Smart home company Insteon appears to have died silently, leaving customers in the dark
One of the biggest fears you can have when you start investing in smart home gadgets (outside of privacy concerns) is, “what if the brand I have chosen ceases to be supported or closes?” For Insteon customers, it’s a fear playing out right now as they experience their third day of service outages. There’s been no official word yet, but things don’t look good: the company’s forums are down and executives (including the chairman and president of Insteon’s parent company) are taking their distances with the company. To all appearances, Insteon is dead.
Many of our readers may not be familiar with the name Insteon, but it is a smart home company that enjoyed early popularity for its expandability, speed of operation and automation tools, with many early adopters have invested in it quite deeply. The company offered the basics like smart switches, outlets, sensors, and remotes, but it also had a complex ecosystem of additional gadgets like computer interfaces, range extenders, and built-in devices that could be used in many new and personalized ways. Its products worked with the Google Assistant and were an early adopter of Apple’s HomeKit.
Insteon uses a hub-based system that communicates via a proprietary 900 MHz protocol paired with wired powerline-based data transmission, with each device acting as a repeater for a large mesh-based smart home system. Despite being integrated with many other services, Insteon has never used the more universal smart home standards that have since taken off, and the rise of Matter may ultimately prove to be one of many nails in his coffin.
Various Insteon products, including keyboards and remotes that were popular for triggering “scene” automations.
Customer reports indicate that Insteon’s services have been down for about three days, interfering with some automations, digital assistant integrations, and even basic app-based remote control in many cases. As Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo pointed out, the protocols used by Insteon were reverse-engineered, and customers have some recourse in the form of Home Assistant and OpenHab to fill the void, but it takes a bit of work on their part. In at least Home Assistant’s case, customers are further warned: “Do not factory reset your device under any circumstances, as it will not be recoverable.” A remote connection to Insteon’s servers is apparently required for the installation to complete successfully.
Stacey Higginbotham of Stacey On IOT pointed out a few days ago that Rob Lileness, chairman and president of parent company Smartlabs, has removed references to Insteon and Smartlabs from his LinkedIn profile, and various other executives associated with the company now list their positions as having ended or similarly exclude Insteon from their employment history. Higginbotham also noted that a phone number associated with the company no longer appears to be connecting and no one at Insteon appears to be responding to inquiries. Android Police also contacted Insteon for more information, but there was no immediate response.
There have been reports that certain types of Insteon hubs can still work reliably even if the company’s servers stop responding, and customers on the /r/insteon subreddit have been discussing different solutions and workarounds for their issues. – if you are one of the data subjects. , it might be worth a look.
There’s been no official word from the company yet, though customers have paid hundreds to thousands of dollars for the hardware and certainly deserve an explanation. Frankly, it’s unclear if the company still exists in some kind of hot office bodies. To all outward appearances and given the apparent disinterest after days of outages, Insteon has either decided to take a wink or it’s just plain dead, much to the chagrin of owners and the amusement of smart home critics. . (More like Instedisabledfriendship?)
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