I recently took my first vacation in two years. It was fun! But I was excited to get home, raise my shades and relax in the finicky but sort of useful smart home I’d spent the past few months building. When I walked in the door, all of the automation was gone. The light on my Wink hub was yellow. This was not fun.
Buried in a week’s worth of emails, I found an email from Wink with the welcoming subject line “ACTION REQUIRED: Your Wink Hub Needs to Be Replaced.” In the body were these pretty laughable lines:
Your Wink Hub is now so secure that it is unable to connect to the Wink Servers. This means that you are no longer able to control your Hub-dependent devices with your Wink app. It also means your schedules and robots will not function.
So Wink made its software too secure and bricked its own hardware. Cool.
I got in touch with my contact at Quirky, which owns Wink, who informed my that “Wink Hubs experienced a service disruption” on April 18, the day that I left for vacation. The problem stemmed from “a security measure [Wink] implemented in the early days of the program.” (Wink includes more details on a bespoke website about the boondoggle.)
Again, I didn’t know anything was wrong until I got back to the United States. But I knew that Wink was buggy from day one—read my whole saga below—so I wasn’t surprised.
Wink told me that the outage affected about 25 percent of all users. About 10 percent of those users ended up with bricked Hubs. I’m one of them. Now, if I want my dumb smart home to come back from its braindead state, I have to mail the hub back to Wink. I haven’t yet decided if it’s worth the trip to the post office or not.