The One-Minute Smart Home #CES2018

Retrofitting a home to become smart without the use of tools and with minimal effort and time is the goal of Switchmate. Switchmate CEO Dean Finnigan demonstrates several of their SimplySmartHome products, including smart light switches, doorbell sensors, and wireless (i.e. no power wires) high definition surveillance cameras at Showstoppers at CES2018.

Finnigan was also the founder of Pandigital, a brand that became synonymous with digital picture frames back in their heyday. He brings that experience to this venture and believes that the smart home is ripe for the same sort of simplicity and low-cost products that will enable mass adoption.

Author’s Notes about Installation and Operation:

Screenshot of Swtichmate app in the settings mode.. The device is is working and is connected.
Screenshot of App connected to Simplemate Power

It really does take less than a minute to install a Switchmate product. I successfully installed a Switchmate Power smart plug to an outlet which is connected to Christmas tree lights. The device literally plugs into the wall, so no tools were necessary for installation. A simple touch of the smart screen now triggers the lights, instead of the usual army crawl to the back of the Christmas tree searching in the dark for an outlet. If the Christmas tree had need for USB power, the Switchmate Power could supply it with its two built-in USB power ports.

Similarly, the installation of the Switchmate Slim, which magnetically attaches to an existing light switch (rocker or toggle style) was effortless. It comes with two AA batteries, which, according to Switchmate customer support, “It’s [battery lifespan] varies, dependent on how often you use the Switchmate device. But if used frequently, the battery lifespan should last you a couple months at a time.”* It includes a motion sensor (with an adjustable timer on the app), which makes for a very simple way to upgrade any room so that the lights automatically turn off when a room is unoccupied.

Screenshot of Swtichmate app in the settings mode.. The device is is working but it appears disconnected.
Screenshot of app – unit still working, but it appears to be disconnected

It was easy to configure a timer on the app, which turns on the plug at sunset. There are two such timers in the app. There is a ” Welcome Home” function which detects a given smartphone to initiate a pre-determined sequence of events (e.g. turn-on doorway light). An LED backlight on the Swtichmate Power can be enabled with the app..

The only criticism is that the app does not always seem to find a given Switchmate unit when in settings mode, as seen in the above screenshot. I would occasionally get a message indicating, “We could not detect your Switchmate device. Make sure that the device is within range.” This was an odd message, as the smartphone (Pixel 2) was within 6 feet of the Switchmate Power and the WiFi router was still working. This apparently isn’t unusual, as the user Quick Start Guide had a troubleshooting sequence that suggests turning off WiFi, Bluetooth and, even restarting the smartphone. These steps did seem to work.

With list pricing of $29.99 and $39.99, these are a great deal, as no tools or electricians are required to add intelligence to an existing domicile. They are simple to use and, with about a week of use, appear to be reliable once set. And, if their response to my query about battery life is an indication, their service is outstanding.

*Switchmate responded to my query within five minutes of asking. An account wasn’t necessary to ask my question.