“This is just the beginning of what I will call a ‘portable, Internet-of-Things environment,’” Cerf told the Internet Hall of Fame in an interview at a global summit entitled, “The Internet Age: Founders to Future,” hosted by the Internet Society and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D. C. last June.
Cerf predicted that household appliances would soon become part of this portable, wireless environment. “We’re expecting lots and lots of appliances, not just smartphones, to become part of the Internet environment,” he said, including every-day appliances.
“It will be things that you have around the house, like your refrigerator and your ovens, heating and ventilation, and security systems.”
Wireless communications will make these appliances portable, like mobile phones. “You’ll move from house to house,” Cerf said. “You’ll be bringing equipment with you.”
As more of these devices make their way into homes, the value of the Internet will increase, he said. “All the computing resources of the Internet can reinforce the utility of these portable or mobile devices,” Cerf pointed out.
Along with this wireless capability comes a need for more network security, Cerf asserted. “We need strongly-authenticated end points so that the wrong people don’t control your devices at home, or gather information from simple things like temperature sensors or security sensors,” he warned.
Cerf reiterated this point as keynote speaker at the “Internet of Things Conference,” hosted by the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Internet Society at the Computer History Museum in February.
“I can’t help but emphasize the importance of being able to configure a device that knows who it’s not supposed to talk to,” he said.
Appliances should have a “limited ability to communicate,” Cerf said. He confessed, “The headline I worry about is, ‘A hundred thousand refrigerators attack Bank of America.’”
The devices will also need to have “interoperability,” enabling common interactions between systems and users, Cerf added. Without it, “You end up with a whole bunch of fragmented controllers scattered all around that you have to interact with independently,” he said.
Finally, interfaces must allow for ease of interaction with less dependence on keyboards and other accessories. “Our interaction with these devices has to be something better than your mobile with a keyboard,” Cerf contended.
“Our expectation that these devices will be more like communicating with other people could turn out to be a very important element of this Internet-of-Things environment. We’re clearly not there yet.”