Jailbreaking your cat litter: welcome to the Internet of Feudal Things

Jorge loves his Catgenie automated cat-litter tray, but doesn't love spending $350/year on "Sanisolution" (perfumed gunk that makes the litter stick to his cats' feet and gets tracked all over his apartment), but he discovered that the manufacturer uses DRM to stop him from filling the empty Sanisolution reservoir with water.

Lucky for him, the Catgenius community has jailbroken the Catgenie and will help you reload it with liquid of your choosing.

It's a powerful, simple example of how the "Internet of Things" can easily become the feudal world of tomorrow. It's unlikely that the DMCA would make it a felony to jailbreak a litter-pan, but it is highly illegal to jailbreak your phone, tablet, console, or other entertainment device. And once those devices all merge with home automation systems (like Nest), they will acquire the same legal protection, meaning that the technology that could freeze you to death, spoil all the food in your fridge, or keep your car on the road will likely be designed to make you send a stream of recurring payments to a distant corporate overlord, and that any steps you take to make your property responsive to your needs will be jailable offenses.

Just another step on the road to turning all humanity into gut-flora for immortal, transhuman corporations.

Seriously CatGenie, you added fairly sophisticated DRM to a litter box? I'm a tad hurt you spent my money on building in a restriction instead of figuring out how to avoid constantly cooking poop.

This made me realize that I don't actually own a CatGenie, I'm renting it. Though I paid for it, I have to pay per use yet I'm still responsible for all repairs until it craps out and I have to get another one. A tad disheartening.

Thankfully, some amazing people are helping the CatGenie community.(Yeah, there's a CatGenie community). They've released products like the custom firmware CatGenius and CartridgeGenius which allows you to use whatever solution you want.

The Future: A Cat Litter Box and DRM [Jorge Lopez]


(via /.)