Manufacturing guy-at-large.

Not ready for the Spotlight

Added on by Spencer Wright.

I ordered my Quirky Spotter on 2013.11.29. I received it on 2013.12.09, and plugged it in immediately. It remained plugged in but mostly inactive for all of December.

On 2013.12.23, I looked at the "Light" settings and noticed that Spotter had *never* seen any light, even though it had been sitting in my room - next to a window that gets direct sunlight - for about two weeks. 


I noted the weirdness, but didn't change the alarm setting. I then went out of town for a few days, and was surprised a few days later to see this:


It looks like I've got a few issues here. First, I'm guessing that the light sensor and its supporting hardware are indeed functional. The first problem would then be somewhere on either the firmware of the device, or on Wink's backend, or possibly on the Wink iOS app (though that seems unlikely). 

Second, Wink obviously has no idea what it means for a light to be turned on. All of these notifications happened when nobody was in my house, and I'm betting that ambient light at the Spotter was pretty consistent across these readings. So why is Wink sending me multiple notifications?

The net effect is that Spotter is pre-MVP - it's not really viable. I am the owner of a highly sophisticated piece of hardware, which can communicate with a slick iOS app, but whose supporting system infrastructure (the firmware and/or backend) simply isn't mission ready.

For obvious reasons I find this really disappointing. I had been hoping that Spotter would offer a few big improvements over Twine, which I also own. But Quirky is a fast-paced company, and they've sold me a product that - despite the encouraging anecdotes on their blog - just isn't trustworthy.

Lastly, I give you this:

Here, the organizational differences between Apple and Quirky strike me. Quirky thinks that the product stories will validate crappy execution. Apple, instead, has an ingrained (if delusional) belief in the superiority of their products, and that belief is shared throughout their company.

Home Depot, on the other hand, has neither story nor supposed superiority. They sell commoditized products and low-spec tools to a customer base that either doesn't know what they're buying or doesn't care. Their employees usually lack the training to give reliable recommendations, and their store layout - something that Apple spends a lot of time thinking about - is totally non-imageable (cf. Kevin A. Lynch, The Image of the City). 

Just because Home Depot sells "smart" products doesn't make them an advanced retail operation. And as I've experienced, Wink's "smartness" is questionable.

Note: Prior to writing this, I posted some photos on twitter and got a response - on Christmas Day - from Quirky Help. While I appreciate their assistance, I am nonetheless disappointed with the out-of-the-box performance of this high profile product... and its performance has remained, er, consistent. This taken today: