How long will the lights stay on?

This week saw the collapse of Pebble. After a successful kickstarter a few years ago, Pebble was a big player in the start of the smart watch movement, and they went on to general success. But they’ve now stopped production of their products, and a number of their assets have been sold off to FitBit. The details behind the closing of Pebble aren’t of particular interest to us, and nor is a smart watch per se, but what is interesting is that Pebble ran several cloud services to support their products functioning.

Fortunately FitBit has agreed to keep these services running for the time being, but for how long? Hackaday covered this topic several months ago when several smart home products sold by Greenwave Systems stopped working. The server they communicated with was shut down.

Now while we value a product’s ability to function when the internet is down, and many services offer an ‘offline’ mode, they all require internet to set them up and maintain them. All the big brands’ (Philips, Wink, GE, Osram, Nest) products interact through an online server. Now with big brands one doesn’t expect too many problems. As long as it is still profitable for the companies to sell the products, they’ll maintain their online services. But there’s no assurance.

It’s understandable why the companies have these online services. It makes updating their systems, and offering away from home control, infinitely easier. But isn’t there place for a completely offline system? One where we don’t have to worry about the future?


Zoe, seems like it’s trying to achieve some of that, even including some Alexa like features. Originally due now in December 2016, they met some unforeseen circumstances, and have postponed it indefinitely. Would be nice to see some more products like this in the future.