Last month, I wrote an article describing real world issues that can occur when “smart devices” go wrong. Today a story came out about Nest’s smart smoke detector having a critical defect that puts its customers in harm’s way. Nest pro-actively stopped selling its carbon monoxide and smoke detector. Apparently in some cases waving your hands can disable the device completely, which was an issue raised by a consumer. All technology, especially new technology can be expected to have its bugs. When you put your life in the care of technology devices, simplicity and redundancy should be your priority, not controlling it with an iPhone.
I had a bad run-in with Nest a couple of years ago that I wrote about where it cost me almost $500 in AC repairs. After raising the issue to Nest, customer service did not ask for the defective device back. So while there is an irony of this story coming out in less than a month from my article describing my headache, it is good to see Nest being held accountable for a device intended to protect and save lives (carbon monoxide and smoke detection).
For me as a technologist, “Internet of Things” and interconnected smart devices is a future that I am truly excited about. I am not much of a tech-gadget person, but the information derived from smart devices and how it can enrich our lives, save resources, and ultimately money is fascinating to me. Anything that can be digital will be, and anything that is digital will eventually connect to the internet.
Nest’s small stumble in elegant smart devices is a warning shot to consumers and producers of devices intended to protect people. The trust we put in devices and the creators are a little scary when you really think about it.