Den Automation and the Cloud

A few months ago, Den Automation Ltd appeared to drop off the face of the earth. My hub disconnected from the internet and the Den app would only work whilst I was at home.

I should point out that I invested in Den via Seedrs.

Continued Operation is possible

I took time to try and understand the protocol and eventually managed to write some code that allowed me to continuing using them. I created a Flow in my Home Automation installation using NodeRed. This essentially bridged messages from my Hass over to my Den Hub.

This has been reasonable successful, but there are some issues.

#1 The Den Hub needs to be restarted every week or so. I don’t know what’s happening, but I suspect the MQTT server they are using has a memory leak. After a few days of successful operation, it disconnects from NodeRed and refuses new connections. A restart clears this.

#2 Speed is inconsistent. Sometimes operating a light or socket from within HA will result in speedy action from the Den unit. Sometimes it takes several seconds and sometimes nothing happens.

#3 Disconnections from the switches and sockets. This has happened my bathroom switch. It just no longer operates or sends its state. I guess it has lost contact with the Hub. I might try and reset it, but I think that’s probably a crap shoot since I have no App to guide the process.

Liquidation

Den Automation Ltd. are officially in liquidation.

As somebody who invested in both shares and product, I’ve been hit twice.

I’m also in the process of trying to recover some of the money I spend on pre-orders, as some of the items were never delivered. I’ve submitted the paperwork, but I have yet to get a response.

End of the line

With Den officially in Liquidation, there is no longer any hope for the company.

I’ve also decided to start the process of removing all their products from my home. First to go was the double socket connected to my Kitchen’s TV. I’ve replaced this with a Sonoff switch (flashed with Tasmota).

I’ve had a great experience with the Shelly 1 relay product, so my plan is to remove all the Den light switches upstairs and restore the original switches, with Shelly relays going into the lights.

Cloud Control

The loss of Den’s cloud crippled the product for most people who had purchased it. I was lucky that I was had the knowledge and tools to determine the local protocol and leverage it from my own ends. Sadly, I wasn’t able to help anyone else.

Den’s local control ability was the primary thing that attracted me to their product line. The relied on the Cloud for user account’s and when that went, their app became useless, actually logging the users out. Not as “local” as I had hoped.

Sonos’s recent announcement about their hardware has made me come to the conclusion that any hardware that needs a Cloud is bad. It’s hardware you own, but don’t own. I’ve got £250 of Den products that I can’t really use because a company was poorly managed, despite the product itself being fully operational.

Google did the same thing a few years back killing off a smart home company called Revolv. Pulled the plug and turned off all the hardware.

I’ve got some Nest products in my house and all this has me wondering how long they will last!

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