Pet owners using Petnet automated feeders got a scare recently when the third-party servers used to control the feeder experienced an outage. The interruption affected about 10 percent of the users, but the incident brought up concerns about smart technology and automation. The Petnet technology lets pet owners set scheduled feedings for their pets, essentially allowing them to leave pets alone for short periods of time. Users also have the option to connect with the feeders remotely via a smartphone app. This option lets the owner initiate a feeding on demand while away from home with controlled amounts of food.
When the third-party servers went down, those owners lost the ability to connect to the feeders. The company alerted users that remote feedings could fail and scheduled feeds could be lost. Petnet also encouraged users to manually feed pets during that time. While the company did notify users, this was still a major problem for pet owners who were out of town or unable to get to their pets immediately.
The outage only lasted about 10 hours, so pets weren’t in danger of starving. Petnet users were understandably upset, especially not knowing how long the outage would last. At a cost of about $150, owners expect the feeders to work reliably and provide peace of mind knowing their pets won’t go hungry while they are gone.
Petnet reported that engineers knew the issue existed and tried to resolve the problem, but the fix didn’t come fast enough to prevent the outage. New back-up systems are now in place to prevent the same type of outage in the future.Despite the short length of this outage, it does raise concerns about automation of tasks. Can you rely on an automated feeder to actually provide food to your pet if you leave for several hours or even a few days? Owners using automated feeding systems: be careful!
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