solution for this problem already exists. It is called the physical web. This is an open approach to enable quick and seamless interactions with physical objects.

Third, devices should be design for scalability. Having the need for buying multiple bridges and registering multiple accounts does not scale well. It would already help a lot to let smart devices start using Bluetooth Low Energy. This would not only allow smart devices to connect to your smartphone directly, but also introduces the possibility for creating an universal bridge through which things from multiple vendors can communicate to web services.

# Build for the Connected Office

Dear smart device manufactures, thanks for creating such innovative smart devices. It was great fun switching my home lights on and off all the way from sunny Spain, making my neighbors believe I was actually at home. But not only that, I also realized that all these technologies made being at home even more relaxed. Now it is time to mature Connected Home technologies and to work towards the Connected Office.

The era of the Internet of Things has just started. The film The 6th Day, released in 2000, shows an internet refrigerator which informs Arnold Schwarzenegger that the milk is over and asks him to confirm a new order. As of now, I don’t know anyone having such a refrigerator. The future of the Internet of Things is unpredictable. But whatever that future looks like, let's work together in providing the best user experience.