IoT garage opener now more open, a year after customer firestorm

Enlarge / You can now own one of these and not have it be turned into a useless piece of electronics if the person supporting it goes away. (credit: Garadget)

Last April, Ars reported the curious incident of an Internet-of-Things garage door opener creator who responded to negative reviews and complaints from one customer by shutting down the customer’s account—and in the process, rendering the product unusable. Now, Garadget founder Denis Grisak claims to have reformed his ways, saying he’s opening up the firmware of his company’s eponymous device to allow customers to connect it to the home automation software of their choice, rather than having to rely on Garadget’s own cloud-based service.

Garadget, originally an Indiegogo crowdfunded effort, used an Internet-connected device controller from Particle (the Wi-Fi connected Proton) to provide remote control of garage doors through a smart phone application. The device works with existing garage door openers, essentially functioning as an Internet-connected “button”—allowing owners to remotely open or close their garage doors at a distance via a cloud service. Largely a one-person operation, Garadget has sold about 5,000 devices, Grisak told Ars this week. About 3,000 of those are still active.

But some customers had difficulty getting the mobile application configured, and one took his complaints to Garadget’s community message board and then to Amazon—leaving a scathing one-star review of the product. Grisak (who was handling technical support himself) responded to what he perceived as abuse from the customer by revoking the customer’s key to the cloud service—essentially “bricking” the device by blocking its communications.

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