DRM; Or How To Make 30,000-Hour LED Bulbs 'Last' Only One Month

from the well,-our-nation's-landfills-were-looking-a-little-empty dept

Want to artificially decrease the lifespan of your product in order to keep your revenue stream intact? DRM's got your back, yo. It never asks, "Why?" It only asks, "Why not?"

Run out of refills on Proprietary Cat Waste Cleaning Product™ and a $200 luxury litter box becomes indiscernible from its $10 counterpart. Like generating a tremendous amount of waste along with your single cup of coffee? Hey, great, but your k-cup refill better be on brand or your expensive coffee maker will be about as active as the one you picked up from a garage sale for $2. Or less so, considering the second-hand one at least generated a funky burning smell before shorting out the kitchen wiring.

But this one tops both of those in what the installed DRM does to artificially shorten the lifespan of the product. (h/t Techdirt reader Kaden)

The IlluMask is a $30 "light therapy" mask that utilizes LED lights to zap away bacteria, stimulate skin cells and otherwise fight acne/aging (depending on what model you purchase.) Sounds great (if you buy IlluMask's claims). A lifetime of skin revitalization, and all for just $30. Oh, wait.

The trouble is, it is limited to 30 daily uses of 15 minutes each, totaling just 7 1/2 hours, effectively lasting you a month. At the end of which, you just discard the device and get a new one. That seems like a ridiculous waste of a perfectly fine, functional device whose LED’s can last at least 30,000 to 40,000 hours.
Even if we ignore the negative environmental impact of discarding plastic masks loaded with perfectly good LEDs, there's still the incredible audacity of IlluMask's claim that its mask will only last 30 days, at which point the LEDs doing all of the facial revitalization/bacteria zapping are suddenly useless, even with well over 99.97% of their lifespan still ahead of them (based on 35,000 hours).

IlluMask offers its own rationale for this completely fake 7.5-hour time limit, and it's about as credible as Keurig's "because safety" claims.
$1 per day. Simply put, 30-uses per mask is the best way for us to offer you high-performance light-therapy—typically available for a “high-performance” price—at $1 per day. We believe everyone should have access to modern technology—and we believe that technology should work. illuMask’s patented 30-use system makes it happen.
Really? It actually seems like it's the best way to ensure new purchases every day which, no matter how "affordable" it is, has nothing to do with telling people the LEDs in their masks are basically useless after delivering less than 8 hours of light on a 30-40,000 lifespan. I do, however, wholeheartedly believe this part of IlluMask's explantion is 100% true -- "...the best way for us..." -- because that's the only entity that truly benefits from treating long-lasting bulbs like disposable razor blades.

Those not paying attention to what IlluMask is actually doing -- creating a renewable market where one shouldn't logically exist -- will look at the company's chart comparing its $30/month product to more expensive options like dermatologists' treatments ($OMG!) and feel they're still getting a good deal. Others, like "Bebefuzz" of Lollipuff.com will find a way to route around IlluMask's arbitrary retirement date.

The good news is that circumventing IlluMask's internal 30-day kill switch is incredibly simple. If you like mucking about with a soldering iron, you can even add your own on/off switch (circumventing the DRM bricks the 15-minute timer). If you'd rather not deploy additional electronics and a soldering iron you likely don't already own, you can just do this:
1. Change the batteries if lights are getting dimmer.
2. Use a screwdriver and open the case. Then remove batteries and unscrew screws so the plastic battery holder on top of the circuit board can be moved over. Be careful NOT to damage any of the delicate wiring.
3. Now that the circuit board is exposed, put the batteries back in their slots.
4. Using a piece of wire (such as a paper clip) touch one end of your wire and place it where the thin copper wire connects to the circuit board (silver spot marked LED). Touch the other end to the little RESET copper circle--located on the left of the circuit board (use the copper circle above the word RESET, not below).
5. Press the start button while the wire is in place.
6. Move your wire from the RESET button to the TEST button.
7. Press the start button again while the wire is in place, and the count should reset to 30!
A paperclip and a screwdriver. Tools of circumvention that can be found in any home. Doing this likely voids any warranty on the product (and makes IlluMask supersad), but it's a product made to be disposable. Worst case scenario: another $30 spent and another try at soldering/paperclipping the product into something that lasts nearly as long as its components.

DRM: depriving you of 99.97% of your purchase's potential lifespan. That's hardly a tagline that will move more units, but the less consumers know, the better it is for companies like IlluMask.


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  • identicon
    Jake, 18 Mar 2015 @ 6:42am

    I'm slightly disappointed that you haven't addressed the important question of whether or not this thing actually works, which I'm pretty sure it doesn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:34am

      Re:

      Years ago, James Randi used to put out a weekly newsletter, in which he ripped apart the claims of all sorts of scam gadgets. I think this kind of "light therapy" device might have been one of them. Randi was also frequently sued, which might explain why Techdirt is not exactly calling bullshit on this.

      I think this is another one of those cases of highly exaggerated claims arising out of a small grain of scientific evidence. Such as lab results demonstrating that certain bacteria's growth can be retarded by exposure to certain light wavelengths -- which is a far cry from proving that the device actually does what it claims to do (by any measurable amount).

      Like most of these "scam" gadgets, it's possible that they might actually work, to some degree, for some people. But anything is possible, and when there's no demonstrable proof of any kind that these claims hold up, we should basically consider it a completely bogus claim (i.e., a scam) until proven otherwise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jack, 18 Mar 2015 @ 9:15am

        Re: Re:

        While Light Therapy may be up in the air as to what health benefits it has at all (if any whatsoever), a $30 LED device isn't going to do anything whatsoever. In order to replicate the sun or even come within an order of magnitude of just stepping outside, you are going to need to be using powerful 3 and 5 watt LEDs clustered together, and those are very, very expensive to run.

        For example, about 100w of LED light will reproduce stepping outside on a sunny day with a similar spectrum (using a mix of LEDs) within 6 or 8 inches using 90 degree optics and cover your face fully. Unfortunately, a unit that powerful is going to run $500-$600.

        This unit is using a few 1w LEDs massively under driven and likely put out light a couple of magnitudes less powerful than just stepping outside. If you want light therapy, open a freaking window.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Jonathan, 19 Mar 2015 @ 5:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          In order to replicate the sun or even come within an order of magnitude of just stepping outside, you are going to need to be using powerful 3 and 5 watt LEDs clustered together, and those are very, very expensive to run.


          Are you American? I ask because you seem a little too proud of not understanding the inverse square law.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Blackfiredragon13 (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      It could have a placebo effect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jack, 18 Mar 2015 @ 9:30am

        Re: Re:

        The sun will certainly make you feel better - there are lots of chemical pathways in the brain that light up when you are out in the sun. Also, seasonal depression and depression in places like Alaska where there is almost no sun for months on end is well documented.

        The problem is this device is certainly placebo because it doesn't have anywhere near the power to replicate the sun. To build an LED cluster that will replicate the power of the sun, you are going to need close to half a grand. Just ask anybody who keeps a coral reef tank or grows a lot of weed (or both).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Edith D. Thurman, 26 Feb 2017 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Duh obviously you know nothing about LEDs or "Infrared"! This has NOTHING AT ALL to do with trying to work like the Sun, unless you wanted to die of burnt skin and cancer. Try reading a book!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 18 Mar 2015 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      MUCH cheaper just to rub snake oil all over yourself daily.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chucks, 18 Mar 2015 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      Blue light therapy from a dermatologist actually does work quite well on acne. Given the rapidly falling price of LEDs I don't think it's impossible that the device could deliver similar results.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 21 Mar 2015 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      Here's their FDA submission: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf12/K123999.pdf

      They claim substantial effects, but two things stood out to me: part of the grading was conducted by "the principal investigator", who I think is affiliated with the company, and I didn't see any mention of a control group.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 6:45am

    Business Opportunity

    Hmm, I see a business opportunity here for those people who don't like using soldering irons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    S. T. Stone (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 6:47am

    Wow. Wasteful, self-serving, and full of hubris.

    These guys could run for political office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 6:49am

    Let's bet on the order of the lawsuits about to happen

    1) CFAA violation
    2) Felony Interference with a Business Model
    3) DMCA for "copyrighted" how-to-disable instructions
    4) "Hacking" charges
    5) Trademark Violation
    6) Unfair Competition

    Depending on their level of over-reaction, this could get interesting...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 18 Mar 2015 @ 6:54am

    An Old Con Game

    This would seem to be one of those cases where, as the old saying goes, "the way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your pocket!"

    Have a look at: Clifford Ashdown, The Assyrian Rejuvenator

    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0607781h.html

    Plus ca change... I wonder if it would be possible to do a "Romney Pringle" on the vendors of this magic mask.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Miles Barnett (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:03am

    Why Bother

    My guess is that after 30 days if I don't reset mine, and you do reset yours, they both will have the same level of effectiveness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    meh, 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:06am

    Reads like what inkjet printer manufacturers have been doing for years making us need to buy their way too overpriced refills.

    But as seen everywhere, the more drm implemented, the more even more clever workarounds get applied.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:07am

    30000hr/8hr is a bad estimate

    You apparently calculate using the expected life time of a single LED under normal operating conditions.

    But we are talking about more than a single LED here, and they are likely getting more than the normal operating current (particularly if we want to reach believably medically relevant illumination levels). Once one LED gives up, all LEDs wired in series with it go out as well.

    So there is some sense, if you don't want to get hit by consumer laws (like in Europe where you have to give warranties for at least 2 years), in declaring the device as "disposable" and have some mechanism that records the actual amount of "disposable" time that has been spent.

    A hard and well-announced limit in advance saves you from complaints about a device not designed to last.

    Frankly I am more surprised that this product apparently has a market at all than at the time limit built into it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:40am

      Re: 30000hr/8hr is a bad estimate

      "So there is some sense, if you don't want to get hit by consumer laws (like in Europe where you have to give warranties for at least 2 years), in declaring the device as "disposable" and have some mechanism that records the actual amount of "disposable" time that has been spent."

      How so? Why not just declare the device as disposable, guarantee that it can be used only 30 times, and leave out the kill mechanism?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jack, 18 Mar 2015 @ 9:34am

      Re: 30000hr/8hr is a bad estimate

      These are going to be standard 1w LEDs being massively underdriven... If they wanted a real "Light Therapy Device" it would be a cluster of 3-5+w LEDs properly driven with optics. And it would be $500.

      That 30,000 hours isn't the actual life expectancy of an LED. 50,000 hours is the standard for when an LED will reach 90% of it's original output. SO, they are underestimating the possible lifespan of the LEDs especially considering that they are underdriven. For $30 they they can't afford to put a driver capable of overdriving the LEDs...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Timmy Williams, 18 Mar 2015 @ 9:38am

      Re: 30000hr/8hr is a bad estimate

      Lifetime is roughly exponential. There's a bit of a higher fail rate early due to manufacturing errors. However, ignoring those, the 30k hour lifetime typically means the time at which the luminosity drops to 70% for LEDs. Taking it as a failure rate, that's when ~2/3 of LEDs will have "failed."

      If you have an array of N LEDs and want to know the lifetime with every single one working, you should calculate the probability of not having a failure and raise that to the power of N. This yields exp(-t/L)^N, where L is 30k hours.

      Supposing there are 50 LEDs, this would yield 600 hours of lifetime. With 100 LEDs, it's 300 hours.

      Flipping it around, in order to get 7.5 hours of lifetime we would need to solve exp(-7.5/L)^N = 1/e such that N ~ 4000.

      Now taking instead that we want to ensure that 99.9% of devices last at least some time T with N LEDs, we instead want exp(-T/L)^N = 0.999. With 100 LEDs, this is nearly impossible - we would expect on average 30 minutes of use. With 50 LEDs, we would have 1 hour.

      Moving the target down to a 99% non-failure rate (or to put this in "business" terms it's nearly 3 sigma), 10 LEDs would yield 30 hours, 20 LEDs would yield 15 hours and 40 LEDs would yield 7.5 hours.

      This is how you get 30k hour LEDs to be arranged into a device of 40 LEDs with a guaranteed operating time of 7.5 hours. It's guaranteed at the 99% level, such that they'd expect only 1% of devices to fail to live up to their claims. Roughly half of the ones which do not live up to that do make it at least halfway, so failures after a few days are rare - O(0.1%). This keeps the customer happy because they're told it will work for a month and 99% of the time, it does.

      Now the resetting business says that 1/3 of devices will survive to 750 hours of use. That's 100x more than the manufacturer claims. 50% will last 500 hours, which would be a bit more than 5.5 years of usage.

      Note however this does not take into account cases where, say, 1 or 2 LEDs stop working. Some people would be happy to continue using something like that, others would think it's time to buy a new one. Others would think they can simply replace the broken LED, and depending on the soldering done to the board it is probably a pretty easy thing to fix with the right tools and skillset.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 21 Mar 2015 @ 11:49am

        Re: Re: 30000hr/8hr is a bad estimate

        This is how you get 30k hour LEDs to be arranged into a device of 40 LEDs with a guaranteed operating time of 7.5 hours.

        That would explain a 30-hour warranty, but does not account for intentionally killing the device after 30 hours. That is just blatantly anti-consumer.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kog999, 18 Mar 2015 @ 1:33pm

      Re: 30000hr/8hr is a bad estimate

      why not just call it disposable but let it naturally die when the components fail from natural causes

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:37am

    Patented?

    illuMask’s patented 30-use system makes it happen.


    Wait a second... they patented a system that counts to 30 to turn something off??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:44am

      Re: Patented?

      You are overlooking the inventive part, writing the description so that it fools the patent examiner into thinking you are describing a new invention.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:47am

    At illuMask our patented customer service starts at the engineering phase. /sark

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 7:50am

    Simply put, [30 uses] per mask is the best way for us to offer you high-performance light-therapy [...] at $1 per day.
    Really? It actually seems like it's the best way to ensure new purchases every day
    Aren't you agreeing with them, then? It seems they're being honest—if not for this system, customers wouldn't be paying $1/day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:00am

    Want to know what's synonymous with DRM? Cheap quality.

    A few years ago, we bought a Maytag washing machine. You know, the heavily-marketed brand of appliance we all trusted growing up?

    Well, the "DRM" in this case was plastic gears. That's right, the heavily used parts to force agitation in the washing machine were made of plastic, and over a very, very short time span, would find themselves ground down to nothing.

    We decided to negate the top-loading washer for a front-load, as the salesman, who used to work for Maytag, stated even he wouldn't buy today's new washer.

    Sorry for the long winded story, but there is a point here: today's goddamn business model is shortening the life of a product, intentionally, so the revenue stream never ends.

    This has nothing to do with DRM. It has everything to do with greed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:11am

      Re: "This has nothing to do with DRM. It has everything to do with greed."

      You've just exposed Techdirt's ideological slant: Masnick and Techdirt are against "DRM" and work the term in often as possible (as also "Streisand effect") -- while they like corporate greed, regard it as the driving force of "capitalism".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:21am

      Re:

      Maytag hasn't existed except as a name since 2006, when they got purchased by Whirlpool.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:46am

      Re:

      ...so the revenue stream never ends...

      I've lost track of how many business publications/blogs talk about selling a business whereby the buyer will offer a higher price if the business has recurring revenue. Either the business has to have something the customer can't do without - ISP access and cel phones, for example - or is willing to pay for even if they don't actually need it -cable tv and burglar alarm monitoring the examples here.

      Yes computer hardware AND software falls into this, too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 18 Mar 2015 @ 10:57am

      Re:

      10 years ago we bought a LG washing machine (+dryer) (Tromm - front load).
      Both still run perfect...
      How come?
      They use magnets to turn the drum...!
      It spins super fast, no noise, and no mechanical parts to break...
      It was a very good purchase!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 18 Mar 2015 @ 11:12am

        Re: Re:

        They use magnets to turn the drum...!

        You'll be hard put to find a washing machine that doesn't. Electrostatic motors (which would be the alternative) don't come at that power level.

        Whatever part of your machine you want to call "magnet" and what you want to call "motor" and "drum": you'll need bearings and coils and magnetic "conductors".

        And "no mechanical parts to break": I doubt that you'll get magnetic bearings at consumer price levels.

        It's nice that your washing machine is still holding up but it would appear that you got a somewhat inflated view of the technology it employs.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anon, 18 Mar 2015 @ 12:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What I meant:

          (from wiki)
          and feature a direct drive motor which eliminates belt drive of the wash drum, a design which extends motor service life and allows LG to extend a seven-year warranty on the motor drive mechanism.

          Yes, electrostatic motor, exactly...
          There is no gear driving the drum.
          Also it spins like 3x faster than a "normal" washer with belt and gears, so I guess they do have pretty powerful electrostatic motors in them...
          Round metal bearings do not break like plastic gears fyi...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:12am

    Keureg

    I know a girl who works for Keureg. The reason for the DRM is because off-brand cups aren't made of the same non-recyclable plastic, and would warp and sometimes burst spraying scalding hot coffee everywhere. So the engineers made it so you needed an approved cup. That's basically to avoid a McDonalds-style lawsuit.

    The PR people are the ones who completely flummoxed that message. It could have been handled much better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:22am

      Re: Keureg

      Thats easily fixed without DRM, on the machine place a warning: "Using non-Keureg approved K-cups may result in serious injury or death"

      So you are trying to make me believe that they invested $$$ in creating DRM technology to avoid a lawsuit when a simple warning label would have been sufficient?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:23am

      Re: Keureg

      "So the engineers made it so you needed an approved cup."

      Which is easily, hands down, the stupidest way of addressing the issue. The non-stupid way would be to address it like liability issues are usually addressed: with clear warnings that using anything but official K-cups is not supported or approved and liability is waived if the customer does that.

      But I don't believe that was the reason for the DRM. I could believe that was the excuse, and that's what the engineers were told, but it makes no real sense.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 6:57pm

        Re: Re: Keureg

        Which is easily, hands down, the stupidest way of addressing the issue. The non-stupid way would be to address it like liability issues are usually addressed: with clear warnings that using anything but official K-cups is not supported or approved and liability is waived if the customer does that.

        Especially when the main company fighting the Keureg K-Cup DRM is San Fransisco Bay Coffee Company/Rogers Family Company, which doesn't use plastic to cover their K-Cups anyway, and instead makes a 97% bio-degradable cup that is missing the wasted plastic "cover".

        They currently offer a device for free that blasts Keureg 2.0's DRM out of the water.

        But I don't believe that was the reason for the DRM. I could believe that was the excuse, and that's what the engineers were told, but it makes no real sense.

        They made this DRM solely to cut out the Rogers Family Company and others from producing cheaper, more environmentally friendly K-cups and thus cutting them out of mad-profits. That is the only reason that makes any sense.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:31am

      Re: Keureg

      What they should have done is make the machine flash a big safety warning when a non-keurig cup was inserted, force the user to acknowledge it with a button press and then go ahead and brew it anyway.

      Everybody wins. Unless the problem wasn't marketing flumoxxing the message, but marketing latching onto a convenient excuse to squeeze the most possible money out of their customers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:41am

      Re: Keureg

      so this co-worker of yours, whats she like?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sorrykb (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 8:43am

      Re: Keureg

      But the PR people did in fact make the "dangerous inferior exploding competitor's product" argument. The problem for Keurig is that most people simply didn't believe them.

      Now, thave been sufficient safety problems to merit a recall of some seven million Keurig coffeemakers. But it's a recall of the Keurig brewers, and doesn't mention anything about Keurig vs competitors' cups. So maybe the cups aren't the problem here. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Keurig-Recalls-MINI-Plus-Brewing-Systems/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 4:58pm

      Re: Keureg

      "The reason for the DRM is because off-brand cups aren't made of the same non-recyclable plastic, and would warp and sometimes burst spraying scalding hot coffee everywhere."

      Sounds more like a fundamental flaw in the design of the machine to me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 10:25am

    Where's the DRM?

    I get that there's a circuit board so the timer counts as digital, but what "right" is being managed? Is the company only licensing the use of their products, not selling them?

    This seems like planned obsolescence. I think the difference is important because "circumventing" obsolete hardware by fixing broken parts is called maintenance, while circumventing DRM is a felony.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 11:46am

      Anti-circumvention laws apply?

      You raise a valid point in this case, Jeremy. Do the DMCA Anti-circumvention statutes apply to this device?

      Would it be feasible for someone to offer an aftermarket upgrade service, where they soldier on the on-off switch?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        beltorak (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 2:46pm

        Re: Anti-circumvention laws apply?

        I don't think the DMCA anti-circumvention clause applies. I used to think so, but a quick DDG search turned up http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009/12/what-is-drm-doing-in-my-garage/

        That's not to say you won't be charged/sued anyway of course. And the anti-circumvention clause is still awful because it rests on the possibility of infringement instead of actual infringement. But in this case I think you are clear because the technology does not protect access to any copyrighted work.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 11:59am

      Re: Where's the DRM?

      The "right" to use the product.

      Planned obsolescence is intentionally using inferior or otherwise engineered to break after a certain period of time. Items with planned obsolescence are typically designed so that the cost of repairing the broken item is equal to or greater than simply buying a new one.

      After the maximum uses, this product doesn't break down or otherwise fail; it uses an electronic system to deliberately refuse to turn on. All parts are still in perfect working order and, without the electronic switch, would continue to work for a significant period of time.

      While the end state of these two methods is similar (forcing users to rebuy the product) the DRM method feels much worse. This is because, logically, you know that nothing is wrong with the product. There's no broken piece, no fading light, nothing physically wrong. It just stops working because the company that sold it to you said so. At least with a cheap plastic part or other failure you can see that something is broken. If it was a cheap item in the first place, you don't feel as ripped off because the creator used cheap components, and theoretically it could have kept working (planned obsolescence rarely has a specific date it's designed to break down).

      People don't like being told what they can and can't do with products they buy. They paid for it, it's "theirs," and if the creator doesn't like it...don't sell it. We like to own things, and having other people restrict our use of things we own, especially if it is purely for their benefit and not ours, is insulting and frustrating.

      This is why DRM in general is so unpopular. It's not that everyone just wants to "steal" stuff, or pirate it. It's that we don't like strings attached to stuff we bought.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jeremy Lyman (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 12:26pm

        Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

        Hmm interesting, the "rights" in your interpretation of DRM is different than how I normally use it. I envision that digital "rights management" applies to exercise of rights by a copyright holder; specifically their right to exercise a limited monopoly of a fixed expression.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 2:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

          That usually what DRM is used for, but it doesn't have to be. The "rights" in the acronym isn't talking about copyright (or any legal right) specifically.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            JoeCool (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 5:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

            The right in question could be argued to be Property Rights, as they seek to control property you have legally purchased.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 19 Mar 2015 @ 8:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

              Originally, the "rights" in the acronym referred to "access rights". Not in the legal sense, but in the technical sense.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JP Jones (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 3:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

          According to Wikipedia, DRM is a class of technologies that are used by hardware and software manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders, and individuals with the intent to control the use of digital content and devices after sale.

          So I would apply the "devices" category to this situation, similar to hardware/software switches designed to prevent rooting a phone or installing Linux or your Playstation. The DRM has little to do with copyright and everything to do with using their device in the way the manufacturers "intended." And the term is commonly used any time an electronic mechanism is utilized to prevent behavior in a device that it is otherwise capable of doing, such as using off-brands of ink/cleaner/coffee, rooting/jailbreaking, or running otherwise compatible but not "official" software.

          In this specific case I do not believe "planned obsolescence" applies because planned obsolescence implies a mechanical or other failure of some sort, such as an inferior piece breaking. If the creator had used ridiculously cheap LEDs that simply broke down after a month, that would be planned obsolescence.

          That's not the case here. The hardware works fine. It simply has an electronic switch that tells the device not to turn on once a completely arbitrary time has been met. In this case, much like you have the "right" to use off-brand components that physically fit into and are technically compatible with your device, you have the "right" to turn on a perfectly functional device you bought. It's a purely digital restriction that prevents you from doing so, hence "Digital Rights Management."

          Maybe it's splitting hairs, but hey, you started it =).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Jeremy Lyman (profile), 19 Mar 2015 @ 4:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

            I agree we're splitting hairs, though I think it's a useful conversation to have. Mostly because a lot of people are resigned to the fact that DRM comes packaged into so many things they "buy" these days. I'd posit that it may be reasonable to accept reasonable DRM in software or media (debatable I know), it's never reasonable to include a rights management scheme in a physical purchase like this.

            I guess that's why calling them the same thing troubles me; spreading access control into new frontiers should be met with resistance. Maybe if I thought people avoided any DRM like the plague I wouldn't mind, but I worry most people won't care and these shenanigans will spread.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              JP Jones (profile), 19 Mar 2015 @ 6:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

              DRM is sort of like most of the major broadband companies; a crappy service that everyone hates but is the only way to get the product they want. So they deal with it because there isn't a viable alternative.

              The sad part is that DRM does almost nothing, for physical products or software. Physical products are easily broken by mechanical or electronic fixes, and software is easily broken by hex editors and a bit of creative thinking (or not even that much, since most software DRM uses similar methods that are equally easy to crack).

              The fact is that if you give a human being an object they'll eventually be able to take it apart and modify it. The only way to prevent people from messing with your stuff is to simply not give it to them or scare them into not messing with it. That's why the only "effective" DRM is the type used in MMOs; since the game server is owned and managed by the developers it's very difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the game by breaking its DRM (you can hack accounts to gain access or even create your own server, but you won't be replicating the standard user experience). Other than server-reliant video games virtually all other software I know of has either been cracked or has the potential to be cracked.

              For anyone who's used a crack (before all the "pirate!" cries I'd like to point out that cracks are often used on legally purchased software) you know that they are easy to use and rarely cause issues. DRM likely causes more issues for paying customers than it does for pirates.

              DRM feels good to the executives who demand it. It's an easy way to pretend they're doing something to prevent "theft." In reality DRM does nothing to protect against copyright infringement; it's easily circumvented and copyright infringement is illegal (or legal) regardless of DRM.

              DRM has one other purpose: abusing the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA in order to make otherwise legal uses of a product illegal. And while it hasn't really held up well for physical products it certainly makes legal uses of software into a litigation landmine. The goal is to create a chilling effect on legal, but not necessarily supported, uses of your product.

              Pirates aren't concerned with this. Competitors, however, are very concerned. People attempting to innovate legal-but-not-supported uses for existing products can easily be shut down or frightened into inaction by DRM.

              Which, of course, is the whole point. Maybe there are some executives out there that truly believe piracy is "killing" their industry but they're the dumb ones. The rest preach anti-piracy but their real goal is anti-competition. After all, competition makes you have to do irritating things like deliver a decent product at a reasonable price while treating your customers well.

              Meanwhile they will point out imaginary "losses" to piracy to keep legislators and the public focused on a scapegoat that literally cannot be "beaten." It's a fantastic system for them; whenever the debate moves towards the anti-competitive, anti-consumer practices they've built their business on, they can just call all their opponents "pirates" and gain imaginary moral high ground. And it works.

              The biggest losers in all of this, of course, are artists. It's easy to convince them that people are stealing their work and then be the "good guy" that will protect them from all the "bad guys" by going after those mean old pirates. All you have to do is sign up with us and give away us 70% or more of your profits along with all your rights to your work. You even have a 1% chance of being one of our sponsored "stars" decided by our executive boards. What a fantastic deal!

              Is anyone surprised they don't want this money train to end?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2015 @ 3:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

          The rights referred to in DRM are not natural or legal rights, but rather are any you choose to grant yourself through technological control mechanisms.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 2:28pm

      Re: Where's the DRM?

      I agree. This isn't DRM. This is just planned obsolescence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JMT (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 5:43pm

        Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

        But's it's not obsolete. While it may be stretching the definition of DRM a little, thanks to some digital management, it stops working after operating for only a fraction of it's potential useful life. That's just as bad as true DRM.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 19 Mar 2015 @ 8:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Where's the DRM?

          Oh, I completely agree that it's just as objectionable as DRM. I'm making a technical distinction here, not a moral one.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 10:49am

    Warrenty

    "Doing this likely voids any warranty" It only has a 30 day warranty, so by the time you do this, it's outside of the warranty period.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ben (profile), 18 Mar 2015 @ 2:49pm

    Bought one

    I just bought, simply because I can hack it and use it for as long as see fit too. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    any moose cow word, 18 Mar 2015 @ 3:40pm

    Considering how simple it sounds to reset the timer, I wonder how long it would take for someone to create a business around "refurbishing" these. Probably the same amount of time it would take the manufacturer to find out that someone else is piggybacking on their scheme, I mean "business model".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 19 Mar 2015 @ 12:51am

    This is like those "disposable" digital cameras which are only supposed to be good for a certain number of photos. With the right cable and software, they can re-used indefinitely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2015 @ 2:55am

      Re:

      "This is like those "disposable" digital cameras which are only supposed to be good for a certain number of photos. With the right cable and software, they can re-used indefinitely."

      Just to be clear, many (perhaps even most -- or all) of those $10 disposable "digital" cameras are actually film cameras -- the developer just gives you back digital copies of the photos on a CD.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 28 Mar 2015 @ 3:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Just to be clear, many (perhaps even most -- or all) of those $10 disposable "digital" cameras are actually film cameras -- the developer just gives you back digital copies of the photos on a CD.

        True, however there are some "disposable" cameras that are actually digital.

        Plus, even those those "disposable" film cameras can be opened and reloaded.

        I'm not saying that anyone would prefer re-using one of them over a normal camera (film or digital), just that so many things marketed as being "disposable" today are only disposable because the company chose to make it hard to re-use them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2015 @ 9:00pm

    Really this type of shit should be banned for environmental reasons alone. This is worse than standard underspecing of parts for planned obsolesce. At least then they do it just by going for the cheapest parts to save on unit costs. Essentially something that can happen "innocently". This auto-breaking makes it even more wasteful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    STPMC, 22 Mar 2015 @ 7:16pm

    i like red light therapy

    i like red light therapy. i have had good results from it. i have an infrared handheld device for joints too that gives me relief. i bought one of these masks for the convenience only after i heard you can easily override the counter. haha. i would not have purchased one for 25 or 30 with the limited uses. but knowing i can use it til the leds burn out, i am willing to spend that. so the hacks are creating their revenue stream, i'd say. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Melissa, 1 May 2015 @ 6:13pm

    Resetting Illumask

    So I reset the Illumask to 30 using a paper clip, & replaced the batteries. Now when I turn it on, it lights up briefly- like 10 seconds- then dims back off & goes down 1 number. What am I doing wrong???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brenda, 3 Apr 2016 @ 12:11pm

    My controller is different

    On my controller the battery compartment comes completely off. And half the battery connectors are on the battery compartment and half on the circuit side. You cannot access the circuit board with the batteries installed. There is nothing on the circuit labeled "reset". I want to hack this controller but it is totally different than all the instructions.
    My circuit board says "LED MASK REV A4 20136-11-20"
    The red, black and brown wires go into the bottom end of the controller and are labeled Red: VCC; Blk: GND ; Brn: C5
    There is a copper spot in the middle that says "VDD" and some up higher labeled, "Tryme" "sw1" & "int" (I have no idea what all these little dots are for.. I'm not very techie). WHAT DO AI DO!!???

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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