Smart Pet Feeder Goes Offline with No Explanation, Enraging Users

The Internet of Things ecosystem is full of cool, interesting devices, and it even includes smart pet feeders that help pet owners to keep a close eye on their animals’ diets. What happens, though, when such devices need online connections to work and when the feeder’s backend no longer responds?

We’ve seen what happens when companies that build smart devices go out of business or drop support for older versions. People’s investments in intelligent scales or smart speakers disappear as old devices become dumber, or turn into paperweights.

Still, the damage can be measured in lost currency. But what happens when you go on a weekend-long holiday and leave food for your pets in the smart feeder? You’re confident because it has never failed you, but then service goes offline.

Fortunately, when the Petnet Gen2 smart feeder backend went offline for more than a week, no pets had to starve, but that could have easily been the case. According to a BBC report, numerous Petnet users reported that the devices stopped responding. Moreover, the company was not answering messages.

Following a week of silence, an official company Twitter account offered an update to users. “We are investigating a system outage that may affect customers using the SmartFeeder (2nd Gen). Scheduled automatic feeds will still dispense on at the desired time, although SmartFeeders will appear offline. Sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause.”

A few days later, the problem seems to have been fixed, although the company has yet to offer any explanation for the blackout. “System Update: SmartFeeders and App functionality have been restored. If you see a red ring, please power cycle your SmartFeeder by turning it off and on from the power switch.”

It leaves a question hanging in the air. Can you trust an IoT device to work at all times, with the same functionality? Especially one that’s vital to the survival of a living being.

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