Whose Brain I Did Put In?

Another big challenge in a burgeoning market like Smart Home is vendor longevity. Before automation, we have seen a number of products become orphans as their vendor either disappeared, or the product line was dropped or made obsolete. Support for the product may have vanished, but at least the products themselves continued to work.

Today, the Smart Home automation adds a new risk dimension, as a company bankruptcy or product end-of-life may mean your light bulbs no longer work, your coffee maker no longer brews, or you cannot unlock the front door!

What happens when the vendors supporting the automated cars decide to pull the plug on their services? Does the car continue to work? What about the door locks? Can you still get into the house? Alarm system? Refrigerator? Oven? Thermostat? Does your entire automated Internet of Things life go dark one day?

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds as there is already a precedent for this.

There once was a company called Revolv. It made a Smart Home hub, and was acquired by Google’s home automation company Nest a few years ago (which Google itself had acquired earlier). Shortly after the acquisition, they announced that they would no longer be making hubs, and would shut down the related cloud service. In other words the hub would simply stop working that day. And they did. Stop working, that is.

This may be the way of the future. Where we used to assume we “bought” things and could run them as long as we wanted, it seems the paradigm has changed. Now the vendors can brick your devices at will. Revolv did by turning off their cloud. Samsung and Verizon threatened to do  it with an over-the-air upgrade to the Galaxy 7.  Who’s next? The functioning of these Things on the Internet have become ephemeral.