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Category: #Smarthomes (Page 1 of 6)

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iRobot built over 100 models of dog poop to train Roomba’s visual AI

Screenshot from irobot video about their poop-detection AI

Apparently Roomba owners who also own dogs have long encountered a problem: If the dog poops on the floor, their helpful robot vacuum rides right over it and smears it across the living room.

So iRobot decided to build a visual-detection model to help Roombas recognize, and avoid, dog poop. — Read the rest

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Clive Thompson

Segway Fixed The Biggest Issue with Robot Lawn Mowers

Segway, the personal transport company, is moving into lawn care. The Navimow is the brand’s first smart lawn mower, and it looks to fix one of the biggest issues in robot lawn care. The Segway Navimow will use GPS to navigate your lawn rather than boundary cables and other wires.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cory Gunther

The 6 Best Smart Blinds and Shades

Person using smart home app on phone to control window blinds indoors, closeupNew Africa/

Smart blinds or shades are a great investment that’ll polish off your smart home and really pull everything together. When you deck out your home with smart shades, you can make your life easier and set schedules and modes that your shades will remember.

Although smart shades do look neat, and it’s awesome to open and close them from your smartphone or with a remote, there are practical reasons to invest as well. Smart blinds can help your home stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, translating to a lower electric bill year-round. Smart blinds can even increase your home’s security. If you’re out of town, you can open and close your blinds remotely to make it look like someone’s home.

What to Look for In Smart Blinds and Shades

So, you’ve decided to upgrade your smart home with some smart blinds or shades. But with so many options, how do you pick the right ones for your home? Let’s take a look at everything you’ll need to consider when making your decision.

  • Automating Existing Blinds vs. Buying New Ones: If you already have blinds or shades installed in your home, you might find it easier to automate what you already have. You will still have to take down your existing blinds to install the new smart hardware, but you don’t have to take down or reinstall the headrail. With new smart blinds or shades, you have to install a whole new unit, which means measuring, making sure everything’s level, and drilling. But the upside is that you’d have sets of smart shades and blinds that are shiny and new. You can choose to have a professional install your new smart shades as well; it’ll just cost you more.
  • Shade Type: Although retailers might also offer one or two specialized styles, your main options are roller shades and wood blinds. The biggest difference between the two options is durability. Wood blinds are typically made of a harder material and will stand up better over time than roller shades do with daily wear and tear. There’s also a difference in how easy it is to clean them. Blinds will be easier to clean if someone spills a drink on them or a little one draws on them with a permanent marker. There’s also a difference in light control, which we’ll tackle in more depth in the next bullet point.
  • Light Control: Wood blinds give you more control over letting a little bit of light in, as you can tilt them open however much you want. However, with roller shades, it’s a little harder to get the perfect amount of light into your home. That said, roller shades can give you something wooden blinds can’t: blackout power. Because roller shades are a single piece of fabric, they’re naturally going to block more light from getting into your home when they’re closed. Depending on the material you choose for your smart shades, you could block out almost all outside light even when the sun is shining in the afternoon.
  • How It’s Powered: Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few options when it comes to how your smart blinds or shades are powered. There are battery-operated, hardwired, or cordless options. Some even come with a built-in solar charging panel, so you never have to worry about plugging them in or hiding unsightly wires.
  • How It’s Controlled: Consider how the blinds are controlled. Do they require a remote to work, or can you control them with an app on your smartphone? You’ll also want to make sure the blinds you choose can work with your smart platform of choice, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit.
  • Cost: You might think that automating your existing blinds or shades would be a lot cheaper than buying new ones, but that’s not necessarily true. Depending on the automation kit you go with, you’re looking at about $150-200 per set of blinds or shades. The IKEA roller blinds on this list are in that price range, and you’d be getting brand new shades. The other options for new smart shades on this list are typically in the $400-500 range, which is quite a bit more than it would cost to automate your current setup. But spending that extra money on new shades allows you to customize the fabric, style, and blackout level. I’d say that unless you’re absolutely in love with your current setup (or you just spent money on new blinds or shades), buying new smart shades is the way to go. And if you need to save money or don’t care about what they look like, stick with the IKEA FYRTUR blinds.

Best Overall: IKEA FYRTUR Roller Blinds

FYRTUR electric blinds from IKEAIKEA

For most people, these FYRTUR smart shades from IKEA are going to work perfectly. They’re affordable, easy to set up, and look clean and modern in your home.

The FYRTURs are blackout blinds, allowing you to completely block out light even when the sun is at its peak. They’re cordless and powered by a battery pack, and each shade comes with one charger battery pack and one rechargeable battery pack.

These shades come with a remote control that’s already pre-paired, but if you want full smart home functionality, you’ll need a TRADFRI hub. With this hub, you can control all of your IKEA blinds using your virtual assistant of choice, like Alexa or Google Assistant.

Best Overall

IKEA FYRTUR Roller Blinds

 IKEA’s FYRTUR smart shades are affordable, easy to install and use, and look great.

Best Premium: Serena Smart Roller Shades by Lutron

Smart Roller Shades by Serena by LutronLutron

If you have the money to splurge, these smart shades from Lutron are a terrific pick. With them, you control the style, material, and color, making it easy to find the perfect shades for your home. Plus, they’re super quiet when moving and durable enough to last for years.

There are two different styles of fascia, which is the piece at the top of your blinds that hides unsightly hardware; you can choose a fabric-wrapped fascia or an architectural, more sleek fascia. There are also sheer, translucent, and blackout fabrics to choose from, depending on how much light you want to block out; in total, there are over 200 fabrics available.

You can control the smart shades in three ways: via the Lutron app (Android/iOS), a smart remote, or your favorite voice assistant, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Then, you can also customize how the shades are powered. You can choose between battery-operated, hardwired, or cordless manual styles.

If you don’t like the look of shades, Lutron also has wood blind options and honeycomb options for you to choose from.

Best Premium

Serena Smart Roller Shades by Lutron

These smart shades from Lutron are expensive, but so worth it for the quality and all the different ways you can customize them.

Another Great Premium Option: Tilt Roller Shades

tilt by smarter home MySmartRollerShadesTilt

If you don’t find the right smart shades for you from Lutron, check out what Tilt has to offer; Tilt has customizable roller shades or smart blinds if you prefer the look of those over shades. There are eight different traditional fabrics and three different blackout fabrics you can choose from.

Either can be controlled via any Bluetooth-enabled device, like your smartphone. All you have to do is download the Tilt app (Android/iOS), and from there, you can set up schedules and automation that the onboard motor will remember and repeat no matter where you are. Tilt’s roller shades even come with a solar charging panel, so you won’t have to worry about plugging them in.

If you want full smart home functionality with voice commands from Alexa or Samsung SmartThings, you’ll need Tilt’s Bridge. With smart blinds, the Bridge device works with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Another Great Premium Option

Tilt Roller Shades

Tilt offers awesome, customizable smart shades that cost a pretty penny; they also have some great smart blind options too!

Best with a Range of Prices: Leviosa Shades


Whether you’re looking for something more affordable or you want to splurge on a luxury look, Leviosa’s smart shades have you covered.

First, you can choose between four light filter styles, including clear view, diffused view, privacy glow, and privacy total block. Privacy total block will be the closest option to a blackout shade, whereas a clear view is the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing you to see faintly through them.

After you pick a style, you can select a color and fabric type (and there are many to choose from). Traditional colors are going to be the most affordable, followed by designer colors and then luxury colors.

The customization doesn’t stop there, though. You can pick one of five valance edge colors or choose to have no valance. You’ll also have three power options: a hidden battery pack, hardwired, or a wall adapter.

You can control these via remote control or through their smartphone app (Android/iOS) using Leviosa’s Home Automation system. With the Leviosa Zone bridge, you can use Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, or many other smart home systems to control your new shades.

Best With a Range of Prices

Leviosa Shades

Leviosa gives you a ton of different smart shade options; they have luxury, designer options or more affordable options that still look great. 

Best for Preexisting Horizontal Blinds: Tilt Blinds Automation Kit

tilt by smarter home Blinds Automation KitTilt

If you already have horizontal blinds and don’t want to replace them, you can automate them with this kit from Tilt. Like Tilt’s shades above, this kit is Bluetooth-enabled and can be controlled via the MySmartBlinds app (Android/iOS). You can even use the Energy Savings mode to regulate your home’s temperature, set repeating tilting schedules, and more.

And if you want to use your blinds with Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ll need to purchase a Bridge from Tilt; that’ll give you the ability to use voice commands to control them. They include a solar charging panel, so you don’t have to plug them in to charge and require no hardwiring.

Best for Pre-Existing Horizontal Blinds

Tilt Blinds Automation Kit

Automating your horizontal blinds with this kit from Tilt is super easy. 

Best for Preexisting Roller Shades: Soma Smart Shades 2

SOMA Smart Shades 2SOMA

If you have roller shades already installed in your home, you can automate them with the Soma Smart Shades 2 kit instead of replacing them. On their website, Soma helps walk you through how to choose the right fit for your beaded chain or plain cord so you can easily ensure the perfect fit.

You can set up certain triggers to automatically move your shades based on the time of sunrise or sunset, any other time of day, or the light levels outside. There’s a built-in solar panel, so you won’t need to deal with any charging wires.

They’re easy to set up with no wires and a quick install. You can operate your shades via their app (Android/iOS). Or, if you want to use your Soma Shades with Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, or other smart home kits, you’ll need to purchase SOMA Connect separately.

Best for Pre-Existing Roller Shades

Soma Smart Shades 2

The Soma Smart Shades 2 kit makes automating your roller shades a breeze. 

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Chaney

Matter, the Smart Home Unification Standard, is Delayed Until 2022

The Matter smart home protocol (formerly Project CHIP) laid down a gauntlet for itself when it stepped triumphantly into the world: solve all the worst issues about smart homes, bring all the big players together, and release devices by the end of 2021. Sadly, it’s going to miss on that last part.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

Ring Outdoor Smart Plug review: A tough outdoor smart plug for Ring users


The Ring smart home ecosystem continues to grow with the addition of this outdoor smart plug. It’s a capable but familiar product, offering two independently controllable outlets, a beefy and rugged design (IP66 when off, IP64 when in use; you can read all about IP codes in this other story), and the usual collection of smart features like scheduling and a detailed usage log.

The device is largely made of plastic and features a large, well-designed seal over each of its two three-prong outlets. Total power output is a solid 1,875 watts, with 15 amps or 1/2 horsepower of draw allowed. The top of the device features a blue LED that indicates whether the plug is connected wirelessly. Two small white LEDs on either side of this indicator tell you whether each outlet is powered on or off. These LEDs are affixed to a button that can be pressed to manually turn each outlet on or off.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Christopher Null

The Best Smart Plugs of 2021 to Help Light Up Your Home

With smart plugs, you can schedule appliances to turn on and off, control them with your voice, and track their energy consumption. Use our recommended list of smart plugs to find one that’s right for your home.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andy Nguyen

Resetting Your IoT Device Before Reselling It Isn’t Enough, Researchers Find


As IoT devices like Amazon Echo become more and more popular, it isn’t unusual for users to re-sell them. Indeed, it’s increasingly common to come across them on eBay or even at the occasional yard sale. Amazon suggests that, when users are done with a product, they factory reset the device so as to erase any personal…

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Lucas Ropek

How to Get a Fullscreen Clock on the Google Nest Hub

Many love using their Google Nest Hubs to show off pictures, but you don’t have to use the display as a photo frame. We’ll show you how to turn it into a fullscreen—digital or analog—clock.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joe Fedewa

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