Automating blinds can be a fun DIY project if you know your way around an Arduino board. If you’d much rather have your inner MacGyver sit this one out in favour of an off-the-shelf device with a few advanced features (as advanced as opening and closing blinds can get), you could turn to FlipFlic, a smart controller for blinds.
Motorized blinds makers like Somfy and Pella offer shades as an entire system, and make integrations with other smart home devices simple. As a result of the end-to-end-offering, those options tend to be on the pricier side. FlipFlic is being made available at less than a hundred bucks, and that’s possible because it can be retrofitted onto almost any garden variety blinds. The FliFlic is the motor.
While most smart home technology emphasizes feature lists and integrations, FlipFlic maintains a laser focus on convenience. That focus is apparent right from the installation stage.
To start off, the device is placed where the open-close mechanism normally goes. It uses a magnet to stay in place, so there isn’t much to the installation process at all. FlipFlic supports both vertically and horizontally oriented blinds; you need to specify what kind you own while purchasing the product. Support for blinds manipulated using strings is coming soon.
The adjustment of blinds is automated using inputs from temperature and light sensors on board the FlipFlic. The device will automatically reduce the distance between the slats if there’s an abundance of sunlight streaming in or open the shades out on a more overcast day.
Android and iPhone users can also download a companion app to set a specific schedule on which the blinds can be adjusted or manually control the blinds at any time they want.
Even charging the FlipFlic seems convenient; the device’s batteries can be replenished without a power socket using a solar charger that costs an additional $15. It can also be charged using a micro-USB port. Despite its low price, FlipFlic does support integration with smart home systems that work over ZigBee or BLE protocols.
Apart from the comfort of being able to control your blinds remotely, FlipFlic’s makers claim it may contribute to energy savings due to lesser dependence on artificial lighting and a reduced load on AC. They also mention it may act as a home security appliance since the movement of the blinds can trick people into believing an empty house is inhabited.
FlipFlic has comfortably crossed its Kickstarter goal of $50,000 (they’re over $65K now) with almost a month left to go in the campaign. The $60 and $75 pledges are gone, but you can still reserve a FlipFlic Full Pack for $85. Units are expected to begin shipping in January 2017.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.