Online Trust Alliance’s New IoT Checklist

Earlier this year, we worked with the Online Trust Alliance to put together a Smart Home Checklist to use when buying or selling a home with smart devices. In support of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the OTA released an IoT Checklist to serve as a roadmap to helping consumers increase the privacy, safety, and security of their internet connected devices.

The IoT Checklist is intended to be used as a yearly audit of the connected devices a consumer owns. The OTA wants these types of checks to become routine, just like changing the batteries on a smoke detector. In their press release, the OTA expressed their “hopes that by having consumers play an active role in their smart device’s security and privacy, it will not only increase the security and privacy of those devices but also boost consumer confidence in them.” One of the biggest barriers to smart home adoption is privacy concerns, and by conducting a yearly check of devices and connectivity, consumer confidence will rise. “For the IoT to thrive in the long term, consumers will have to trust that their data and concerns about personal privacy are addressed, and OTA’s recommendations are a positive step to accomplishing this,” says Washington State Chief Privacy Officer Alex Alben.

For more information, or to download the IoT Checklist, visit

#006 – Things Thursday – Air Quality, IoT risks, & more

Indoor air quality matters. Picture of a plant on a table in a home.

Indoor air quality is a very important metric you can help homeowners understand through smart home devices. These sensors make great closing gifts and can help you stay connected beyond the transaction.

Things Thursday is returning this week with a good amount for you to chew on. We are looking at smart home and internet of things (commonly called IoT) and its impact on your business. We bring news from around the web to you that gives a glimpse into the future. Rather than talk about the shiny baubles that are on the market, we aim to uncover the devices and methods that make the smart home valuable. Today, we look at air quality, new programs for inventors to make devices, and a database of smart home devices on the market.

  1. SmartHomeDB (via SmartHomeDB)
    So, the first listing isn’t an article, but something for you to use. It’s a site called SmartHomeDB. With nearly 1,000 smart home products listed, it’s the largest community-supported smart home database. We’re talking to them about working together on future projects and I think you’d do well to keep an eye on what they’re up to. It’s pretty comprehensive and products from many different manufacturers are listed. Get reviews from peers on here as well as what systems each device works with. This goes deep, so you could easily kill a few hours on this site. I’d recommend to brokers to get some familiarity and use it to drive agent trainings. We have ideas around this and you can reach out to us to discuss how this could happen.
  2. The democratization of innovation for the Internet of Things (via IEEE Spectrum)
    Indiegogo is one of several crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter. They’ve teamed up with Arrow Electronics to help inventors make smart home devices. In the article, it’s noted that IoT is still emerging and a bit of a waiting game is happening. Because of this, Indiegogo and Arrow are looking to spur innovation in the space. From the piece:

    The partnership involves Arrow combining its design and production platform with Indiegogo’s crowdfunding engine. This combination will make it possible for qualified Indiegogo entrepreneurs to gain direct access to Arrow’s design tools, engineering experts, prototype services, manufacturing support and even supply chain management—a package of benefits that Arrow has valued at $500,000.

    This is a pretty cool idea, and there’s at least one area I can see that needs more work in order to make smart home devices valuable.

  3. Internet of Things (IoT): The risks and wrong approaches (via GroovyPost)
    This article does a great job highlighting the challenges we’ve talked about on this blog and in podcasts and presentations. From security and privacy issues, to device support and end of life of products that you depend on in the home. This is a great counterpoint to the Indiegogo/Arrow article above. This market is emerging and there are going to be challenges. The reason we entered the space is exactly for these reasons. We need to educate you, the members, on these products and also protect your interests. Consumer safety is a huge concern for these devices right now. I get that, and that’s why we are working with Underwriters Laboratories and the Online Trust Alliance to name a few. If you, as a REALTOR®, are going to recommend a product, you need to be certain it’s a quality, safe product.
  4. Which indoor air quality monitors are best and why (via Energy Smart Blog)
    Folks, read this article, please! It is pretty dense and dives VERY deeply into air quality and why it matters. It’s something I was going to write but Energy Smart Home Performance beat me to it. They do a really great job covering the issues around air quality and what it means for your health. They also delve into some environmental quality sensors on the market and what they mean to you. This pairs nicely with the article from The Real Daily a couple months back on indoor air quality. Why it should matter to you is that air quality indoors can be 5-8 times worse than outdoor air quality and we spend about 90% of our time indoors. Think about these sensors as a nice closing gift to a new homebuyer. Look for more from us on this.
  5. Decentralizing IoT networks through blockchain (via TechCrunch)
    Warning: high nerd quotient.
    Okay, you know that know it all in the office who is up on all the new technologies? I want you to read this article, then go and tell them all about it. They’ll most likely spill their coffee. But I digress. Here’s the point of this article in a nutshell. We have smart devices that we can control from our phones and do some cool stuff with them. Cool. But the issue is that the internet of things (or IoT, as you know), is a growing and unwieldy mass of devices that can’t be controlled by paradigms of the past. Our central hub and spoke model doesn’t work because of the sheer scale and need for connection of these devices. So, enter blockchain, which in lay terms allows for the chokepoints of the hub and spoke to be removed. There’s no central point of connection. It’s decentralized and allows for quicker access. This technology is emerging and you may have heard the term blockchain bandied about in real estate, which we are checking out. This could be a piece in the future of transactions for real estate. It is a good nerdy and satisfying read. Check it out.

That’s it for this overstuffed edition of Things Thursday. Have questions? Want us to cover something? Let us know. You can follow us on Twitter @crtlabs or Facebook.

#005 – Things Thursday – New ways to control your smart home, I talk to my desk & more you modo?

Memodo…do you modo?

Well, it’s a great time to be alive. I can draw on a gadget and have my lights go off. Or, I can toss a rock in a bowl and make my shades go down. OR! I can tell my desk to order spanakopita. But, how secure is all this? It’s a wondrous world. Read on and find out.

  1. A universal interface that you control by doodling (via FastCo Design)

    Drawit, a drawable user interface from Marc Exposito on Vimeo.
    Pretty cool looking stuff. I think this would get to be a little challenging after a while, but it fits in our mantra of zero ui. Devices responding to your touch on a screen. This reminds me of an MIT project, called Open Hybrid, that turned everyday objects into smart objects with a specific sticker attached to it. There was also a project that let you throw things in a bowl to have specific actions take place, called Memodo on FastCoDesign. The cool things about Memodo is you can assign different functions for your home to tokens, like, say, your keys. When you toss your keys in the bowl after arriving home, your smart lock on your door could lock. I like it.
  2. How voice interfaces are colonizing our lives, by the numbers (also via FastCoDesign)
    Great presentation by Mary Meeker at the Code Conference yesterday. Voice is definitely going to be huge. According to the article, Amazon has sold nearly 4 million Amazon Echos. We have phones with voice search and cars with voice. Heck, even desks (see #4). It makes sense as an interface as long as it hears you. My favorite fact is about the types of searches they predict will happen by 2020. Good read.

  3. Who owns the data from a smart home? Homeowner, device owner, or a third party? (via The Real Daily)
    Speaking of good reads (and not because we’re mentioned), The Real Daily has a good piece on smart homes and data ownership. This is a great question that we’re grappling with here. They discuss questions of privacy and security that are tough in a space with no standardization and products made by manufacturers who want to be first to market. Check it out!
  4. I have a desk I talk to. It’s name is Isabella. (via Me)
    It’s actually called the Autonomous Smart Desk with AI. We have some things to hash out with it, but I do like the price point for the basic desk, which has programmable settings and is very sturdy. It’s only $299! The AI desk can control different smart products and order you food, an Uber or play Spotify. I would wait a bit on the SmartDesk with AI, because, as I said, we have a few questions about it yet and are working to discuss with Autonomous. You can check out how the desk works here:


#002 – Things Thursday – Forget Wearables, Here Come Implantables and Standards!!

Devices like the Michigan Micro Mote could soon be part of a new ecosystem in the Internet of Things space called implantables.

Devices like the Michigan Micro Mote could soon be part of a new ecosystem in the Internet of Things space called implantables.

This is a truly mixed bag this week. From implanted devices to government policy. We really threw it around this week. We’re interested in your feedback and questions about smart home technology and would love to

  1. Top 10 Implantable Wearables Soon To Be In Your Body (Via WTVox)
    Forget putting on your Fitbit…what if you had it embedded in your arm and it could stream data to your apps and even your doctor? We’re not that far off. WTVox looks at 10 technologies that are coming that we can wear in us. From smart organs to smart dust like the M3 at the University of Michigan. The point being made here is that wearables are a ‘transition technology’ until we can refine motes to reside in us. There are both positives and negatives to this. I am interested in the verified self, where a chip is embedded that can be used to identify you for purchases, unlocking your door or other security-related devices. It can also be used in the event of a natural disaster to locate people or even use for emergencies in office buildings. This is pretty controversial and I’m interested in what your thoughts are?
  2. IoT Challenges to Ponder Before Writing Checks (via RTInsights)
    I like this piece because it aligns nicely with our approach to this space. We think that there is a need for some type of standardization, that data privacy is important and that there needs to be a clearly defined set of use cases. The market will decide and is already pushing for things. Coldwell Banker/CNET’s recent survey shows that by the end of this year, 45% of consumers will have purchased some type of smart home technology. It also shows that 54% of sellers will install smart home tech if it means their homes will sell faster. But what to buy? Our advice is that you want to understand what ecosystem a platform supports. There are a few choices on the market. Amazon Echo ($179) and Echo Dot ($90) can connect to a ton of devices and has now made it easer for smart home companies to integrate into the Echo platform. Here are links to see which devices work with Nest, SmartThings, Apple and Wink. One app or control point is much easier than several apps for several devices and it seems these companies are now starting to figure that out.
  3. Looks like President Obama cares about the IoT (via Internet of Business)
    The Department of Commerce is starting to see what it can do about IoT security and privacy. The DoC’s group National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is working to determine how the government should be involved in this space, if at all. We’ve been invited to comment on this proposal and will be doing so in the coming month. Do you think the government should be involved in this?
  4. 3 Standards We Need for Smart Home Security (via ITProPortal)
    Again with the standards! Stefan Swanepoel talks about what will take to have IoT devices adopted by consumers. He even mentions….CRTLabs! He’s right though…consumers are ready for this, but we need to make sure their security and safety are considered. Kudos Stefan!

That’s it for this week. What do you think? Have something you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments below!!

CRTLabs, Security & The Internet of Things

As you may be aware, CRT & CRTLabs are focused on the Internet of Things and what it means for real estate. There are a couple of areas we are focused on in order to promote security for the consumer and for the device manufacturer. This focus is part of our holistic approach to the Internet of Things. Not only are we working with vendors, universities, NGOs & government agencies to improve the devices on the market, we also want to ensure that consumers and our membership are protected as best as possible. Currently, security can seem like an afterthought for vendors. We want to make sure they are taking it seriously as we educate our membership on the value of these devices.

Partnership with The Online Trust Alliance – Consumer Focused
Last week, NAR released a smart home checklist in partnership with the Online Trust Allianceº. This is a great tool for our members to provide to buyers and sellers. This checklist covers what to consider when it comes to smart home devices as well as some security best practices for routers, gateways and other networking mechanisms. As we move forward in this ‘always connected’ paradigm, having this checklist will only increase in value.

The smart home checklist was released during Cyber Security Month to highlight that when consumers and REALTORS think of cyber security, we need to think not only in the context of the online world, but also in the context of the real world as these smart sensors and nodes come online.

Along with our work on the checklist, CRT’s been reviewing the Online Trust Alliance’s IoT Trust Framework. This document is in its second draft and will be a guide for manufacturers and consumers in this space. Personally, I am interested in its potential as a springboard for a certification for IoT products. Follow Online Trust Alliance on twitter at @otalliance.

Partnership with – Vendor Focused
Another project focused on security is aimed at educating IoT vendors on its importance. is a group comprised of information security researchers who are stressing the importance of secure devices and code. You may remember the story about the hacking of the Jeep Cherokee this past summer. That work was done in partnership with a group called I Am the Calvalry who are stressing the importance of security for connected vehicles. is an analogue for smart devices. It’s comprised of security researchers from all around the world focused on educating consumers and vendors on the importance of security for these devices. CRT is working to promote their work and partner with them on educating manufacturers to the importance of security.

One of the cool initiatives from is a program to harden the code for device manufacturers. Using a product called BugCrowd, vendors can offer ‘bug bounties’ on their code to verified info security researchers. This allows for an independent third party to review the code and help improve its security. It also frees up vendor resources and allows them to focus more on the features for their products. Follow on twitter at @builditsecurely.

What do you think?
As we push ahead in this space, we’d love to hear from you. Are there projects in Iot & Security you’re familiar with? Tweet your thoughts to @crtlabs.

º Note: CRT signed NAR up as a member of the Online Trust Allianace last month