08 Mar 2016
Recently early adopters of smart home apps such as Hive and Nest have had to deal with uncontrolled temperature changes, as bugs in the apps caused dramatic highs and lows.
While the problems were only temporary and according to British Gas, easily fixed, the incidents raise a question around the long term implications of technical errors when it comes to the Internet of Things.
With smart homes becoming a reality for more consumers, the safety and regulatory issues surrounding them are becoming more pressing. To date discussions (at least publicly) have focused on the safety and insurance implications for self-driving cars. But what about other consumer items connected through the Internet of Things?
Imagine your heating is controlled remotely through an app, or set to adjust automatically based on outside temperatures - in theory this could help reduce insurance premiums when you're away from home by reducing the chances of burst pipes in the winter.
Previously consumers would be liable for any damage that was caused by human error (i.e. forgetting to leave your central heating on during periods of absence in cold spells). But if your house is connected through the IoT, who (or what) would be considered responsible if damage was caused due to a technical error?
The insurance industry is going to need a radical digital transformation if it is going to keep up with technological advances and the increasingly connected consumer. It will be interesting to see if it is able to adapt and take a leading role in regulating IoT, or if challengers from the tech sector will take over.
Hive, which is run by British Gas, has received over 30 complaints in recent months it was reported on Saturday, with many people fearing an unsightly spike in their bills. The company has not yet confirmed exactly how many of its 300,000 users may have been affected, although they have said that the bug is now fixed. By contrast, rival smart service Nest gave its customers the cold shoulder last month, with an unconfirmed number of people waking up to an unexpected chill. Read more