Facebook has a new US patent which will allow it to control personal Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
With the Internet of Things now starting to become established in the home, this could represent a big addition to Facebook’s range of activities – and a change in direction.
The social network is currently focussed on allowing people to interact with other people. This new patent would augment that, and allow people to interact with things.
The patent includes examples of the kinds of ‘machines’ that might be controlled. These include a thermostat, an automobile, a drone, a toaster, a computer, a refrigerator, an air conditioner, a robot, a vacuum, an actuator, and a heater.
Share and share alike
The patent also allows for a person to give control of their IoT devices to other people. This could be family, friends, work colleagues and so on. It could, for example, mean all the members of a family would be able to set temperature controls remotely.
There are plus points for end users here. Providing a centralised control system for all the IoT devices in a home or other location, regardless of the company they were bought from, could save people from having to install multiple apps for fine-level control, and provide instead an integrated, all-in-one solution.
IoT and a wider remit
It would allow Facebook to extent its central role in people’s lives, as the IoT starts to take off in the home and at other locations, and so could extend the company’s reach beyond its current focus on social interactions.
Co-founder and CTO of EVRYTHNG, an IoT platform builder, Dominique Guinard, told Internet of Business: “Allowing friends to control devices is an interesting concept. Actually we proposed a standard way of achieving this with social networks in 2010 in a project called the Social Web of Things that was using Facebook to share control and sensing on real-world devices. The security issues are not necessarily greater than with other IoT systems as sharing can be based on standard authentication systems.”
Guinard went on to tell IoB: “In terms of Facebook gaining access to critical information this indeed could be a concern but if implemented correctly Facebook does not need to have direct access to the devices (e.g., by using an authentication proxy that gives access to Things through Facebook). What they would however probably gain access to are the usage patterns of our physical devices which is highly valuable information and, in some cases, highly private information.”