Why Can’t I Talk to My “Things”?

Blog - Talk to Things

On PI day (3/14), I was working with my Raspberry PI to see how many of the systems and devices that I could potentially display and control using a simple web application. I am in the middle of construction of a new home and being the technologist that I am, I have purchased all types of new “things” to see how they might fit with my new environment.

To my major disappointment, I still see most of these devices communicate using very specific languages and protocols instead of common web-service API’s. I understand why manufacturers sometimes feel that this gives them more control, but to me that just seems to inhibit my ability to innovate something cool. Luckily, MachineShop has a service that can convert some of these proprietary protocols into RESTful API’s I can use for my application but I still need to get them on a network.

I have heard all the arguments about costs, networks, etc over the years but today it seems like adding WiFi and a simple web server should be a no-brainer. Most of these large systems like my HVAC are already controlled by microprocessors with sufficient memory to run this interface. True, I am a minority today in communicating with these systems, but given that my system will cost well north of $15K I expect this type of interface. If manufacturers were to add these interfaces I’m certain there would be a huge interest form the developer community which would innovate and come up with new ideas that even manufacturers could use to improve their products.

Purchasing add-on devices, I have been able to convert some of these “things” to “Services”. I found an interesting device to connect to my alarm system that now makes it a Service I can control, for example.

On my part, I’m refusing to purchase “things” that are not connected with Services moving forward. It certainly requires a lot of work but I know it will reap huge benefits for me in the future.