by BN Frank, Activist Post:
Over the years, there have been countless warnings by privacy and security experts about “Smart” home appliances. The media has reported many horrifying incidents. This still hasn’t stopped people from wanting to buy these products and install them in their homes.
Since last fall, there has been much focus on Amazon automatically opting in all customers’ home devices into their Sidewalk program. In the meantime, Samsung has been dismantling its SmartThings Ecosystem.
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From Ars Technica:
Samsung will shut down the v1 SmartThings hub this month
Samsung is killing the OG hub, along with most of the original appeal of SmartThings.
Samsung has spent the last year or so upending its SmartThings ecosystem. SmartThings was born as an independent company in 2012 when it launched one of the largest Kickstarter campaigns ever: a $1.2 million funding program for the company’s first smart home hub. Samsung bought SmartThings in 2014, and in June 2020, the Korean giant announced a plan that would basically shut down all of the stuff it acquired, forcing everyone over to in-house Samsung infrastructure. A big part of that plan is happening at the end of the month, when Samsung will kill the first-generation SmartThings Hub.
The SmartThings Hub is basically a Wi-Fi access point—but for your smart home stuff instead of your phones and laptops. Instead of Wi-Fi, SmartThings is the access point for a Zigbee and Z-Wave network, two ultra low-power mesh networks used by smart home devices. Wi-Fi is great for loading webpages and videos, but it’s extreme overkill for something like turning on a light switch or working a door sensor; these things need to just send a few bits for “on or off” or “open or closed.” Zigbee and Z-Wave are so low-power that you can run the devices on AA or coin cell batteries for months. The Hub connects your smart home network to the Internet, giving you access to a control app and connecting to other services like your favorite voice assistant.
You might think that killing the old Hub could be a ploy to sell more hardware, but Samsung—a hardware company—is actually no longer interested in making SmartThings hardware. The company passed manufacturing for the latest “SmartThings Hub (v3)” to German Internet-of-things company Aeotec. The new Hub is normally $125, but Samsung is offering existing users a dirt-cheat $35 upgrade price.
For users who have to buy a new hub, migrating between hubs in the SmartThings ecosystem is a nightmare. Samsung doesn’t provide any kind of migration program, so you have to unpair every single individual smart device from your old hub to pair it to the new one. This means you’ll need to perform some kind of task on every light switch, bulb, outlet, and sensor, and you’ll have to do the same for any other smart thing you’ve bought over the years. Doing this on each device is a hassle that usually involves finding the manual to look up the secret “exclusion” input, which is often some arcane Konami code. Picture holding the top button on a paddle light for seven seconds until a status light starts blinking and then opening up the SmartThings app to unpair it.
Samsung is also killing the “SmartThings Link for Nvidia Shield” dongle, which let users turn Android TV devices into SmartThings Hubs. We’re in phase two of Samsung’s SmartThings armageddon now.
“Smart” home appliances operate via Bluetooth and WiFi. Research has determined that exposure to these sources of electromagnetic radiation (and others) is biologically harmful. American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical experts continue to warn that children are more vulnerable to it. Pets are affected by exposure too. For many years telecom companies have been warning investors – but not the public – about liability risks from exposure to their products and infrastructure (see 1, 2). Perhaps Samsung has become concerned about liability risks from radiation emitting products as well.