As easy as it is to hate computers, every so often I like to look around and remind myself that we’re living in The Future. Technology that is fairly routine today seemed so impossible when I was a kid. It’s not slowing down, either. Consumer technology, in particular the “connected home”, is making great advancements. But with great functionality comes great headaches. There are any number of reasons to be concerned about the rise of the machines, but here’s one.
If you’re one of the (apparently few) people who bought a Revolv hub, you probably wanted to make your life easier. The ability to control your lights, thermostat, etc from a smartphone is incredibly appealing. But come June 19, you can’t. Alphabet’s Nest bought Revolv back in October 2014 and has decided to shut down the service. It’s not just that the hubs will be unsupported, they will essentially become hummus-container-shaped paperweights.
Despite my hatred for computers, I actually like technology in general and I really like having fun new toys to play with. Even so, I have a hard time talking myself into purchases where I don’t really own what I own. I understand if a company decides that keeping a central service running for an unused or outdated product is no longer viable, but I’d still like to be able to play with it in standalone mode.
I have friends who strongly distrust relying on locked-in external services. If they can’t host it themselves (or at least have it hosted by a third party where they can freely move should the need arise), they don’t use it. I sympathize with that position, but I tend to take a more practical approach. There are a lot of things I let other people do — either in exchange for payment or in exchange for serving me ads — that I could do myself. I’d just rather spend my time and energy elsewhere.
A smart home system that is self-contained appeals to me greatly. I’d love to be able to go away during the winter and leave my thermostat at “just don’t let the pipes freeze, okay?” but when I get an hour from home, have the furnace fire back up. If that system requires the vendor to decide to keep their servers on, I’m not really interested (without even considering privacy and security implications). The “*aaS-ification” of technology offers great benefits to those who cannot implement technology solutions for themselves, but it also creates great risk.