Weekly News Roundup : 16/5/2016

This week we saw smart things do dumb stuff, Amazon releases its own IoT Button and Instagram’s Boomerang seems to have copied Aussie developers RWND.

We are seeing more and more smart devices connected to the internet doing some really clever stuff. From monitoring your home with your smartphone to self monitoring passenger jets to internet connected booze.

Hang on, that's not my front door!
Hang on, that’s not my front door!

Ring however has had a weird glitch pop up that allowed users of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro system be able to access the video feeds from other users of the same service instead of their own front door.

The glitch started from the use of two databases of user accounts referenced by random numbers generated to identify the user accounts and smart doorbells. The resulting situation resulted in a collision where one doorbell was confused with another in the other database but with the same random number and the wrong feed getting sent to the subscriber.

Ring acknowledged the issue and has stated that it is in the process of merging the databases into a single database.

This does highlight the issue of the importance of having a well constructed database supporting the network of internet connected products to prevent at best embarrassing breaches like this or at worst potentially catastrophic failures that could result in expensive loss of property or worse injury or death. Think I might be over-reacting? Autonomous driving is already a thing. Get that wrong and things go sideways very fast.

Original story and image from The Verge.

Here is a really simple example of the Internet of Things (IoT) and it is brought to you by Amazon.

503667-amazon-aws-iot-buttonIt is call the Amazon Dash button and it is simply a big branded button with a single purpose once programmed. The Dash Button was initially released March 31 2015 and people thought it was an April Fools prank but it quickly became a preferred way for consumers to order often used items like laundry detergent, paper towels or other high-volume consumer products.

The concept is to have the single-function button installed near where the product is stored and when the item runs low the button is pressed which then places an order with Amazon to have the product ordered, paid for and delivered. There is also an option to have a message sent to the account holders phone to confirm the order.

Amazon has partnered with over 100 brands and now the Amazon Dash has been released  to developers to allow them to program the Amazon Dash to their own applications from unlocking and starting your car to opening your garage door to ordering your favourite pizza, to sending messages to your spouse. The possibilities are endless for a developer with the Amazon Web Services smarts and US$19.95 to purchase the device.

This is a good start for the internet of things with a heavyweight like Amazon behind the infrastructure, the potential for success is high as long as you are happy to play in Amazon’s sandpit.

Original story and image from PC Mag.

Aussie developer : That’s my app!

What do you think? Too close?

In October 2015 Instagram released Boomerang, a simple video app that played short video clips backwards and forwards giving users a fun way to look at short sequences in rewind. With well over 10 million downloads from the Google play store (no numbers available from the Apple app store) the app got solid reviews with an average of 4.2/5.

Owned by Facebook, Instagram is an industry juggernaut that would be regarded as one of the most innovative organisations around the world and would have been the first to come up with such a fun idea.

Problem is, that Aussie developer Zarfo created and released RWND an identical app 14 months before Boomerang hit the app stores! Andrew Cunningham initially woke to the news of Boomerang with a little amusement and felt flattered that Instagram would monkey his project that he set up as a fun sideline for his studio to take a short break from the usual grind of business for a month. There was some clever solutions put together to overcome some technical challenges (that Andrew notes Instagram appears to be finding a fix for) and resulting intellectual property was developed.

With Instagram’s rebranding the similarities however became all to clear. The app was not only copied in function but the infinity symbol used in RWND was strikingly similar to the logo used to idenify Boomerang.

In an interview on Tech Web Cast, Andrew went through the process and outlined a number of outcomes that he could see. He is looking for legal advice but admirably stated that he would be willing to contract his studio to Instagram to help them work out the kinks for the Boomerang app.

To listen to the interview, check out Tech Web Cast Ep. 378.

Original story and image from News.com.au.