CEO of Vivaldi Technologies Jon von Tetzchner: "In the future, your email will be rigged to your smarthome lighting system and your lavatory will be rigged to your spam filter [okay we made the second part up]."

What kind of Graphical User Interface and core conduit should we be using to access and control our Internet of Things (IoT) devices? Do we need dedicated ‘native’ apps in all cases or can we rely on browser based web services for control? What if there were a browser that was optimized and built for the IoT itself?

The Norwegian capital of Oslo has a rich history in web browser creation and development, the city is already known for the Opera highly functional (some would say not widely enough adopted) Opera web browser.

Scandinavian software smörgåsbord

Joining Opera in the Scandinavian browser stakes (and also adopting a classy name label) is Vivaldi, which this month hits its latest version 1.5 release. Actually the Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner is a co-founder of Opera.

Vivaldi is designed to allow users to control the color of smart-home lighting through browsing — a function that its development team insist is a first, at the browser level.

According to Vivaldi, this release offers a lot of improvements including being able to drag tabs, tab stacks and tab selections between windows.

Vivaldi’s light bulb movement

Vivaldi integrates with Hue color lights from Philips… the idea here is a new type of synchronization between the physical and virtual worlds.

“After enabling Hue in Vivaldi Theme Settings, a tap on the Philips Hue Bridge confirms the connection. Selecting which lights Vivaldi should control, the browser will synchronize your physical surroundings with the color of the web,” said the firm.

Let’s face it, some users are going to love the idea of seamless integration between the browser and physical space. At the same time, some people are going to find this whole idea a complete nightmare.

“This is just a first step for us but imagine a world where you get notified for a new email or web notification through a light bulb,” explained CEO Jon von Tetzchner, in happy upbeat terms. “Vivaldi is all about customization and flexibility. Integrating with IoT devices like Philips Hue makes it possible for Vivaldi to adapt to you and your everyday life.”

Stop the web, I want to get off

Does this all sound like too much for the average user? The average advanced smarthome user even?

Writing on Digital Journal, Claudio Buttice said that, “Vivaldi is an innovative and highly customizable freeware web browser that mostly aims at appealing niche market of web geeks rather than the vast majority of the public.”

In the same vein, Jake Swearingen writing on NYMag pointed to, “An insane amount of customization available by default [where] most of these things can be replicated to some degree using plug-ins in both Chrome and Firefox.”

Okay so yes, Vivaldi is freeware and there are no strings attached. But it speaks of the wider stage of development of the IoT in general. No, people do not, generally, want to reprogram their entire home lighting systems to be web centric and IoT empowered. Yes they will accept new add-on devices that come with this kind of functionality built in from the start, but in general it’s tougher to get consumers (or businesses) to rip-and-replace existing devices with IoT empowered ones unless they really represent a sea change in usefulness.

Home heating systems (such as Hive from British Gas in the UK) are at the tipping point of “inside the tornado” adoption. Electronic video doorbells (however good the Ping doorbell might be) are further off the adoption curve. Email tagged browsers controlling home lighting? Well, in Norway maybe it’ll catch on.


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I am a technology journalist with over two decades of press experience. Primarily I work as a news analysis writer dedicated to a software application development ‘beat’; but, in a fluid media world, I am also an analyst, technology evangelist and content consultant. As the previously narrow discipline of programming now extends across a wider transept of the enterprise IT landscape, my own editorial purview has also broadened. I have spent much of the last ten years also focusing on open source, data analytics and intelligence, cloud computing, mobile devices and data management. I have an extensive background in communications starting in print media, newspapers and also television. If anything, this gives me enough man-hours of cynical world-weary experience to separate the spin from the substance, even when the products are shiny and new.