Blog: Internet Of Things

The IoT: Innovation or Exploitation?

Ken Munro 18 Nov 2015

I’ve no issue with progress and the fascinating opportunities that the Internet of Things brings. There is huge potential in areas such as assisted living, healthcare, general convenience and potentially even a bit of energy saving.

However, whilst buying just about everything IoT I could find in the name of security research (you should see my Amazon recommendations!) I have been surprised to see what I consider to be profiteering in the name of IoT.

Essentially, take a ‘thing’, make it internet enabled, add $$$ and profit++

Are manufacturers cynically selling us products that we don’t need, exploiting the fanbois and geeks in us all?

Here’s an example that surprised me

You’ve no doubt seen our investigations in to the Smarter iKettle and Wi-Fi coffee machine. I really liked the form factor & it makes a decent cup of coffee too.

It’s £179.99 in the UK, available on numerous online retailers.


I was surprised to then find an almost identical machine on Amazon for £79.99. Same form factor, clearly the same manufacturer in China, just without Wi-Fi control.


So, what’s the difference?

The ONLY significant difference I can see is the control PCB. That’s this thing:


The ESP8266 is the Wi-Fi module, or about $3-7 of additional cost, depending on the module spec.

Yes, I accept that a mobile app needs to be written to interface with it, buy how does that account for another £95?!

Similarly, the iKettle is around £90 currently.


Again, addition of a Wi-Fi module – VSD03 in the case of the original iKettle and ESP8266 for the iKettle 2.0 – and add profit.

I’ll leave aside the security angle for the moment. Surely though, with the potential profits available from IoT devices, we would expect to see these devices and their mobile apps to be secure.

Wow, there’s some money to be made in IoT. Maybe I’m doing the wrong job!