Ideas to keep data from the home, in the home
Last week, I asked a lot of questions about the network of surveillance we are building with the IoT, how much of it was coming to light in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, and how we seem to be building it out further to handle the pandemic. Apparently I’m not alone in my worries, as I’ve seen three responses to these questions emerge that might help address some of my worries: from a startup, a government regulatory body, and a group promoting the IoT in Europe.
Let’s begin with the startup. Kneron, a company I covered in April that makes a chip for edge-based machine learning, on Thursday launched a platform for sharing device data within a home network and performing local machine learning on those devices to provide services. Any device that’s part of the platform needs a Kneron chip, so I have my doubts about how far this can go, but the architecture is worth looking at.
Albert Liu, CEO of Kneron. Image courtesy of Kneron. The so-called Kneo platform lets any device that has the appropriate Kneron chip (although ideally, it could be any chip running the appropriate software over time) to become part of a secured, local mesh network where device data can be analyzed and acted upon. For example, a doorbell camera that has the Kneron chip inside could use that chip to run an image recognition algorithm locally on the camera. When the camera recognizes you, it could signal a door lock to open over the local network.
This becomes more interesting if the camera sees you with an unfamiliar face. It might then refuse to unlock the door, or would unlock the door but also send an alert to the network, depending on how you set it up. The network is secured using the blockchain, which is where the second aspect of this platform comes into play. The idea is to create a marketplace of apps that can use the Kneo data to perform specific tasks.
So the owner of the video camera and door lock might download an app that prevents anyone from following a recognized person into a building. Or someone who owns a smart light and a door lock might download an app that turns the lights on when the door is locked and the owner’s smartphone leaves the building.
Essentially what Kneron is proposing is a secure and local exchange of data that could govern a smart office, smart home, or even a smart city. The ability to share data with apps consumers choose presumably lets them control what data companies have access to, including what data they want to share in exchange for a discount or service. I’d argue that we sort of already have this ability today, when we click through end-user license agreements in order to get our hands on the latest data-scraping apps, but at least in this scenario, my data would stay on the device until I allow it to leave. And if I uninstall an app, I could exit the contract I had with the provider and protect my data again.
But I have also witnessed so many...