Jennifer Pattison Tuohy reported for The Verge on Wednesday that Chamberlain, maker of the popular MyQ connected garage controllers, announced it would be shutting off “all unauthorized access” to the MyQ APIs. As Tuohy notes, this move breaks support for popular third-party software tools such as Homebridge and Home Assistant.
Chamberlain made the announcement in a blog post on its website.
As Tuohy also notes in her report, news of Chamberlain’s move comes a year after the company discontinued HomeKit support.
In an update this week, Chamberlain chief technology officer Dan Phillips said in part in a statement “only 0.2% of myQ users, previously accounted for more than half of the traffic to and from the myQ system, and at times constituted a substantial DDOS [distributed denial of service] event that consumed high quantities of resources.”
A few years ago, long before the words “coronavirus” and “pandemic” became entrenched in the everyday lexicon, I decided to go all-in on building a smart home system for the house my partner and I share. It’s shape-shifted some over time, but the bedrock contains Google Nest and Apple HomeKit. While the former consists of the doorbell, thermostat, cameras, and smoke detector, the latter is what we use most of the time to control everything. The Starling Home Hub integrates all the Nest devices into HomeKit, so they’re readily available in the Home app on the panoply of Apple devices at home. Likewise, I also am clinging to dear life to the ol’ reliable OG Nest app, which has cemented itself a permanent place on the home screens of my iPhone and iPad mini.
Part of our setup includes the aforementioned, dearly-departed MyQ HomeKit garage door controller from Chamberlain. More than any smart home device we have—smart plug for lamps excepted—this is my favorite piece. Prior to adding the smart controller, the garage door was opened via a tactile keypad located just outside the door. It was older technology, which meant the buttons felt very mushy and presses didn’t always register. Worse, there was no alert of any kind to kindly tell you if you’d accidentally entered the wrong passcode. Suffice it to say, opening the garage by this method was annoying—and clearly inaccessible.
By contrast, the MyQ HomeKit controller makes it simple for me to open the garage with my phone or Apple Watch, even my iMac if I happen to be at my desk. (Siri works too, but I try to avoid it if possible due to my stutter,) Every time I open the garage, I’m reminded that adding the smart controller perhaps was the best tech decision I’ve ever made; it’s liberating to tap a button on my phone and hear the door slide open.
My before and after experiences with my house’s garage door is a good illustration of the smart home’s potential to positively impact accessibility. As with most things tech, smart homes generally are pitched as modern marvels of convenience and coolness. The smart home is both convenient and cool, it’s true, but more profound from a disability perspective is the ways in which a disabled person’s home is made more accessible. Part of living in the house is traipsing downstairs to the garage to attend to recent work done after a semi-urgent plumbing issue emerged down there. Giving the plumber access to the space were the old keypad mechanism in place would’ve been much more frustrating and embarrassing. With the MyQ system in place, all I had to do with tap the button from Control Center on my phone when the plumber knocked on the front door. A top-shelf user experience.
This isn’t an insignificant or trivial development. The garage is way more accessible right now than it ever has been, and it brings me joy in a way that would make Marie Kondo proud. Convenience is one thing, but accessibility is most important as a lifelong disabled person. Tech like Chamberlain’s MyQ controller provides that freedom in spades.
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