Another contender for making your home smarter has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds. The Beijing-based startup behind Plugaway has put together WiFi connected plugs and LED lightbulbs, which, used in conjunction with its apps for Android and iOS, can remotely control your appliances or your lights.
The system can also be used to monitor electricity consumption, schedule and time appliances, and set up device alerts and notifications. Or it will, assuming it hits its Kickstarter goal and transitions from the current prototype stage to commercial product (Plugaway is aiming to ship to backers next April). It’s very close to making its funding goal at least, with more than $43,200 raised of a $45,495 target with 34 days left on their on their crowdfunding campaign.
Updating standard electrical household objects, such as your trusty old desk lamp, to turn them into smart app-controlled objects — by augmenting them with tech such as Phillips Hue line of WiFi bulbs — can be an expensive business. It can also be a bit of a faff. In the case of Hue, a WiFi bridge is required to plug into your router to link the bulbs to your broadband. And that bridge is pricey and the connection between its companion app and bridge is flaky, at least in our experience.
Plugaway’s aim is to reduce the costs of hooking your old school appliances into the tap-happy convenience of the modern world. They’re doing this by offering two pieces of hardware: smart plugs, so you can plug any appliance in and remotely switch it on or off, and smart LEDs, so you can remotely control lights.
Their WiFi enabled smart plugs cost $30 a plug — which is cheaper than Belkin’s WeMo plugs. And their LED lightbulbs are also priced cheaper than LIFX’s similar kit (which starts at under $90 a bulb).
Plugaway has also decided it needs to embrace openness to get under the skin of big name competitors in this space — so, for instance, it’s going to let users customize its app:
“We have decided to let everyone, including small firms, interior designers, developers, restaurant owners, even hobbyists, build an app in their own style with limitless functionality, share their skins on our website and brand the software with their logotypes. In short — to give it your personality.”
Its openness also extends to compatibility with other apps and services, such as IFTTT, or other open smart home devices & systems.
“Our open software means two things. Developers are able to integrate other devices into the app and share their add-ins. The other is that Plugaway will also be compatible with other systems, so you don’t even need to use our app unless you absolutely want to! Provided your existing system is open, you may use the Plugaway app’s API to connect with your current home-automation system.”
Plugaway’s project is also an interesting study in how to polish the gem of an idea into something with more commercial potential with the help of the Kickstarter community.