I had the opportunity last year to look at littleBits’ Smart Home Kit, a collection of small electronic modules that can snap together and be used to automate otherwise ordinary appliances and gadgets – essentially transforming them into smart, connected devices.
The littleBits Smart Home Kit was certainly fun to tinker around with but in my opinion, it’s more of a teaching tool than anything else. Given its $249 price tag (which has dropped to around $225 as of writing), it isn’t cost-efficient to buy the entire kit if you have a very specific purpose in mind.
Indeed, if you’ve got a specific purpose in mind that happens to involve pressing a button or switch, a device like the Switch-Bot might do the trick for far less money.
The Switch-Bot is a smart IoT “robot” designed to mechanically control switches and buttons wirelessly. Powered by a replaceable lithium battery that lasts up to two years, it’s essentially a remote switch-flipper / button-pusher that uses a small motor to physically turn devices in your home on or off.
Using another gadget dubbed the Switch-Link lets you connect the Switch-Bot to your Wi-Fi network for control when away from your home (without the Switch-Link, you’re limited to local Bluetooth control). Users can even set schedules to have Switch-Bots activate automatically at certain times during the day or pair them with IFTTT recipes for added flexibility.
While there are plenty of use cases where this would be handy, it’s not without a few shortcomings like the fact that it’ll stick out like a sore thumb in an otherwise nice-looking home. What’s more, is the included 3M VHB tape used strong enough to assist in pushing buttons that require a decent amount of force? How will the tape hold up over time?
The Switch-Bot is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. The campaign has already blown past its modest $3,000 funding goal with just shy of $23,000 having been pledged from 257 backers as of writing.
A pledge of $49 will get your name on the list for a pair of Switch-Bots in your choice of white, green or pink color schemes. If you want Internet connectivity via the Switch-Link, you’ll need to pledge at least $79.