Weird story about Google/Nest and Hardware bricking

"Google/Nest’s decision raises an interesting question. When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufacturer can intentionally disable it without consequence? Tony Fadell seems to believe the latter. Tony believes he has the right to reach into your home and pull the plug on your Nest products.

On May 15th, my house will stop working. My landscape lighting will stop turning on and off, my security lights will stop reacting to motion, and my home made vacation burglar deterrent will stop working. This is a conscious intentional decision by Google/Nest.

To be clear, they are not simply ceasing to support the product, rather they are advising customers that on May 15th a container of hummus will actually be infinitely more useful than the Revolv hub.

Google is intentionally bricking hardware that I own. They don’t even dance around it, here is Revolv’s FAQ."
(the image above)

Please read full story here:
https://medium.com/@arlogilbert/the-time-that-tony-fadell-sold-me-a...

Views: 1176

Comment by benbojangles on April 9, 2016 at 2:04am

Also, if anyone remembers, remote disabling was/is used on GM OnStar vehicle systems. It's a troubling thought for automated vehicles. On the one side, it is a tool for law enforcement to capture criminals, on another side it is removing the 'ownership' of a product by individuals. Microsoft also want this feature in their operating systems, FTDI tried to remotely 'brick' unauthorised devices, and of course, DJI have this capability in their 'no fly zones' system. The tragedy that was the Zano drone, if you remember, also had the plan to bind all of it's tiny (failed) quadcopters to a central server, once that server is down, all drones are down too.

My advice, is to be either REALLY clever and learn to hack software, or be knowledgeable to which product you buy.

Comment by Jason K on April 9, 2016 at 6:05am

Go to their FAQ and just beside that it says they will refund the purchase price of the device - something that really should be mentioned in the post above. I agree people's homes may have come to depend on the system and it may be a pain to replace this, but it is worth mentioning that they're not rendering your purchase completely worthless - they're refunding it.

"If you're a current Revolv customer, please email us at help@revolv.com so we can help you out during this transition and provide you with a refund for the purchase price of your Revolv hub."


Developer
Comment by John Arne Birkeland on April 9, 2016 at 6:10am

Centralized/cloud services are great and offer convenience when they work, but disastrous when they fail. And even worse when the supplier goes under or stops supporting a device.

Companies have been pushing hard for this type of technology, where the consumers are forced to 'rent' services and unable to pay once and get a fully working stand alone product. Some even force you to first pay for the product, and then demand rent for functionality afterwards..

The list grows larger every day. Games of steam being one of the pioneers, and Windows 10 / Office 360 some of the latest big examples.

Comment by Foxzilla on April 9, 2016 at 7:26am

I can't figure out from the information provided whether they are simply shutting down the cloud services or actually making changes to the hardware (which is how I understand "bricking"). Anyway, this is why I always check that all my automation hardware works locally without cloud services.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on April 9, 2016 at 8:31am

This is actually a very strong argument for Open Source Software.  The users are shielded from having a useless product after the vendor decides to stop supporting it.

Yes John, I'm seeing the march in this direction across the board.  It's happening with everything.  Real-estate is so expensive nobody can afford to buy.  You are just renting from the bank.  Cars, you don't own.  It's just an extended service contract. In the 80's, governments created "right to repair" legislation which is why OBD standards were created.  The manufacturers could not enslave you to their service departments, OBD mandated we could all buy universal code readers at Walmart for $50.  But then the manufacturers put computer in charge of the transmission, then all body functions, security and entertainment systems.  Regulations did not keep pace, and now the engine computer is the ONLY one that you can service yourself.

It's really all a return to serfdom.

Comment by Nikola Rabchevsky on April 9, 2016 at 8:36am

The takeaway here is that most people don't realize how little they own and how much they rent.  You're licensing lots of products these days.  They aren't yours to do with as you please.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on April 9, 2016 at 8:38am

Oh, and it's a good place to remind people DJI have already remote-killed systems.  DJI Ace One Waypoint died when they killed the PC GCS.

Comment by Alexey Dobrovolskiy on April 9, 2016 at 1:17pm
UgCS supports DJI Ace :-)
Comment by Paul Bealing on April 9, 2016 at 5:02pm

It's a pity that the emphasis has gone away from stand-alone and towards APPs and connected services. Manufacturers want to tie your hardware to their systems for information collection and/or ongoing revenue, at least until they decide they've had enough. If you buy any hardware that relies on a connection to somewhere else, an APP or proprietary control software it will eventually become unusable.

Back in the early 80s when I started work the most difficult part of configuring something was getting the serial cable and terminal settings working. That gear is still usable today. But now we see more interest in color GUIs, touch screens and connecting to a cloud service for added benefits, than "how long will it last".

APPs are great for ordering pizza or finding your way, but to expect an APP to still be controlling your home automation system in 5 or more years is possibly a bit optimistic. It's not just a problem with APPs and cloud services. I've had some dealings with built-in home automation since the late 90s. Talking to a home automation installer recently, they have replaced some big-name proprietary wired-in systems because parts and support are no longer available. A huge expense for the home owner who never thought that their built-in control system would last about as long as the battery in the HVAC remote.

Comment by Chris on April 10, 2016 at 4:17pm

In the early days we used a centralized model (mainframes and dumb terminals) then we switched to distributed model and now back to a hybrid where we run smart terminals but the heavy lifting is centralized.  I would not be surprised if in 5 to 10 years companies realised the PR nightmare of turning stuff off will be.  It's okay for smaller players who close up and don't need to continue business, however for the larger players they will start to take major PR hits as they phase out older non profitable systems (as angry customers tend to be vocal ones, happy ones generally dont comment).

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