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Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are a Few Home-Tech Startups To Watch 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-is-my-immersion-blender-tweeting-at-me dept.
curtwoodward writes: Google bought Nest. Then Nest bought Dropcam. Then Nest opened up its platform to tech partners, including... Google. This may not creep everyone out, but for those who don't like the idea of Google's all-seeing eye owning their smart-home devices, there are some small, independent companies developing alternatives. Maybe they'll survive long enough to get acquired by a company that doesn't make 90 percent of its money from advertising — right?
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Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are a Few Home-Tech Startups To Watch

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  • by Lab Rat Jason (2495638) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @04:57PM (#47318687)
    ... how about a company that has a more lofty goal than "getting acquired" for once?
    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      Nothing wrong with 'getting acquired' as a goal. Not everyone wants to run a big business. If I had a successful business and Google wanted it I'd sign so fast the ink would burn. Then I'd spend the rest of my life stress free.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        But if Google were to be reviled as much as Microsoft one day, you will be condemned for selling out. Then again, folks would use you as an example of Google's abusive business practices and consider you a victim - while you cry all the way to the bank with your millions for being "ripped off" by a major player.

      • Re:For Starters... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lab Rat Jason (2495638) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:45PM (#47319085)
        There is plenty wrong with _just_ wanting to get acquired. Many times, acquisition is predatory, in the sense that a bigger company wants your tech, but not your people. So you stand on the backs of hard working people until you get your golden parachute, and leave them with nothing but unemployment when you go. Even if that ISN'T the case, if your goal is to be acquired, you make a product that is good enough to get you acquired, rather than building a product great enough to make your company a household name. You have perfectly illustrated one of the biggest problems in startup culture today... namely, sell out and coast because your name was the one on the door of the corner office.
        • by BUL2294 (1081735)
          Not necessarily true. Just because you're the 23-year old "CEO" of a small firm employing 25 people making one product or service, doesn't mean you're capable of scaling up if things take off. Sure, it may be fun & games at 25 people, but if you suddenly balloon to 1000 employees, you'll need someone who knows how to navigate all of the following in the business world: shareholders, investors, salespeople, legal headaches, red tape, patent trolls, new products, multi-year plans, security breaches, log
        • There is plenty wrong with _just_ wanting to get acquired. Many times, acquisition is predatory, in the sense that a bigger company wants your tech, but not your people. So you stand on the backs of hard working people until you get your golden parachute, and leave them with nothing but unemployment when you go.

          This sucks for the people let go, but there is no reason to lose out on a golden parachute if that is what you want. If offered a ton of money, how many of those people would keep working for you - and do you have a right to expect them to stay with you for less money?

        • Except that the person in the corner office incurred risk, something people outside of the corner office did not do. People who incur risk are often handsomely rewarded for it by the market, as they should be. If the people who don't work in the corner office, as you have described, want to work for themselves, they too are free to incur risk although most choose not to.

          • The person in the corner office does take more risk, I agree. But that person is also compensated in the job for said risk.

            Employees of a startup also take risk, but they get very little in the way of compensation for it. Employees risk showing up to work at any time and finding the doors locked. They risk their pensions and retirement money vanishing, They risk being terminated at any time because V.C. didn't come through and the company can't make payroll, and they risk shitty insurance packages. All
        • Tech = people. Assuming the acquirer wants to use and develop the tech, they will need people to do it, and who's better for it than those that have developed it? Of course, if the acquirer just wants to shut it down they may fire everybody, but in that case they may do so even without the acquisition.

      • Nothing wrong with 'getting acquired' as a goal. Not everyone wants to run a big business. If I had a successful business and Google wanted it I'd sign so fast the ink would burn. Then I'd spend the rest of my life stress free.

        At least until you move to Belize...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I like my home just the way it is. If it's called a "dumb-home" then so be it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Ultra64 (318705)

      So then don't buy and install these products.

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:12PM (#47318793) Homepage Journal

        So then don't buy and install these products.

        Remember when people used to say that about GPS-enabled cell phones? "Well, if you don't want one, don't buy one."

        Now every cell phone is GPS-enabled.

        So much for that non-solution. Got any other ideas?

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by Ultra64 (318705)

          >Remember when people used to say that about GPS-enabled cell phones?
          No

          >Now every cell phone is GPS-enabled.
          >Got any other ideas?
          Go to settings and turn "GPS" to off?
          Stop being a luddite?

          "Oh noes, GPS. Now I can tell where I am on a map. "

          How horrible.

          • by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:25PM (#47318903)

            This is /.

            Cue the NSA muh freedoms! posts.

            Clearly the GPS can be turned on by any TLA that wants to track you. The slider is a placebo.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              I don't know why anyone even cares, they know where every dumb phone is too because they know which cell towers are talking to it and what the signal strength is. They don't need GPS to track you unless they want really precise details.

          • by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:25PM (#47318909) Journal

            GP probably knows quite well where he is. The point is it's nobody else's business where he is and just because there's a little clicky on a menu in the phone that says the GPS is disabled doesn't mean that it's the case in all circumstances. Nothing that the big telecom providers, and Google and the like have been doing recently inspires our confidence.

            Soon there may be websites with information on how to disable features you don't like on your eDevices. With informative pages that feature nice illustrations showing were to drill with a #44 drill bit and how deeply, to disable the GPS and no other function on the phone.

            The time is certainly right for sites like that to emerge.

            But yeah, duh, we're all luddites if we don't bow and kiss the ring.

            • by Ultra64 (318705)

              "But yeah, duh, we're all luddites if we don't bow and kiss the ring."

              who's ring? What are you talking about?

              Irrational fear of technology is what makes you luddite, nothing else.

              • Irrational fear of technology WOULD be what would make me 'luddite' as you use the term.

                Problem is, we don't fear technology. Just ways that it's applied. For instance, I have no innate fear of a gun, but if the wrong person points it at me that changes.

                Do you work for one of the Big Data operators? It really seems like it bugs you when we dis Big Data in this thread.

          • >Remember when people used to say that about GPS-enabled cell phones?
            No

            >Now every cell phone is GPS-enabled.
            >Got any other ideas?
            Go to settings and turn "GPS" to off?
            Stop being a luddite?

            "Oh noes, GPS. Now I can tell where I am on a map. "

            How horrible.

            Sorry, since this is Slashdot I was expecting that I would be speaking to a rational adult.

            Forgot that school's out.

            FYI, so you know - "dur, yer uh Luddite" is not a substitute for a valid argument. It's actually a pretty douchey cop-out.

            • by Ultra64 (318705)

              >FYI, so you know - "dur, yer uh Luddite" is not a substitute for a valid argument

              And ad hominem is soooo much better.

              If you had actually read what I wrote you would have seen that my real suggestion was "Go to settings and turn 'GPS' to off".

              Could you really not tell that the luddite remark was sarcasm?

              • >FYI, so you know - "dur, yer uh Luddite" is not a substitute for a valid argument

                And ad hominem is soooo much better.

                That's funny.

                Mainly because your use of the term "ad hominem" in this instance indicates that you don't actually know what that term means. That, or we have a disagreement on my belief that your posts are indicative of an adolescent mindset. What you see as an ad hominem (also funny coming from someone who uses "Luddite" as a weapon against opposing opinions), I see as an accurate description. Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

                If you had actually read what I wrote you would have seen that my real suggestion was "Go to settings and turn 'GPS' to off".

                Which, as we've learned from the NSA, does fuck-all worth of go

                • by Ultra64 (318705)

                  "An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument"

                  "Sorry, since this is Slashdot I was expecting that I would be speaking to a rational adult.
                  Forgot that school's out."

                  You disregard my argument on the basis that you think I am still in school.

                  How is that not ad hominem?

                  • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                    Ultra64, are you expecting us to believe that you genuinely don't understand the fears of those in this forum who oppose your optimistic view of the way data collected on customers of these services will be used? Or are you just baiting and enjoying the argument? If the former, you are one interesting character, and the conversation should proceed. If the latter, you're a troll, and fun as it may be, we should all stop feeding you.

                    • by Ultra64 (318705)

                      "are you expecting us to believe that you genuinely don't understand the fears of those in this forum who oppose your optimistic view of the way data collected on customers of these services will be used?"

                      Yes. All I hear is a bunch of Chicken Little's freaking out because Google will know what temperature they like their house to be when they wake up in the morning.

        • Now every cell phone is GPS-enabled.

          No they aren't. Most cell phones do not have GPS. Even for those that do, you can turn it off.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by CanHasDIY (1672858)

            Upon further review, I found that I was indeed mistaken, based off a misinterpretation of a newer FCC rule. Mea culpa on that one.

            Let's try a different example:

            So then don't buy and install these products.

            Remember when people used to say that about cars without black-boxes? "Well, if you don't want one, don't buy one."

            Now every car has a black box.

            Better? Or are we not counting that one, either, since the mandate doesn't kick in until September?

      • I don't want an UltraSparc. It was 64 bits and all, but noisy and it consumed a LOT of power. So I didn't buy and install it. In fact, I gave it to Goodwill.

        Still, it's refreshing to know that there are other people like me who don't want a 'smart home' and will speak up on the topic. And their detractors are okay, too, I suppose.

    • by Lab Rat Jason (2495638) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @06:00PM (#47319213)
      I've got nothing but love for people who don't want a "smart home", and I respect anybody who wants the peace and quiet that comes with it. For myself though, I want a smart home that doesn't rat me out to every advertiser, as well as the cops. Google does both.

      Think about this: a nest costs $200 according to the literature at my local hardware store, amazon.com shows about the same price. For that kind of scratch, I SHOULD be keeping my privacy.
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:04PM (#47318749) Homepage Journal

    Posting a summary of your own blog post? Poor form, sir.

    • That's how Slashdot works currently... most news sources are submitting everything they have in their RSS feed. See the Firehose section to see how poorly that works.

    • by Yer Mom (78107)

      As is not at least linking to the single-page view.

      (And who breaks pages in the middle of a sentence?)

  • Home Brew (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperTechnoNerd (964528) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:14PM (#47318807)
    I rather make my own devices and sensors. Much more fun and they will do exactly what you want them to do.
  • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:18PM (#47318845)
    there's another real option here. the apple framework with iOS and homekit. Yes, it will be a nanny-state sand box where you can only use hardware and software that are approved. but you won't be tracked for advertising. Apple has the best privacy policy of any big company. they legitimately don't care what you do, as long as you buy their expensive shizz.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rogoshen1 (2922505)

      Oh but they will; they may not advertise it, or do it to the same extent as Google, or even put a shiny spin on it.. but they will track you, and will sell that data -- eventually.

      With shareholders completely focused on short term profits what do you think will happen when the idevice market truly becomes saturated? Ethics and morality are not represented on the balance sheet, and untapped revenue streams will not be tolerated.

      Besides, look at the Apple user base, they are probably a much more sought after

      • Realistically, your choices are:

        * Facebook and their ilk, who will sell your individually identifiable data without a second thought.

        * Google, who will absolutely sell your info, probably aggregated. At least they're upfront about it.

        * Apple, who views their non-release of your data as a market differentiator [macworld.com] and thus a valuable part of their brand.

        As long as people choose Apple for privacy, Apple will value privacy and not sell their data.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Apple promotes Dropcam on it's website, the exact company that Google is going to buy. I don't know what homekit is going to be. Dropcam pretty much requires you to send your personal life to what soon will be Google. The lights require an hardware interface. Presumable Homekit will presumably intergrate the products, if the companies rewrite the software to Apple interfaces. Not to be cynical, but recall the number of Apple ideas that really have not panned out. For instance, I have almost no Apple eb
  • Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by rainmaestro (996549) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:28PM (#47318939)

    Yeah, I'm eagerly awaiting the day when attackers are able to exploit my smart fridge to remotely unlock the smart lock on my smart door. And the inevitable automatic firmware update that bricks my smart air conditioner.

    Why does everything need to be a web appliance? My crockpot should convert electricity into heat and produce delicious stews and roasts. It doesn't need to use my search history to suggest new recipes, I have a PC that can do that.

    On the bright side, I'm looking forward to the instructions on how to run Debian on my blender.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by neminem (561346) <neminem@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:31PM (#47318959) Homepage

      Presumably so you can run Blender on it, and make a Yo Dawg joke about it? I heard you like blending, so I installed Blender on your blender, so you can Blend while you blend!

      • Thank you. I was wondering how long it would be until someone made that joke. Less time that I had guessed.

    • On the bright side, I'm looking forward to the instructions on how to run Debian on my blender.

      I remember awhile back reading the instructions on how to install NetBSD on one of my old Powerbooks. The problem is, the NetBSD kernel and base OS is supported on it, but only the serial console. So I suppose I could hook my Powerbook up to my old VT-220 in order to boot it up and then ssh or telnet into it to run software on it. But it's a Powerbook. With a 68xxx processor.

      Similar anecdotes will apply to many

    • My crockpot should convert electricity into heat and produce delicious stews and roasts. It doesn't need to use my search history to suggest new recipes

      No, but it should be smart enough to temporarily disable the heating element when the sun goes behind a cloud, all the solar panels in your neighborhood stop producing power, and the electric company bumps up the spot price of electricity.

      • by swb (14022)

        Or more intelligently, disable something else so that my reserve power can keep running the crock pot so I can eat before 11 PM and/or not have to throw out a crock pot's worth of ingredients that stopped being dinner and started becoming weapons grade clostridium botulinum.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:37PM (#47318999) Journal
    You don't need a 'smart home', you need a 'common sense homeowner'. Besides which there are already 'smart home' systems out there that don't need to be connected to the goddamn Internet, just use those.
  • by used2win32 (531824)
    Remember: With a normal company you are the customer buying their products. With Google ~you~ are the product they sell to advertisers. They gather and sell your information, you are the product.
    • by itzly (3699663)
      Yes I know. And then I block the advertisers.
    • by Threni (635302)

      Why do people keep saying that? Nobody cares! It makes no difference to anything at any level. "Normal company"? They're all normal companies - they exist to make money. Which company isn't normal? You probably meant "companies you spent money with"; this is clearer; additionally it highlights the emptiness of your "point". People have been "the product" for years; whenever you turn on the radio, tv, pick up a newspaper, look at an advert or a logo on a branded item.

  • All of the so called "alternatives" listed in TFA basically operate on the same crappy model of your gear connecting to vendor owned servers over the Internet to facilitate access.

    When a vendor decides to change their terms of service, change service pricing model, go out of business or EOL product no longer worth their time supporting your screwed to say nothing of potential risks involved should vendor's systems become compromised...which ... never happens... regularly...

    If I can't connect directly to m

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