A dangerous precedent may be in motion for manufacturers of IoT devices.

On May 15, Nest, the company (currently owned by Alphabet) behind the Nest Learning Thermostat, will discontinue support for their Revolv M1 Smart Home hub.

This termination raises ethical questions concerning disabling services for IoT devices.

The Revolv M1 is used to unify and automate smart IoT devices that can be controlled via a single app on your phone.

Without a hub, smart devices are commonly controlled by their device-specific software thus making it more difficult to manage smart IoT devices in unison.

Under normal circumstances, “discontinue support” implies that the manufacturer or developer will cease to produce updates and patches, or in the case of hardware, discontinue manufacture of parts. Believe me, Chepri® offers much better support plans.

In this case however, “discontinue support” means turning it off.

The Revolv M1 relies on remote servers controlled by Nest. The device sends data from your home to the Nest servers, and the Nest servers feed the data into the Revolv app on your phone.

Nest intends to turn off these servers thus turning a once $300 device into a worthless plastic shell.

To add fuel to the fire, Nest is not offering a way for users to run the device off of their own server or allowing a third party a way to create their own service to support the current owners of the IoT devices.

In fact, without Nest’s blessing and support in allowing users to create their own servers, users who do so would potentially be in violation of the DMCA.

May 15 was chosen for obsolescence because that is the date that the last of the Revolv M1 IoT devices sold will be out of warranty.

Technically speaking, Nest is adhering to its contract with its customers stating that they will support these IoT devices through their warranty periods, however some have stated that upon purchase “lifetime subscription” was a selling point.

This begs a larger question:

Is it ethical for a manufacturer of IoT devices to disable the service that allows a product to function?

Or, are we as consumers too short-sighted to realize the risks of adopting connected devices?

This action is setting a dangerous precedent for other manufactures of IoT devices.

Self-driving cars rely on data from remote servers to navigate, and certain medical devices require a connection to servers that parse and calculate readings in real-time.

Without an alternative method for these devices to function, the ramifications of the supporting service being shut down are immense, both monetarily and potentially physically.

There are always risks in both developing new technology and adopting new technology and I’m certainly not advocating people stop buying or investing in new tech.

The tech industry, and any industry for that matter, requires failures in order to improve.

Every new success is built off of a previous failure and I have no doubt that the lessons learned from this event will have a profound impact on connected IoT devices in the future.