During summer, the occurrence of this phenomenon wouldn’t have been that much of a disaster. But given the fact that we are currently in the cold season, some people were left in a rather chilly state because Nest Labs thermostats got disabled due to a software glitch. This effectively shut down any connection between the device and you heating or air conditioning systems and appliances.
This was all based on a recent software update made available during the month of December. The glitch itself made the thermostats’ battery run out at a fast rate, eventually shutting it down. This occurred even if the device was plugged in.
Although the company posted instructions to revive the device as soon as possible, some people that were on holiday or couldn’t reach their home in time did not possess the capability of fixing the thermostat. Depending on the region consumers resided in, this phenomenon led some homes to suffer from freezing pipes due to cold, increased humidity which could lead to the onset of mold, or distressed pets due to higher than normal temperatures.
The company may have posted on their support forums 9 steps in order to fix the problem, but most users encountered a too cold or too hot home while sleeping or were simply not home. Fortunately, the company has stated that the issue has been 99.5% fixed.
This is not the first problem faced by Nest Labs since it was acquired by the Alphabet company. Their smoke and carbon monoxide detecting devices suffered from some rather hefty bugs and safety issues as well, forcing the company to pull them completely off the market.
Because of this, the general public might think again before adopting Internet of Things related products. One can easily imagine how, for instance, a smart refrigerator can simply power down, leaving your food to spoil, if this type of software glitch surfaces. But given the fact that IoT has slowly picked up momentum over the past months, with more and more users opting to connect all of their devices to a single hub, this thermostat-related event will not impact consumer behavior by an extensive amount.
But this would have changed if thermostats or similar devices malfunctioned when an elderly patient or an infant was in the room. Nest Labs would have faced some rather grim lawsuits if this glitch would have provided a beneficial environment for a worst case scenario to surface, for instance, the death of a person due to excessive cold or heat.
Fortunately, even if Nest Labs thermostats got disabled due to a software glitch, the problem has been almost completely fixed, according to the company. But this will still mark the inception of the idea that having all of your smart devices and appliances interconnected through IoT is not really that safe.