KosherSwitch (tm) on IndieGogo ... Can it be Smart and still Kosher? Can we build an alternative in software?


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #1

I’m not an observant Jew (and certainly not a Rabbi), so I can’t comment on whether or not this product (or concept) is truly Kosher.

http://igg.me/at/kosherswitch/x/3973929

Like many inventions, KosherSwitch® technology employs simple concepts to provide indispensable benefits. Our technology revolves around several layers of Halachic uncertainty, randomness, and delays, such that Halachically, a user’s action is not considered to have caused a given reaction. Within the KosherSwitch®, algorithms operating on the internal micro-controller create all of the patented innovation. Once installed, a KosherSwitch®-based device is constantly and autonomously functioning through the cycles detailed below.

When you slide the on/off button, you’re moving an isolated piece of plastic. It is purely mechanical, and is not attached to anything electrical (eletro-mechanically isolated). This is done at a time when you see a green Status Light, which provides 100% assurance that the relevant components within the switch are inactive. Subsequently, after a random interval, the device will activate and determine the position of the plastic by flashing an internal light pulse. The attached light fixture will be triggered only after the switch overcomes two failure probability processes – one prior to this light pulse and one after it. Halachically, your action is simply the movement of an isolated piece of plastic with no implications of causation.

But it does beg the question… can the concept be integrated with SmartThings and/or implemented solely with existing SmartThings technology and various connected lights and controllers?

The solution seems to rely on the fact that the physical activation of the switch does not directly or indirectly cause a light to be turned on or off, and thus no “work” is done (paraphrasing): The light circuit is only opened or closed after a random event has occurred; the isolated plastic switch only exists to prevent or allow the “indirect” random event from occurring or to occur.

In all seriousness: Considering that SmartThings, at times, exhibits non-deterministic behavior… perhaps the Platform already has some or all of the elements necessary for Kosher sabbath compliance?


This is a real product and an honest device integration discussion. If I’ve inadvertently caused any offense, please PM me rather than flagging the post as offensive, so I can perhaps reword the posting? Thank-you!


(Keith Croshaw) #2

I’m not Jewish and find this funny, it seems like a lie, like the cake…


(Alex) #3

According to my understanding, when one observes Sabbath, one is forbidden to directly cause fire to ignite or put out.

Electricity is considered “flame”, therefore light switches and other electrical devices should not be operated on Saturday. That includes microphones and motion sensors. On the other hand, there is no problem operating lights on timers.

This switch seems to be a mechanical workaround.

You may as well pick up a stick and flip the switch, same eletro-mechanically isolated principle.

If some rabbi endorsed it, it doesn’t make it Kosher.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #4

The keys to the successful Kosher designation is not only the mechanical isolation, but also the randomness… There is no “certainty” when the light will turn on or off, even after moving the gate. You’ve only changed the probability, which g*d ultimately controls.

An analogy is if you opened a window which happens to let the wind maybe put out a candle, though I don’t know if this example would be more or less likely to be declared Kosher… Surely g*d controls the wind too.


(Alex) #5

It probably loads a spring and shoots a ball that eventually hits a relay.

Either way, it has intent and undermines the sanctity of the day.

Some scholars may successfully argue that it is or is not kosher.

I think SmartThings could serve the Sabbath observing crowd quiet well if set up properly.


(Ron S) #6

It mentions KosherSwitch and KosherLamp. My wife taught at a Jewish school for years and all her friends follow the tradition. They start the food on a crockpot on timer before Friday evening till Saturday evening. ST can be of use here.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #7

There definitely is “technology precedent”, such as this App which performs several functions (and/or prohibits certain functions?), so as to permit the Kosher use of a smartphone on the Sabbath.

http://shabbosapp.com/

If some particular level of “uncertainty” (in order to eliminate “direct causation”) is a key factor in obtaining Kosher certification, then one argument remains asking if any electronics or software with only pseudo-randomness actually is sufficient. If so, then a “random” Lightswitch Device could be implemented in SmartThings via software (and/or via the use of an external true random number service: https://www.random.org/ ).




(Ron S) #8

As per missus they don’t use phone during that period. Just confirmed. I would know coz there are no messages to her during that period. Else it is forever and ever.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

But could an Observant purposefully move in front of a SmartSense Motion that has been programmed to randomly ignore motion for various periods of time, but when not ignoring motion, it will activate lights?

To me, this seems to ensure the same level of electrical isolation (one is moving in front of the sensor, but not touching it), and a method of adding uncertainty….


(Alex) #10

This is actually cute! If one doesn’t want to observe a religious practice, why bother with workarounds?


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #11

Apparently these workarounds are about following the “letter” of the (Halacha) law, regardless of the “spirit”. (And it is supposedly argued that if gd did not want loopholes to be exploited, then, since gd is perfect, would not have permitted loopholes or the technology to exploit them, to exist. … or something like that. Consult your local Rabbi, of course).


The details of the Halachical arguments at this following link, make me believe that Halachical scholars must make excellent lawyers (and/or useless ones if these arguments would not hold up in secular courts).

http://www.kosherswitch.com/live/halacha/overview


(Ron S) #12

No clue buddy! :slight_smile: 20 chars.


(Ron S) #13

A study… Abide by the copyright. This is posted for information and learning purposes only. :wink:


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #14

Excellent reference! Thanks!

I would be inclined to say that the KosherSwitch™ is physcially similar to a Motion Sensor (as I mentioned as a possible compliant alternative), though the inventors believe the introduction of some random uncertainty puts it into Kosher territory.

The reasoning is that, although an Orthodox Jew should not do anything during the Sabbath that has impact on electrical devices, they can perform acts in advance of the Sabbath that will have impact during the Sabbath. By this reasoning, many rabbis teach that timers are acceptable on the Sabbath but motion sensors are not because if one triggered a motion sensor, one would be affecting the state of the world directly with one’s body (accordingly, devices such as motion sensors must be automatically or manually disabled on the Sabbath). We discuss these issues further below.


(Ron S) #15

I got a purpose now. I will conduct my own study on my missus’s friends if she lets me and get their thoughts… 'coz mostly they go wild… When they next visit us and show them the ST automation and see what they feel! I for sure know what’s going to happen with the hues… :slight_smile:


(Christopher Masiello) #16

This is pretty simple. The rules are the rules. All of this stuff is a clear, purposeful attempt to violate the rules.

Whenever I asked my father a “gray” ethical question as a kid he said the same thing: You know it’s wrong or you wouldn’t be questioning yourself.

It’s all just a bunch of not-so-clever attempts to have your cake and eat it too.

If you believe you should observe the rule - do so. If you don’t value the rule, stop playing a cat and mouse game and just do what you want.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #17

I agree that this sure seems to violate the spirit of the rules, though, again, besides g*d, I presume Rabbis have some degree of authority in this area and they have obtained such blessings, so to speak.

Regardless, I’m not sure I would say it is “not clever”. This is a very “clever” project, especially if you consider it a clever way to take in over $50,000 (so far! – with over 30 days to go and the publicity that comes from a funded campaign, this could easily reach hundreds of thousands of dollars).


And yup … as far as I am concerned, profiting from the Sabbath is rather questionable as well, so I hope they intend to make this a non-profit product, or the makers do not consider themselves Kosher, or whatever.


(Aaron S) #18

The theology of this is very interesting, and independent to each home. I think it is fascinating (and awesome) that someone wrote a case study on halakhic rules of smart homes… read it end to end - thanks for posting!

How about the SmartThings version: Aeon Multi + connected Bulb + dish towel