[Contributor] Repairing the Internet of Things

Alexander Gault_Contibutor_Photo

Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

The connected TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, electrical outlets, cars, and so on have made their foray into the market, and into our homes. But with these new innovations comes a cost, and that cost is one of the most basic of any appliances.


When you have a broken refrigerator, chances are you can call a repairman or the family handyman to fix it. When your refrigerator no longer can stream Netflix, though, it’s less likely that you can call your family handyman, or even some repairmen. And it’s unlikely that the local computer repair shop will know what to do with your appliance either, as they are not typically run on a normal operating system.

The clearest example of the difficulty of repair presented by the connected world is in the car industry.

Since the late 1990s, cars have had increasingly computerized components used in them. Modern cars have MPG calculators, WiFi hotspots, computerized speedometers, thermostat units, and all other manner of computerized units to make it comfortable and convenient for its owners. Even car doors are more complicated than before, with auto-opening features on sliding doors and trunks that can disable a door with the slightest mechanical error.

A few months ago, I was watching a mechanic explain the systems of an Audi. He explained that often, when a car comes in with a service light on, it can be attributed to a simple sensor error, or even a trivial issue that can be resolved without the help of a mechanic. For example, most German luxury cars, including this Audi, have a slew of sensors in their electrical systems, that can detect even a blown trunk light. When the car came in for its routine servicing, the tool to detect error codes turned up multiple errors for cabin and trunk lights, all contributing to error codes on the information panel that worried the customer.

Car mechanics have, therefore, been required to update their methods, and sink much more time and education into their profession than they expected. For those who cannot or will not train, they quickly lose their relevancy.

This is the future for all handymen, those who make it their profession to repair things. In 10 years, your refrigerator will be automated, telling you when you’re almost out of food. And when it continually shows “Out of Milk”, or even worse, orders more each time it queries the sensors, you’ll have to find a mechanic relevant to the current decade.

Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his school’s newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault