Ever left your crockpot on after leaving the house and wished you could turn it off with your mobile phone? Do you want a phone-activated lock for your front door in case you lose your keys? The Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas premiered devices like these showing the potential for WiFi-connected housewares, but also the growing privacy concerns of the Internet of things ecosystem.
Cisco Systems predicts there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020.
Samsung unveiled its Smart Phone mobile application, which will turn a phone into a remote to change settings on Samsung TVs, washing machines, computers and air conditioners.
Belkin unveiled a new line of devices using its WeMo system that connects devices to a mobile application. The Belkin WeMo lighting system allows users to dim the lights from anywhere, and the WeMo crockpot connects with an application to send reminders, allow users to adjust cooking time, temperature or check the status of a meal.
Apple is also working with manufacturers to connect more devices to iOS applications through its MFi program. The Tianzun air conditioner built by Haier is the first such appliance to be certified through that MFi program.
The Smart Lock built by Goji gives users remote control security for their home, turning the phone into a house key, showing pictures of people at the door and giving guests the power to enter the door at certain times of the day.
The increased power of WiFi connections creates opportunity but also responsibility for tech companies looking to create new smart devices, to do so with security and privacy in mind, said Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen during a speech on Wednesday at CES.
"It's crucial that companies offering these products that are part of the Internet of things act to safeguard the privacy of users to avoid giving the technology a bad name while it is still in its infancy," Ohlhausen said.