Microsoft Wants You to Let it Watch Your House in "Near-Real Time"
July 16, 2013 3:00 PM
Is "Lab of Things" big science or big brother? The answer remains to be seen
Talk about ironic timing. Microsoft Corp. (
) was just
slammed with accusations
that it is collaborating with the U.S. government to
promote massive spying efforts
, and today the company announced the availability of its "
Lab of Things
", a "near real-time" effort to track your home utility usage.
First, what is Lab of Things? Lab of Things is Microsoft's latest cloud-based expansion to its cloud-connected smart meter project, which it dubs "HomeOS" (
originally code-named "Hohm"
). Both Microsoft and Google Inc. (
) are looking to
slowly build up userbases of households
with internet-connected smart meters.
The premise, in theory, is to have better control of your utilities by leveraging remote controls and/or by monitoring usage to try to cut your power footprint/expenses.
It is no secret that homes are ever-increasing hotbeds of new technology such as set-top boxes, game consoles, wireless routers, home automation devices, tablets, smart phones, and security cameras. This innovation is breeding heterogeneity and complexity that frustrates even technically-savvy users’ attempts to improve day-to-day life by implementing functionality that uses these devices in combination.
For instance, it is impossible for most users to view video captured by their security camera on their smartphone when they are not at home....To simplify the management of technology and to simplify the development of applications in the home, we are developing an "operating system" for the home.
In other words, Microsoft wants you to hook up your household security cameras (or y
our Xbox One's 1080p camera
, perhaps?) to its "big cloud". As an incentive it's offering Lab of Things -- a slick SDK that gives you functions to analyze big data sets.
If this all sounds a little Orwellian, it might not just be paranoia speaking.
As early as 2009 security researchers showed in
[PDF] that monitoring home power and water usage can
reveal what times you were home
, what times you cook, what times you shower, etc.
The Obama administration, which has committed to
an unprecedented campaign
of domestic spying,
calls "smart meters" a top priority
already begun in many states
. Unfortunately, if you want to remove your usage data from prying eyes, you may not have that right; in some incidents citizens have been
arrested for trying to block smart meter installation
But while a smart grid may allow minor tracking of citizens and lesser invasions of privacy, the Home OS promises a much more dangerous security risk, literally watching your household if you let it.
For those thinking of inviting big brother in, it is important to recall that recent leaks have indicated that Microsoft may be giving the
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) open access to its SkyDrive cloud storage platform. According to leaked documents, Microsoft also worked the
U.S. National Security Agency
(NSA) to circumvent it encryption and other security mechanisms in its Outlook web chat and Skype telephony/video-calling service.
its cooperation in the spying, stating:
We have clear principles which guide the response across our entire company to government demands for customer information for both law enforcement and national security issues.
First, we take our commitments to our customers and to compliance with applicable law very seriously, so we provide customer data only in response to legal processes. Second, our compliance team examines all demands very closely, and we reject them if we believe they aren’t valid. Third, we only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks, as the
volumes documented in our most recent disclosure clearly illustrate
. To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product.
Finally when we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request. There are aspects of this debate that we wish we were able to discuss more freely. That’s why we’ve argued for additional transparency that would help everyone understand and debate these important issues.
Putting video of your house on the internet, where any hacker (or government agent) has access to it is an inherent risky proposition -- particularly given the recent revelations which indicates Microsoft has eagerly complied with domestic spying efforts, where rivals like Google have bucked the government data demands.
Microsoft is encouranging you to hook your home cameras up to its always-on cloud.
Lab of Things may have some attractive uses -- as long as you keep it out of the house. If you set up sensor networks, it can assist you in compiling data. Hobby climatologists and sociologists may gets some interesting mileage out of this angle.
For those who want to check out Lab of Things it's
in beta form. But don't say we didn't warn you. (The website for Lab of Things appears to be currently down, but keep your eyes peeled.)
Microsoft Lab of Things
The Next Web
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
Source: Don't Worry, NSA Spies on "99 Percent" of Americans' Locations, Call Records
June 14, 2013, 3:57 PM
ACLU Sues Government for Tracking Citizens; Boehner Calls NSA Leaker a "Traitor"
June 11, 2013, 8:46 PM
Microsoft Announces Voice-Controlled "Xbox One"
May 21, 2013, 12:55 AM
IL Women Arrested in Their Backyards for Trying to Block Smart Meter Installation
January 24, 2013, 3:04 PM
UPDATED: Obama's "Smart Grid" Initiative Appears to be Mostly Talk
June 13, 2011, 9:42 AM
Google plans ultra-fast wireless Internet for Research Triangle Park, N.C.
August 12, 2016, 6:30 AM
Twitter Senior VP: "Diversity is Important, But We Can’t Lower the Bar"
November 9, 2015, 9:59 AM
CNN Resorts to Internet Censorship to Promote Clinton Over Senator Sanders
October 15, 2015, 2:47 PM
Breaking Bad: How to Crash Google's Chrome Browser With Just 8 Characters
September 23, 2015, 11:08 AM
Quick Note: Amazon UK Offers £10 Back on Any Order £50 or Over
August 3, 2015, 12:05 PM
Editorial: Reddit Allows Itself to be Hijacked as a Hate Platform For Racist Bigots
July 21, 2015, 6:32 PM
Most Popular Articles
Car Insurance - The Hidden Discriminatory Practise
October 18, 2016, 5:00 AM
Tesla Announces Level 5 Autonomous Driving
October 19, 2016, 8:30 PM
Apple iOS Contains Secret One-handed Keyboard Code
October 22, 2016, 5:00 AM
Thieves Love iPhones – More than $13,000 Stolen from Apple Store
October 21, 2016, 7:13 AM
Do you hate to do yard work?
October 20, 2016, 5:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Researchers use CRISPR to Accelerate Search for HIV Cure
Oct 26, 2016, 5:00 AM
Medical Council of India Makes Generic Medicines Mandatory
Oct 25, 2016, 5:00 AM
MacBoo Pro 2016: Release date Oct. 27
Oct 24, 2016, 7:16 AM
Mac Users, Try this if Your Mac is Infected?
Oct 23, 2016, 7:00 AM
Tips to Prevent Smartphones From Overheating:
Oct 22, 2016, 5:00 AM
Nasa Flies Drones at Nevada Airport
Oct 21, 2016, 8:21 AM
T-Mobile Data Problems
Oct 20, 2016, 10:17 AM
Annoying Apple Watch Problems and How to Fix Them
Oct 20, 2016, 5:00 AM
Your Mail May Soon Be Delivered By Robot
Oct 19, 2016, 9:34 AM
2018 Jeep Wrangler Prototype Sells At Junkyard
Oct 18, 2016, 5:00 AM
Samsung Shines with Gold Edition Tablet
Oct 17, 2016, 9:24 AM
Tesla Hints Mysterious Product Debut for October 17th
Oct 16, 2016, 10:14 AM
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones on US flights
Oct 15, 2016, 5:00 AM
Comcast Fined $2.3 Million For Unconfirmed Services Charged To Customers
Oct 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
“American singer / songwriter “Bob Dylan is awarded 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oct 13, 2016, 10:33 AM
Battery Defect in Medical Device
Oct 12, 2016, 5:00 AM
IBM Bolsters Social Services Sector With Technology Grants
Oct 11, 2016, 5:00 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information