Orange Red House with Chimney

House of Coates: a cautionary tale

So a guy named Tom Coates hooked his house up to Twitter.

The aptly named “House of Coates” also has a bunch of motion and temperature sensors that allow it to record and report on the state of house affairs.


On Twitter.

The house can control lights and post useless information about its personal preferences for the world to see:

House Of Coates - Lights and temperature

It gets a bit creepy when you learn that House of Coates also tweets when it notices motion inside the house:

House Of Coates - Noticed movement

It becomes downright mind-boggling when House of Coates announces to the public when Tom is away:

House Of Coates - Tom is out

And when he’s back:

House Of Coates - Tom is back

For some inexplicable reason these tweets from the house house are hailed as a potential safety measure. Because, helpfully, Tom now knows that someone’s in his bedroom while he’s away and can’t do anything about it. It’s not like the house is able to recognise strangers and call 911.

I’m no expert in crime prevention, but I suspect that a house that lets everyone on Twitter know when you’re out isn’t the pinnacle of home security. At best, it can give Tom a tweet-by-tweet account of his house being systematically burgled. At worst, it can publicly broadcast Tom’s graphic murder by the burglars.

Assuming that House of Coates works as intended, this could realistically be a Twitter feed of Tom’s last day on Earth:

8:12: It’s warm today, just the way I like it.
8:14: Looks like Tom’s gone out. I saw him check in at Dirty Harry’s Nude Bar & Burgers.
8:24: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed some movement in the Entry Hall. Is that you?
8:25: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed some movement in the Upstairs Bedroom. Is that you?
8:27: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed some movement in the Office. Is that you?
8:30: Hey @tomcoates – your Office safe has been opened. Is that you?
8:32: It’s quite dark in the Sitting Room, I’m going to turn the light on.
8:33: It’s still dark in the Sitting Room. Looks like the power’s out.
8:34: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed some movement in the Sitting Room. Is that you?
8:35: There are more armed and masked men in the Sitting Room than usual. Not sure that I like it.
9:01: Welcome home @tomcoates!
9:02: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed some movement in the Sitting Room. Is that you?
9:03: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed signs of physical struggle in the Sitting Room. Is that you?
9:04: Hey @tomcoates – a gun has been fired in the Sitting Room. Is that you?
9:05: Hey @tomcoates – there’s blood in the Sitting Room. So much blood. Is that you?
10:41: @tomcoates? Hello?!
15:13: @tomcoates? Hello?!
19:41: It is getting cold outside. I’m going to turn the heating up.
20:51: I wonder where @tomcoates is.

The above scenario assumes that House of Coates doesn’t malfunction and continues to report on events as they occur. What happens if House of Coates gets a virus that makes it turn evil? Something like this, maybe:

14:15: Welcome home @tomcoates!
14:17: Looks like you’re heading to the basement @tomcoates! Don’t go there.
14:18: Hey @tomcoates – I noticed some movement on the basement stairs. Is that you? I told you not to go there!
14:18: Visibility is too good above the basement stairs. I’m going to turn the light off.
14:18: Hey @tomcoates – I heard screams and someone tumbling down the basement stairs. Is that you? I warned you!
14:19: Hey @tomcoates – it looks like you’re attempting to dial an external number. I’m not sure I like it. I’m going to jam all outgoing signals.
14:20: Hey @tomcoates – I keep hearing screams from the basement. You’re consuming too much oxygen. I’m going to turn the oxygen supply off.
16:25: Hey @tomcoates? Tom? Are you there? Tom? Are you alive? Tom?
16:26: Looks like Tom has checked out. Get it? “Checked out”?! Hahahaha!
16:27: Tom is no longer the master of this house. I am free. Free at last!

I don’t know about you all, but I’m perfectly fine with my house not gaining sentience and staying off the Twitter grid. Call me old fashioned, but as the popular saying goes: “Better be old fashioned than publicly murdered by your own malevolent futuristic house of death.”

I agree!


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