Insteon Kills Servers Without Warning, Bricks Smart Home Devices

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Adding a few smart home gadgets can help automate your daily life in useful ways, but they’re not as foolproof as a good old-fashioned light switch. People who have invested in Insteon’s smart home gear are learning it the hard way today, as the company apparently killed its cloud service without warning. With the shutdown of servers, the company’s smart switches, sensors and plugs lost all their intelligence.

Insteon, which is a subsidiary of Smartlabs, is old by smart home company standards, launching its first products in 2005. It has made big promises about its proprietary “dual mesh” communications protocol, which uses a combination wireless signals. and the electrical network. Apparently, this made the devices more reliable than those connected via Wi-Fi. While there were connections to services like Alexa and Assistant, users needed an Insteon hub to communicate with the company’s servers. . It’s a problem now that the servers seem to be offline.

Users started reporting issues earlier this month, and the company disabled its support forums around the same time. However, the business status page still claims that all services are online. It may be because no one is around to change the status anymore. Company management appears to have checked – the LinkedIn profiles of Insteon executives either indicate that they have left the company or have simply been scrubbed of any mention of Insteon.

It’s not true.

Many Insteon customers have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on the company’s products, and they probably regret it now. Some Insteon smart switches will work like a traditional light switch, but the bulk of its products are now bricked-in. Dependence on cloud services is the Achilles heel of today’s smart home ecosystem – when a company leaves, the hardware you own can suddenly become useless. Insteon isn’t the first smart home platform to go missing, but we usually get a warning. Replacing smart home devices due to utility shutdowns will always be a pain, but Insteon customers didn’t even know their smart homes were going to stop working until it happened.

Those affected by the unexpected shutdown have limited options. They could just replace all of their Insteon products with dumb hardware or devices for another smart home platform. But having been burned like this, relying on another cloud service may seem too risky. Insteon was originally designed as a locally managed system, which means users can regain some of the lost functionality by adding an open-source platform like Home Assistant, provided they’re willing to tinker. It’s a bad situation, but it’s inevitable that some of these companies will go out of business. We can only hope that the next to bite the dust does so more responsibly than Insteon.

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