Dec 17 2019

Sneak Preview

The Crownstone Built-in One comes with revamped firmware and allows the user to toggle a light extremely fast. The last newsletter explained the sophisticated process with multiple bootloaders and multiple steps to get this firmware also to all the Zero generation Crownstones built-ins and plugs in the field. Now the time has come for us to make use of this new firmware to provide you with new functions. The most important functionality we will be adding is the ability to gracefully handle multiple people in a household. The complexity of handling this is staggering! We think we are almost there and our group of beta testers will be testing this new functionality over the holidays extensively. Below you see a sneak preview of this large update!

At the right you see that there are phrases underlined just like hyperlinks on the internet. By clicking on them you can alter them, for example you can change “all day” to “while it’s dark outside” if you want a particular Crownstone only to be on while it is dark outside. To be able to define a rule for “somebody” means that nobody is left in the dark anyore.

Company Culture

Often we talk about either smart home technology - its applications, new products - or world-wide smart home topics - privacy, open-source, sustainability. We rarely talk about Crownstone as a smart home startup. What is its vision? How do we want to work together to achieve this vision? We created a document template to be reminded of our mission and core values: save people time, encouraging people to go for quality time, and operate transparently. Even the existence of this document is a testament to the latter.

Then, how is it to work at Crownstone? Even though we do not agree with the ethics of the large IT companies, there are many things we can learn from them as a smaller company. Our meetings are kept to a minimum. A lot of our decisions are through thoroughly worked out documents with cons and pros. We did not forbid slides yet. We do have an open office space and we might benefit from more uninterrupted streaks of time. It’s a pity that so many things are still unknown though (read e.g. the consequences of an out-of-hours email ban on happiness). We are too small to enforce an API for every function in our company, but we encourage automation in on-boarding, shipping, etc. to give ourselves “quality work time” as well. (See us, busy bees working on code.) We’re convinced this will all improve the quality of our products and our services!

Smarter Homes

Our previous email detailed the Crownstone Built-in One, the newest version of our hardware that can be used in series with a conventional light switch using switchcraft. We demonstrated our new hardware on the Bright Day and the Excellent Woonbeurs. This gave us a lot of opportunity to talk with people to learn what smart home features are most wished for.

What becomes more and more clear to us, is that there is a large privacy void between American and Chinese companies that can be filled by customer-centric European companies. One of the questions we got - for example - was if we knew baby monitors that were developed with privacy in mind. A pretty decent request, upon which we had no aanswer! Maybe one of you do?

Slide curtain motor

We’re always looking for collaborations with hardware manufacturers that have the same vision on privacy (the user is the owner of their data). Recently, we talked with Slide, a company that makes motors to control curtains. They spend a lot of time making it work perfectly for any curtain. Think of all different weights a curtain can have. Think of sensors to decide to pull harder when necessary. Think of calibrating itself so it also knows when it is half open. However, most importantly, they are working hard on a local API. This means that no data needs to go “to the cloud”! It is currently in closed beta, especially due to the fact that the local and cloud authentication mechanisms are yet incompatible. It looks like a great product to integrate with next year! Tell us what you think!

What else is happening?

  • Apple has a new privacy statement. Even if Apple’s motivation is to attack Google, the end might justify the means.
  • Github, owned by Microsoft, speaking out against the policies enforced by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
  • Gitlab cancels their plans to track their users.
  • Apple’s treatment of developers can be improved.
  • The EFF explains why scanning for contraband files on the client side breaks end-to-end encryption.
  • Tracking users by audio fingerprinting. A sad way in which privacy breached in an admittedly innovative manner. It’s a bit like using battery level to implement tracking.
  • Tracking users by carriers on a large scale. All cellphones in Spain for eight days! Note that a SIM card connects to cell towers and conveys your location in a manner that you can not disable. Even when your battery dies you can still be tracked, but that is another story.

17 December 2019

Show Comments

(not shown automatically to support your privacy)