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Amazon, Apple, and Google take a crack at a home Internet of Things networking standard

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Keeping IoT devices and your laptop on the same network is a risk, says FBI
The FBI recommends changing factory-set (default) passwords and not allowing an IoT device’s accompanying mobile app to gain access to too many smartphone permissions.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have come a long way since David Nichols, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate student, hooked up a Coke machine to the school’s intranet. One thing hasn’t changed, though: The network standards behind IoT have been a bit of a confusing, incompatible mess. What works with one family of devices is total gibberish to another. Now, Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance are working on an open-source network standard to make life easier for IoT hardware vendors and software developers: Connected Home over IP.

This is an interesting development for several reasons. First, Amazon, Apple, and Google own the smart home device market. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have become household names. While Apple’s Siri lags behind them, it still has Apple’s sizable fan community as a large, potentially profitable audience. That these three would agree to work on a common standard is remarkable.

The second reason is the ZigBee Alliance — which has a long IoT history — already has its own standard. This is the ZigBee IEEE’s 802.15.4. It uses the 2.4GHz band and supports a self-healing mesh network.

We need this network standard. As my colleague Jason Perlow recently observed, our “IoT devices are doomed” without a common IoT communication and control standard. Connected Home can be a step to this goal.

The group is trying to find open-source common ground for their network standard. It’s the same story that has made open-source software the success story of the 2010s. By using open source to share the workload of making smart home devices secure, reliable, and seamless to use, all its supporters will get a larger market for their devices and services.

Specifically, Connected Home is building on the Internet Protocol (IP). It will “enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.”

To create this new, unified connectivity protocol, it won’t be reinventing the wheel. Instead, it’ll be building on their existing smart home technologies. This, in turn, will make it easier for device manufacturers and developers to build devices that are compatible with existing smart device services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant. For users, this will mean they can buy devices from different vendors and be sure they’ll work and play well together. 

Although the organizations involved in this don’t spell it out, if successful, this should help make home IoT devices more secure. Given what a mess IoT security is — see, for example, Amazon Ring’s most recent security snafus — anything that might improve IoT security is a good thing.

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The Bizarre Porsche Cayenne That Was Never Actually Made

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Porsche’s engineers eventually came up with two designs for the Cayenne-PMF, both of which varied predominantly over the tail light. But ultimately, the entire idea was canned. With the Cayenne-PFM convertible idea, Porsche originally set to answer four key questions:

  1. If the windscreen and A-pillars are reduced, and the roof tapers over the rear half, would the car still offer a comfortable seating experience?
  2. If the Cayenne’s doors are elongated by 20 centimeters and it is offered as a two-door model, does it make sense from a practical standpoint?
  3. Is it possible to accommodate a quick-folding soft-top roof that also meets Porsche’s standards for quality and design?
  4. And the most important question of them all: How the rear should look?

Michael Mauer, Chief Designer at Porsche, remarked that “an SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally.” Mauer, who wasn’t a part of Porsche back then, added that “very strange shapes” emerge when an SUV’s bulky body is amalgamated with a convertible’s smaller, open-roof looks (per Porshe). However, it was not the just aesthetic and practical failures that put the Cayenne convertible plans on cold ice. 

“Forecasts regarding profitability were not particularly promising and doubts remained as to whether the car would look as appealing as a Porsche should,” says the official blog marking the 20th anniversary of Porsche’s venture into the SUV segment. As for the one-off Cayenne-PMF convertible unit, it lives on at the Porsche Museum in Germany’s Stuttgart.

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Tesla Body Damage Repairs Cost Way More Than You Might Expect

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In a YouTube video, Ryan Shaw, a creator who specializes in Tesla and Tech content, described just how much it might cost to repair a Tesla after an accident. According to him, the repair cost of his Tesla Model Y after a rear-end collision was almost $20,000! Some of the most expensive parts that were replaced included the lift gate at $1,200, the quarter panel at $1,150, and the rear bumper at $680. Ryan Shaw’s Tesla Model Y was also involved in another rear-end collision with a repair bill that cost around $10,000. Lucky for him, the repair costs of both accidents were covered by insurance.

It’s not the first time that Tesla vehicles have proven to have expensive repair bills — a windshield replacement for a Tesla Model X could cost you as much as $1,311 without labor. Another YouTuber, Rich Rebuilds, claims he fixed a Tesla Model 3 at his garage for $700 after Tesla estimated the repair cost at $16,000. Also, a Tesla owner based in Finland decided to blow up his Model S after Tesla estimated a cost of $22,600 to replace the battery (via Gizmodo).

Similar stories are all over the internet, and even though the can’t all be verified, it’s a concern that most Tesla owners complain that repair costs are too expensive without a warranty or insurance cover. At the moment, Tesla discourages its customers from taking their cars to third-party repair services.  

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Supercar Brands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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In 1990, an unnamed businessman from the UAE contacted German racing car manufacturer Lotec and asked for the fastest car in the world. With the promise of a blank check, Lotec began developing the car in 1991, and by 1995, the C1000 was finished. It featured a 5.6L Mercedes twin-turbocharged V8 engine that made over 1,000 horsepower. According to Motor1, Lotec claimed the car had a 0-62 mph time of just 3.2 seconds, and a top speed of 268 mph. The C1000 was strictly a one-off, but at a development cost of $3.4 million, it’s not like many other buyers could have afforded one anyway.

Creating the C1000 gave Lotec owner Kurt Lotterschmid the supercar bug, and shortly after development finished, he set about building a follow-up. By 2001, the brand’s next car, the Sirius, was unveiled. It was planned that five units a year would be created, each car selling for $462,000. The Sirius featured a mid-mounted Mercedes V12 making 850 horsepower, with many of the car’s internals derived from Lotec’s racing parts bin. It was a similar recipe to the Pagani Zonda, which launched just a few years prior, and shared the same engine. However, unlike Pagani, Lotec couldn’t drum up much interest in its ultra-expensive supercar, and only one example of the Sirius ended up being built.

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