I’m traveling the world for some of my work. In two of the cities I’ve been visiting over the past few weeks I’ve been using new IoT devices–Bluetooth enabled IoT devices that are paired with a home network or the smartphone of the connected assistant you speak to. These SmartBlox devices use in particular Z-Wave technology to speak to Bluetooth-enabled Home Automation devices and certain IoT cameras.
I’ve been using these devices in and around various tourist destinations around Seattle, Oregon, and then last weekend in Malibu, California. I’ve walked past smart home devices while I was grocery shopping (not meant to make me a hypocrite). Each one is also connected to the smart home of the hotel where I stayed, so the amount of data and usage it collects and reports keeps on growing.
Overall, I’ve found the devices to be convenient, not intrusive, and the typical features are very welcome. The fact that these devices could detect when I was walking across the room, in the kitchen, or into the bathroom with my phone means I can connect appliances that would have previously been inconvenient to connect, such as smart mirrors. But to save power, you still need to have a smartphone, and yes, if I’m not having dinner with someone or writing a book, I might be losing signal.
But one thing has bothered me about the technology, at least for me: it doesn’t really remind me of the Internet of Things.
In all the devices I’ve encountered, the connectivity was only with wifi, not Bluetooth. Of course, on my phone I now have over 600 million dots connecting to my network. Even more perplexing is the quality and speed of the connection being provided. Maybe the timing and frequency of the connection could be stronger or a different version of Bluetooth could be used. So that means, with all the latest wireless technology being deployed, not one of them can be equipped to connect in a timely fashion to the attached smart home devices connected to Wi-Fi.
So, yes, for me there’s no reason for object alarms or thermostats or even outdoor security to continue to be connected to each other or to my smartphone. That would be an annoyance if not part of a conscious decision I’m making, but these devices are already really smart. They just aren’t connected to each other.
While I’m not disputing the necessity to ensure that IoT devices are connected to the latest wifi standards or to other home automation devices (which are, in fact, smart devices too), it seems odd that there’s no Bluetooth protocol available for these devices, and I’m not sure why. The practice of using Bluetooth to communicate with IoT devices isn’t new; it’s been going on since the 1980s. And Bluetooth is still much cheaper than Wi-Fi.
It would be easier and more cost effective to get the devices to wirelessly connect together to integrate into one cloud network.