January 21, 2016

Nest Woes and the Importance of QA

Disclaimer: I imported this post from WordPress to Jekyll on 9/2/23. Forgive the misformatting until I get a chance to clean it up.

I rolled out of bed the other morning at a quarter to 6 am to find a chilling surprise. Thankfully, we live in the South, but it is still a cold week here (20°s and 30°s Fahrenheit). Our Nest Thermostat set its temperature to 59°F at a time when we had scheduled it for 69°F. When an IoT (first and last time I will use the buzzword in this post) device fails, its effects are often immediately noticed. Quality assurance (QA) is imperative if the “smart home” revolution is to come finally to fruition.

Let me start by acknowledging that we used the Nest Thermostat and Protect for over a year with no major issues. This tenured success is both an affirmation of decent hardware and software, but also a confirmation the Nest team did not perform proper testing before their major software release in December. I will also say that my personal evaluation of Nest’s customer service is a 4 out of 5. That is a pretty solid rating, but they are not among the elite few companies nailing it (i.e., Buffer). Find below a timeline of our Nest experience.

The Bugs

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. — T. Bert Lance

Wrapping Up

QA is something I have become quite familiar with over the past year. I have spent the majority of my tenure at thyssenkrupp Elevator developing unit test scripts for our elevator dispatching algorithms. In systems with vast quantities of variables and life or death repercussions, creating unit tests can be tough. If you are a manufacturer of a device as important as even a thermostat, and the current version of the software works, you better be real sure the hot new update you are about to push is rock solid.

I do not intend for this to be a Nest-bashing post. I love the products when they work, and Tony’s team has made huge waves in the push towards a smarter home. I just think that it is important to note that as our light bulbs, Crock-Pots®, and refrigerators all come online shortly, the software behind them better be rock solid. People can put up with a traditional computer malfunctioning from time to time, but if they are locked out of their home because their door lock is not connecting to Bluetooth correctly, the outrage will undoubtedly ensue.

1Comedic Note: To the graphic designer at The New York Times, could you not find an image of the Nest where its current temperature was cold enough for ice? Referenced Graphic.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.