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article imageMan spends 11 hours trying to persuade a smart kettle to make tea

By James Walker     Oct 12, 2016 in Technology
A man has spent an entire day attempting to get a smart kettle to make him a cup of tea. The English data specialist found his Wi-Fi enabled kettle was no longer connecting to its base station, preventing it from functioning and leaving him without tea.
Mark Rittman first detailed his problem in a tweet yesterday. "Still haven't had a first cup of tea this morning, debugging the kettle and now iWifi base-station has reset," Rittman said. He added "Boiling water in saucepan now." Rittman proceeded to detail his progress towards fixing the kettle, gaining mass attention in the process.
Rittman first tried to use the kettle shortly before 9am. The companion app entered debugging mode though, causing the kettle's base station to reset. After that, the kettle and its controller became completely disconnected, leaving Rittman attempting to "recalibrate" the kettle. Several hours later, Rittman still hadn't solved the problem and the kettle and base station were refusing to link up.
Rittman was forced to port scan his network to identify the location of the kettle. After eventually reconnecting the kettle to the Wi-Fi, the app said the device had to be recalibrated another time. After the calibration procedure completed, the kettle began refusing to connect to the network again though.
The kettle eventually started working eleven hours after Rittman first attempted to make his cup of tea. However, as the kettle came back online, another of Rittman's smart home accessories decided it was time for an update. His Philips Hue lights temporarily switched themselves off to install a new firmware version, leaving Rittman in the dark. Luckily, he was able to interact with his kettle using voice control.
Rittman said the problem with the Smarter iKettle was its lack of integration with third-party services. The iKettle uses its own system to talk to other devices. It has "flaky" Wi-Fi connectivity though, causing the erratic network behaviour, and no support for common smart home integration providers such as Apple's HomeKit and IFTTT. Rittman said he had hacked compatibility with these systems together himself.
The data specialist's struggles epitomise the current problems with the Internet of Things. Few people want their kettle to suddenly stop working or their lights to turn off for a firmware update. Device vendors don't currently offer fall-back functionality enabling devices to remain functional while their "smart" features are broken. In the smart home of the future, boiling water will require a Wi-Fi connection.
There are also security concerns with the Internet of Things. A year ago, researchers detailed a string of problems with the Smarter iKettle, the same device that Rittman owns, that enabled attackers to extract Wi-Fi passwords from the kettle. They warned that the security around the Internet of Things is "utterly bananas" and will need dramatic improvement if smart homes are to go mainstream.
More about internet of things, IoT, Wifi, Internet, Networks