Hundreds of Internet-connected locks became inoperable last week after a faulty software update caused them to experience a fatal system error, manufacturer LockState said.
The incident is the latest reminder that the so-called Internet of Things—in which locks, thermostats, and other everyday appliances are embedded with small Internet-connected computers—often provide as many annoyances as they do conveniences. Over the past week, the Colorado-based company's Twitter feed has been gorged with comments from customers who were suddenly unable to lock or unlock their doors normally. Complicating the matter: the affected LockState model—the RemoteLock 6i—is included in an Airbnb partnership called Host Assist. That left many hosts unable to remotely control their locks.
The failure occurred last Monday when LockState mistakenly sent some 6i lock models a firmware update developed for 7i locks. The update left earlier 6i models unable to be locked and no longer able to receive over-the-air updates. LockState Marketing Manager John Cargile told Ars that the failure hit about 500 locks. The company is offering affected customers one of two options: (1) return the back portion of the lock to LockState so the firmware can be updated, with a turnaround time of about five to seven days, or (2) request a replacement interior lock, with a turnaround time of about 14 to 18 days. In the meantime, customers can use a physical key to unlock doors. (Like most hotel rooms, the doors automatically lock each time they're closed.)
I'm overstating the case a bit, since owners do have a physical key, but it sounds like a complete pain in the ass, especially because the system comes with automatically locking doors. Between "smart" refrigerators and baby cams that can be hacked and used as spy devices by third parties, power outages and just the unreliability of electrical devices in general, I personally wouldn't spend a dime extra for a "smart home". My iPhone crashed recently when I attempted to upgrade to a new version of Apple's IOS, and I was cut off from the world for five days. That's the price I pay for becoming so dependent on the "Internet of things", but I'm in no rush to increase that dependency.