Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Smart home automation has really caught fire these past few years and manufacturers are hopping on the bandwagon while they still can. Smart thermostats, door locks, light bulbs, and so much more — you name it, it’s probably being developed.
Here comes the smart home revolution. Worried that it might be expensive? Smart homes are cheaper than you think. In fact, there are plenty of mind-blowing products that you can afford right now. Don’t let price deter you.
According to ABI Research, 1.5 million smart home systems were installed in 2012. In 2017, estimations predict that 8 million systems will be installed. How’s that for rapid adoption? And the best part about smart home automation is that the possibilities are currently endless.
But not all of those possibilities will be winners. There are plenty of products that sound great but simply aren’t feasible or have taken so long to develop that they’re no longer interesting. Here are a few that you probably shouldn’t waste your time waiting for.
SONTE Smart Shade
A little less than a year ago, I recommended a handful of smart appliances worth buying and included the SONTE Smart Shade as one of those products. While I stand by my other recommendations, this is one that I regret mentioning, simply because I jumped the gun.
On the surface, the SONTE Smart Shade sounds revolutionary. It’s a shade that sits on your window and automatically adjusts between transparent and opaque depending on the amount of light that passes through. The goal is to block out excess light to regulate your home’s temperature.
So what’s the problem? For starters, the marketing for this product began way back in 2012. It’s been shown every year at the Consumer Electronics Show event and they even ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013. But the product still isn’t ready!
By this point, it feels like SONTE is failing to live up to the hype. Is it even real? How many competing products are going to come out before this one does? After all, there are numerous energy-saving smart home products already on the market.
I wouldn’t wait on this one. Who knows how long it’ll be before they actually release something to the public? Besides, is a smart shade even necessary anymore? I’m leaning towards no.
CastleHUB Smart System
CastleHUB, which is one of the more recent contenders in the smart home arena, claims to be “the world’s first whole-home voice control system”. In short, it’s a system that aims to support all available smart home protocols and devices, effectively replacing all other smart home hubs on the market.
It’s a tall order to make and many, like me, are skeptical about whether CastleHUB can actually accomplish what it promises to do. In fact, if you read their Kickstarter details, it’s the same handful of promises repeated over and over in different ways.
The truth is, several big name smart home hubs already support multiple protocols like Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc. For example, the SmartThings Hub is already very much mix-and-match. As home automation matures, bridging this gap between protocols will become less of a concern, and that means CastleHUB will lose much of its value.
One of the other draws of CastleHUB is that it’s voice-controlled. But is that really necessary when the more robust Amazon Echo is moving towards smart voice control? CastleHUB promises integration with Amazon Echo, but what happens when the other hubs also integrate? Why rely on a middleman when you don’t need to?
I’m not saying you should write off CastleHUB completely, but don’t rush into it. Wait and see if they can deliver. As it stands right now, the odds are stacked against them.
Kepler Gas Detector
Last year, we wrote about several smart home Kickstarter campaigns that looked interesting and worthy of funding. One in particular, the Kepler Gas Detector, sounded promising at the time but has lost much of its uniqueness since then.
The Kepler is an “intelligent gas and carbon monoxide detector” with several smart features like monitoring, alarms, and notifications. If a leak is detected, an alarm is triggered and alerts arrive on your smartphone.
Their crowdfunding efforts met success in August 2014, which led to the start of mass production in January 2015. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much news since then, and the product is still unavailable to the public. But here’s the real question: Is it worth waiting for?
Honestly, I don’t think so. The market already has the Nest Protect, which is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector that comes in battery and wired models, and Nest is a stronger smart home brand than Kepler’s company, Orvibo. I wouldn’t wait too long for this one.
Roost Smart Battery
At first, the concept of the Roost Smart Battery actually sounds pretty useful. Rather than buying a bunch of smartened devices to replace what you already have, why not smarten your current devices by inserting a smart battery instead? The execution of Roost, however, is where things fall apart.
The biggest misstep is that it’s specifically marketed as a battery for smoke alarms. Based off of that, you’d probably assume that it only works in smoke alarms. Not only that, you’d probably assume that it offers some nifty features that improve the smoke alarm you already have. Neither of these are true.
Roost will alert your smartphone when your smoke alarm goes off, but the real selling point — at least according to the website — is that it will notify you when the battery is getting low so you don’t have to deal with the endless chirp of a dying smoke alarm.
Is that really enough of a concern to warrant buying a specialized battery? As someone who was lazy enough to suffer through three months of smoke alarm chirping, even I don’t think there’s much value in the Roost. Worst of all, it’s not even available to purchase yet. Should you wait for it? I certainly won’t.
Smart Home: The Good and Bad
As with all markets, the smart home automation market is full of products that are useful, useless, and all manner in between. Before you spend money pre-ordering something that sounds cool, you should consider whether the product is actually worth supporting.
That being said, if you want to get involved with smart home automation, here are a few categories worth looking into: smart home security, smart home lighting, and if you’re feeling adventurous, smart devices you’ve never heard of.
Have you ever bought a smart device that wasn’t worth it? Are you looking forward to any smart products that are taking forever to release? Share your experiences with us in the comments!
Image Credits: Smart Home Illustration Via Shutterstock