Awesome Stuff: Smart Plugs

from the plug-away dept

For this week’s awesome stuff post, highlighting various crowdfunding projects, we’re going to look at three different smartplug projects, all of which connect to smartphones. I recognize that this concept isn’t new, and you can find a few existing such products on the market already, but it’s interesting to see three different smartplug offerings all hit Kickstarter at around the same time. Apparently something’s in the air.

  • We’ll kick it off with the Zuli Smartplug which is mainly focused on how it can be used for lighting. If you plug a light into a Zuli, you get your basic energy monitoring on your phone, as well as on/off controls and dimming from your phone. It also does some location-based things, like turning on as you enter a room.
    The devices run $40 to $45, depending on whether the earlybird pricing is still available — though some of the location-based info requires you to have 3 Zulis so it can triangulate where you are. So far the project has raised about $50,000 of the $150,000 it’s shooting for in just a few days, with four weeks to go. It seems likely that it will hit the goal and probably jump past it by a decent amount.
  • Next up is the Plugaway, which has a lot of similarities to the Zuli. It’s also a smartplug that has a smartphone app to control electronics. It also monitors energy usage, lets you turn on and off lights and dim them as well. It includes some scheduling software as well, but doesn’t seem to have the same location based stuff. One somewhat different feature with the Plugaway is that they’re pushing the fact that their software and hardware is completely open, so others can take it and brand it as their own (they suggest interior designers, building developers or restaurant owners can customize the setup so it’s “personalized”). I’m not sure how big that market is, but it’s different. Perhaps more interesting is just the fact that they’re hoping that developers build on it and share what they’ve done. So others can write apps and share them, and it can connect to outside services like the ever-popular IFTTT.
    These guys already hit their $50,000 Australian goal and have shot past it, and they also have about four weeks to go. The pricing on the Plugaway also seems a bit cheaper than the Zuli (especially when you take into account the slight difference between the US dollar and the Australian dollar). Also, while both have multipacks that cost a little over $100, the Plugaway comes with 5 plugs, while the Zuli only comes with 3.
  • Finally, we’ve got the Smart Power Strip, which is pretty similar (again) to the other two, but (as you already guessed) comes in the form of a powerstrip, rather than a single plug. Feature-wise, you’ll see the same basic things. See your electronics from your smartphone and be able to turn them on or off (including from remote locations, via WiFi in the power strip). Monitor your electricity usage. These guys are also looking to add other smart devices, but those don’t appear to be ready yet. The design is definitely a bit more clunky and less modern and sleek than the other two, but that may be personal preference.
    These guys have about 70% of the $100,000 target, with a bit over a week to go. It may be close to see if they actually get across the finish line. The power strips run between $99 and $119 depending on if you get into the early bird. Considering the number of outlets, this seems on par with the two above, but without the flexibility of being able to install in multiple rooms.

That’s about it for this week. Go unplug something.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Smart Plugs”

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Griff (profile) says:

Re: uMMM

X10 isn’t really a useful thing anymore. It still works, yes, but too many things interfere with it these days. CF bulbs and switching power supplies will kill an X10 system.

I personally took my X10 system out of service a few years back, as it was becoming more and more unreliable. Last use, the timer and controller had to be on the same plug for anything to work with reliability.

I really miss the easy just plug it in usefulness of the X10 system. It’s just past it’s time.

toyotabedzrock (profile) says:

Almost all the current smart home stuff is over priced and has limited functionality.

Id like to see a socket mounted smart plug, and one that covers a standard two receptacle outlet.

I also noticed, since I was in the market for outlets recently, that most of the alternate receptacle f
size formats seem to be dying and the smart lines are in such flux and are so unclear about functionality that it seems to be a bad investment.

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