Rogue 'Smart' Ovens Again Highlight How Dumb Tech Is Often The Smarter Choice

from the I'm-sorry-I-can't-do-that,-Dave dept

If you hadn’t noticed by now, in the IOT era, sometimes dumb technology is the smarter option. Given that privacy and security are usually afterthoughts for many vendors, we now live in an age where your Barbie can be hacked and used to spy on your kids, your refrigerator can be hacked to gain access to your Gmail account, your smart tea kettle can provide a nice attack vector on your home network, and your “smart” television watches you every bit as often as you watch it. This wasn’t the future the Jetsons promised.

Enter the June oven, a “smart” oven that originally launched in 2015 with a $1500 countertop variant that used a camera and “computer vision” to know what was being cooked. The company then launched a $600 version in 2018 that integrates an oven, an air fryer, dehydrator, slow cooker, broiler, toaster, warming drawer, and convection countertop oven. Which might all be fairly impressive if the oven didn’t have a weird habit of turning itself on in the middle of the night:

“The first documented overnight preheat occurred in May. A group member wrote that he roasted potatoes around 5PM one night and left them to cool in the oven. He apparently forgot to take them out. The next morning, he awoke to find that the oven had turned on at 1:20AM and baked at 425 degrees for four hours and 32 minutes. The potatoes, which were still in the oven, burned to a crisp. ?Had I not left the potatoes overnight, I may have not realized it had turned on in the night,? he wrote.”

The future is decidedly more Terry Gilliam than Star Trek.

In response, June’s CEO decided that the best path forward was to blame owners for the problem:

“June CEO Matt Van Horn says that owners, not the oven, are at fault. ?We?ve seen a few cases where customers have accidentally activated their oven preheat via a device, figure your cell phone,? he tells The Verge. ?So imagine if I were to be in the June app clicking recipes and I accidentally tapped something that preheated my oven, we?ve seen a few cases of that.?

While there’s certainly an element of human error here, if you can accidentally preheat your oven with your ass, we’re talking about design issues. Other customers say their ovens began cooking nonexistent food in the middle of the night due to things like Alexa misunderstanding smart home commands. And while June says that it will try and implement tech that prevents the oven from staying on if there’s no food inside, this complicated tap dance only really advertises how sometimes the dumber tech we already have is perfectly fine.

Ovens preheat in minutes and it often requires a single button press (or three). If you’re going to improve upon basic ideas, you probably want to make sure your internet-connected devices don’t inadvertently make the technology more annoying than ever.

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Companies: june

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Comments on “Rogue 'Smart' Ovens Again Highlight How Dumb Tech Is Often The Smarter Choice”

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41 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Ovens preheat in minutes and it often requires a single button press (or three).

Or even more if you use an app. Besides which, if you have to go to the oven to switch it on, you can check that there is nothing in there that you do not want to cook, especially in a household with young children who can put all sorts of things into places they do not belong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Another dumb thing oven manufacturers have done is to add "hidden bake elements", i.e., to move the heating element into a separate small compartment. This has two effects:
1) Instead of preheating in minutes, you’ll now need tens of minutes for enough heat to get into the main compartment.
2) The heater compartment gets so hot that it tends to burn out the element. (Bonus: it’s much harder to change!)

If you don’t want to be accused of fixing something that’s not broken, go break something.

Whoever says:

Re: Re: Re:

2) The heater compartment gets so hot that it tends to burn out the element.

In the UK, the heater elements (for baking, not grilling) have been hidden for a long time. On the other hand, before moving to the USA, I had never heard of an element burning out, so I am going to put that effect down to cheap crap being sold to US consumers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Worse. You have to worry that poor internet security will allow some rando on the internet to accidentally (or intentionally) turn your oven on.

Maybe the way to get this fixed is to hype up the terrorist threat and point out that someone could use this to bring down power grids. They’re not meant to handle a million ovens turning on at exactly the same time. (Of course, in reality it will be some bored kid playing a prank.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I doubt that turning on all ovens will bring down a pwr grid. If there is an overload condition then a brownout would occur first followed by systematic shutdowns. Calf has a lot of brownouts when all the air conditioners turn on at (sort of) the same time, and an electric motor has a much higher inrush current than does a heating element.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I doubt that turning on all ovens will bring down a pwr grid.

Maybe not. The UK deals with everyone turning kettles on at the same time. But everyone flying in the US has to take their shoes off, and only have liquids in tiny bottles, due to dubious failed plots. Reality doesn’t stand in the way of security paranoia.

MikeVx (profile) says:

Re: Unattended Cooking can be Dangerous

So according to these guys I should throw out my slow cooker and eat out most of the time.

The whole point of the slow cooker is so that I can cook large quantities of food with a minimum of interaction time with it. My routine is to load the cooker up, turn it on, then either go to bed, and things cook while I sleep, or go to work, and I have a nice hot dinner waiting when I get home and I can stuff the rest of the weeks meals into freezer bags either way.

I’m not a candidate for Master Chef. I resent the time it takes to pour cereal into a bowl. Being table to spend an hour on a weeks worth of food, then microwave it one meal at a time as needed is a wonderful thing. But to follow the advice of FDNY while using a slow cooker would mean hanging around the kitchen for eight to ten hours, thus defeating the whole purpose of having the thing.

On the tech angle, while my cooker uses digital tech, is has no connectivity other than a 120VAC cord. The interface is 3 buttons and 8 LEDs. No matter what I set it for, it will shut off after 14 hours.

Low tech by todays standards, but it works for me.

Yeah ... uh-huh, sure says:

"June CEO Matt Van Horn says that owners, not the oven, are at f

“We’ve seen a few cases where customers have accidentally activated their oven preheat via a device "

As if the customer is the only one with said capability because no one else has any devices that could be configured to access the oven control mechanism.

Ed (profile) says:

Why doesn't it use a check prompt?

My oven can be controlled remotely. I find it very convenient to be able to remotely preheat it, or check the status, get notified that it has preheated to my requested temperature, or the timer status, etc. However, before it can be turned on remotely, I have to physically enable it by touching a "Remote Enable" key on the oven’s keypad. This must be done every time, as once it turns on (or the door opens), the function is disabled. So, if I know I want to be able to turn it on remotely in the near future, I can enable it. Now, should I forget and leave it on, I can check the status remotely and turn it off anytime. This is how you do it correctly.

nerdrage (profile) says:

IoT is a disaster waiting to happen. Who’s minding the store? The government doesn’t regulate worth shit, corporations are only interested in short-term profits and consumers don’t understand the risks or how to change a password. I’m staying far away from this cluster. It’s only a matter of time before IoT causes some serious catastrophe.

Consumer electronics that need the internet aside, my appliances are going be staying like they are now: dumber than the President. That’s my gold standard. I don’t need lightbulbs or refrigerators to be connected to anything but a power source.

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