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Privacy Google Technology Hardware

Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the remember-when-we-just-had-to-worry-about-our-devices-catching-fire dept.
Advocatus Diaboli sends this excerpt from an article about the data collection capabilities of the Nest Protect 'smart' smoke alarms, and how they could become a privacy concern: Consider that each Protect is packed full of sensors, some of which are capable of much more than they're doing right now: From heat and light sensors to motion sensors and ultrasonic wave sensors. This simple little device could scrape an incredible amount of data about your life if Nest asked it to: From when you get home, to when you go to bed, to your daily routine, to when you cook dinner. Now imagine how a device like that would interlock with another that you keep on your wrist, like the forthcoming Android Wear. Together, they would create a seamless mesh of connectivity where every detail of what you do and where you go is recorded into a living, breathing algorithm based on your life.

Neither Nest nor Google has stated any intention to turn Nest's hardware into more than it is right now. Protect is an alarm, the Thermostat is a thermostat. But as Google ramps up its vision to connect every aspect of our world, from Android Wear to its acquisition of a company that specializes in high-res, near-instantaneous satellite imagery of Earth, it's easier than ever to see why it would cough up billions for a company that has installed hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi connected devices in the homes of Google users."
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Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms

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  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @06:30PM (#47258825) Homepage

    listen, Life is NOT a movie, a hacker cant reconfigure the temperature sensor into a "FLIR heat sensor" to give them ANY information other than how hot it is on the ceiling in the hallway where you mounted it. That Passive IR sensor cant be magically turned into an HD IR camera, it's a single specific function sensor that can detect if smoke has entered the chamber, you cant turn it into a spy camera. Then you have a CO sensor that is specifically designed for it's task, again cant be reconfigured as a direction Co2 and other gas sensors to detect if you have been smoking crack in the bathroom again.

    the ONLY data that someone can glean from this is local mounted temperature, alarm state and CO2 levels. Nothing else. even if you left for a 4 week vacation in your Paris apartment you cant even hope to get data if the house is unoccupied unless you set the thermostat to very low and it was the dead of winter.

    https://www.sparkfun.com/news/... [sparkfun.com] 6 seconds on google turned this up. It even has links to the sensors data sheets.
    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardow... [ifixit.com] for the ifixit teardown

    Please, if you write an article, Know something about the subject, spend DAYS researching it before you publish the information. This is why "bloggers" have zero respect and are mostly ridiculed.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @06:32PM (#47258837) Homepage

    Odd, I work in the real home automation market and none of the Crestron, Control4, AMX or Vantage stuff is going that route. Only the very very low end self install stuff is "cloud based".

    Maybe if you bought real home automation gear you would find that what you don't like is not in the real stuff, it is only present in the low end toy stuff.

  • by Polo (30659) * on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @08:27PM (#47259643) Homepage

    wrong.

    nest thermostat can detect you, and actively tries to determine if you are home.

    The nest protect can ALSO detect you, and well enough that you can do the "nest wave" underneath it to silence an alarm.

    They also communicate back and forth so that the thermostat can turn off the furnace if there's a fire, and the thermostat can go into "away" mode when nobody is home.

    The protect has two ultrasonic sensors, an occupancy sensor, a light sensor and a variety of smoke/heat sensors:

    Nest protect sensors [nest.com]

    I can't find a simple summary for the thermostat, but it has occupancy, temperature and humidity sensors at least.

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