Some ovens randomly heated up in the night, confirming our worst smart home fears
Ever wondered whether your smart appliances are plotting against you? Well, here's another piece of news that might keep you on your toes. A few smart oven users have reported their devices suddenly turning on and reaching broiling temperature in the middle of the night.
The culprits this time are June's smart ovens — a countertop oven acting as "seven appliances in one" that can be controlled remotely using the company's app. The oven also features an internal camera that can detect what type of food you're cooking and automatically bring up appropriate settings for you.
As convenient as it sounds, it seems the smart oven might be a little too eager to start prepping meals for its owners. According to The Verge, one man reported an incident where his smart oven turned on "around 2:30AM and broiled at 400 degrees" for at least four hours while he was asleep. The man didn't notice the oven until he woke up.
A second customer accidentally left potatoes in the oven and woke up to crisp, burnt husks when the oven decided to switch on and heat to 425 degrees for hours in the middle of the night. The third report came from an owner who woke up to a notification on her phone informing her that the oven was finished preheating to 400 degrees. The incident left her further concerned about leaving the oven plugged in while she was out of the house.
So far, the phenomenon hasn't spread too far among users. But the company behind the smart ovens is taking the claims seriously. June plans to release an update, scheduled next month, that will allow people to disable the option to preheat the oven from their smartphones. In a statement to Business Insider, the company said it does not believe it's a software issue. June suspects it's the users' devices that are to blame for the accidental powering on.
Matt Van Horn, June's CEO, gave The Verge a similar response, equating the accidents to slips of a finger while browsing on a smartphone.
"People have always joked about the butt-dial," he said. "[T]hese are just the types of things in software that we just have to be mindful of and build great features around to make our customers happy."
But while butt-dialing may (generally) be pretty harmless, the danger of leaving an oven on unattended can be life-threateningly serious. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen. Of all these all these cooking-related fires, ovens account for 13 percent of them. The NFPA recommends staying in the kitchen and monitoring appliances while broiling, baking, or roasting food.
Currently, the oven's remote preheating feature will remain functional, but an update to the app today removes some shortcuts that make it harder to activate accidentally. June has reassured its users that it will continue to develop safety options.
It's a good step toward giving customers a peace of mind while using smart ovens, but it still serves as a warning about the dangers of leaving your smart appliances to think for themselves. Here's to hoping butt-dials in the future won't accidentally set off your entire house.
*This post has been updated to reflect further statements from June.