Insteon, a home automation company owned by Smartlabs Inc., has reportedly gone out of business after users reported that their connected devices stopped working last week.
There has been no official word from the company that it has ceased operating and as of the time of writing its website is up and its status page claims that all services are online. Stacey on IoT reported Saturday that customers who have been trying to contact the company since Friday have not heard back from it. Insteon/Smartlabs executives have either scrubbed references on LinkedIn to working at the company or say that their positions have now ended.
Insteon was founded in 2005 and offered a range of home automation hardware and software. The company’s devices included intelligent light switches, lights, thermostats, motion sensors and other electrical devices. Insteon’s smart devices connected through power lines or radio frequency.
The company’s devices were pitched as easy to install without any expertise or automation background. The devices worked with smartphones, tablets and computers, as well as offering support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Insteon was also one of two smart-home hub manufacturers to support Apple Inc.’s HomeKit when it launched in 2015.
The parent company Smartlabs Inc. had the same executives as Insteon and, along with offering Insteon equipment, also held a license with Nokia to use the name “Nokia Smart Lighting.” Smartlabs was acquired by Richmond Capital Partners in 2017, although it’s not entirely clear whether the firm owns Smartlabs today: Crunchbase lists Smartlabs as both an acquisition and an exit for the firm.
The company never reached great heights of popularity despite being in business for 12 years, but it did have a sizable user base. How big is not clear but at least thousands of customers are left with smart home equipment that does not work as designed.
The case highlights consumers’ risk when relying on a company to provide services to support smart home or connected devices. Since the devices rely on an outside connection, when the company is no longer in business or drops support, the devices often become unusable.
For Insteon users, however, there is an alternative. According to Ars Technica, Insteon’s protocol has been reverse-engineered, so it’s possible to control the devices locally without the app. It’s also possible to pipe local control to another platform’s hub controller.