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April 19, 2015

Bad software update kills many Wink smart home hubs

by John_A

Now for the downside of a house loaded up with “smart” devices to allow remote control and monitoring: turning your home into a computer means computer-like problems. Today’s example comes from the Wink Hub, a $50 device sold at Home Depot that’s supposed to simplify things by working across standards and link common home appliances (lights, thermostat, garage door, etc.) to your phone. That was the plan until yesterday when Wink sent out a software update that went wrong somehow, and now a number of users have a box “so secure that it is unable to connect to the Wink servers” (Wink’s words, not ours). The problem knocked all Wink hubs offline from 12:40PM to 11PM ET yesterday, and while the company says a “majority” of hubs were able to recover and reconnect, those that weren’t will need to be sent back.

[Thanks Larry, Steve & John]

For its part, Wink has sent an email out to affected owners asking them to return their hubs and wait for a replacement, and is offering a $50 off Wink store voucher for the trouble. It initially sent out a coupon code, but disabled that one and promises individual codes for owners within 24 hours of submitting a return form (owners should call 844-WINK-APP for service). Unfortunately, as Wink user Chris Sewell posted on Google+, now affected owners are left questioning if they should stick with the company at all or switch to another (hopefully more reliable) platform — despite the many cool aspects of smart home setups.

All the things many owners won’t be doing with a Wink hub right now

We’ve contacted the company for more information but have not heard back yet, although for now its status page has some info on what happened. By its reckoning, the problem was due to a security feature it implemented in the “the early days” and was a misconfiguration that was completely avoidable. It’s pulling all Wink devices from store shelves for now, saying that local stores will not have inventory “for some time.” Apparently turning into a spy and an addict isn’t the worst thing that can happen with a smart home.

You can see where things went wrong in real time via Twitter

Uh-oh

Filed under: Household

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Source: Wink

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