Insight

Getting Things to Get Along

by Jason Ocker

I’m only an aspiring shut-in, but I still want my house to be my best friend. Unfortunately, smart houses are like flying cars and jet packs. We’ve been promised them for decades, yet in a world of private spaceships and instant access to information everywhere, I’m still getting confused over which pull cord turns on the light or the ceiling fan, sticking jagged pieces of metal into doors to gain entrance, and being surprised that we’ve been out of milk for days.

The digital age has a glaring blind spot, and it’s right where we live.

The foundational problem with the connected house is the connecting part. Every appliance, every device, every adjustable part needs to be on the same wavelength in order to communicate with each other and across the web.

A step in that direction has finally been taken by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), the industry board that includes Cisco and IBM and Microsoft and other heavies that could bring this future to the present.

They’ve officially backed a communications protocol called Messaging Queuing Telemetry Transport, or MQTT. MQTT is a long-established protocol that right now is apparently best known for being the one Facebook Messenger uses.  You can read more about it here.

Of course, that’s only a small step for mankind. A ton of things have to happen to make the smart home a reality. The move by OASIS is less a starting line than it is prep to paint a starting line at some point in the future. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever live in a fully smart home in my lifetime.

I’ll probably just remove all my ceiling fans.


Jason writes. Tells stories. Develops strategies. He oversees a wide range of creative and technical projects. He’s also an award-winning author of half a dozen books and has been featured on or in CNN, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, The New York Times, and TIME.

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