Update gone wrong leaves 500 smart locks inoperable

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Fatal error leaves customers scrambling for fixes that can take a week or longer.

The incident is the latest reminder that the so-called Internet of Things—in which locks, thermostats, and other everyday appliances are embedded with small Internet-connected computers—often provide as many annoyances as they do conveniences. Over the past week, the Colorado-based company’s Twitter feed has been gorged with comments from customers who were suddenly unable to lock or unlock their doors normally. Complicating the matter: the affected LockState model—the RemoteLock 6i—is included in an Airbnb partnership called Host Assist. That left many hosts unable to remotely control their locks.

@vrma 2 days later, still no follow up from John Cargile as promised, locks still down.

— Doug Miracle (@DougMiracle_) August 11, 2017

Are you a stranded @Airbnb guest? @LockState just BRICKED a bunch of 6i locks. But they won’t tweet updates. Trying to hide their screw-up?

— Juniper (@JuniperWyoming) August 7, 2017

The failure occurred last Monday when LockState mistakenly sent some 6i lock models a firmware update developed for 7i locks. The update left earlier 6i models unable to be locked and no longer able to receive over-the-air updates. LockState Marketing Manager John Cargile told Ars that the failure hit about 500 locks. The company is offering affected customers one of two options: (1) return the back portion of the lock to LockState so the firmware can be updated, with a turnaround time of about five to seven days, or (2) request a replacement interior lock, with a turnaround time of about 14 to 18 days. In the meantime, customers can use a physical key to unlock doors. (Like most hotel rooms, the doors automatically lock each time they’re closed.)

Cargile said the company has already resolved the problem for about 85 percent of affected customers.