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
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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
Amazon Airborne Fulfillment Center – Your Merchandise Drop-Shipped from the Clouds
December 29, 2016, 5:00 AM
Amazon is experimenting with a new kind of grocery stores, Amazon Go
December 8, 2016, 5:00 AM
Google has developed Deep Learning Algorithm to detect Diabetic Eye Disease
December 4, 2016, 5:00 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
Most Popular Articles
OPPO R9 – The Smartphone with Excellent Camera and Long Battery Life
January 12, 2017, 12:01 AM
Are you in the market for a private antenna?
January 11, 2017, 12:01 AM
Comparison: Xiaomi Mi Mix Vs. HTC U Ultra
January 14, 2017, 12:10 AM
Super Hi- Vision Will Amaze the World
January 16, 2017, 9:53 AM
Huawei P10 Smartphone – Coming this Spring
January 11, 2017, 12:01 AM
Latest Blog Posts
News of the Day Wednesday 1/18/2017
Jan 18, 2017, 12:01 AM
Jan 17, 2017, 12:16 AM
News of the Day
Jan 16, 2017, 12:10 PM
News and Technology Advancement
Jan 16, 2017, 7:58 AM
Jan 15, 2017, 12:32 AM
Here is Some News
Jan 14, 2017, 12:39 AM
News: Improved and New products
Jan 13, 2017, 12:01 AM
News around the world
Jan 12, 2017, 12:01 AM
Rumors and Announcements
Jan 11, 2017, 12:01 AM
This year CES and ridiculous gadgets
Jan 10, 2017, 12:01 AM
Nokia Android phone spurns the west.
Jan 9, 2017, 12:08 AM
New at CES 2017 - Changhong 8K Super Slim TV 65ZHQ3R
Jan 8, 2017, 1:07 AM
Debuted at CES 2017 - Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses
Jan 8, 2017, 12:39 AM
Some news of Day
Jan 7, 2017, 12:01 AM
News 2017 CES
Jan 6, 2017, 12:01 AM
Here is the Latest News in Tech
Jan 5, 2017, 1:47 AM
AI Beats World’s Best at Chinese board game “Go”
Jan 4, 2017, 11:21 AM
Las Vegas 2017 CES
Jan 3, 2017, 12:01 AM
News of Jan 2nd 2017
Jan 2, 2017, 4:40 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information