Published on 18th May 2017

Smart Blinds that Integrate with Amazon Alexa

Although it takes time for the Internet of Things (IoT) to establish itself in our homes beyond the conventional smart thermostats and multi-coloured LED lamps, constant developments in the smart home sector mean that new and exciting gadgets keep popping up from time to time. What’s more important that high adoption rate means the prices of these smart gadgets are relatively reasonable.

Here’s one that caught our attention recently – wouldn’t it be nice if you could control the amount of sunlight entering your property. Now you can – SOMA Smart Shades is built to do just that. It’s a tiny solar-powered electric motor hidden in a simple plastic housing connecting directly to your roller thread.

You control opening and shutting of the smart blinds through a mobile app. It is possible to set a schedule to open and close the roller blinds at certain times during the day. One downside is that once threaded into the motor you lose manual control of your blind. I would assume it does look silly a person standing next to the window trying to lower the blinds using an app. But, hey, it’s the reality of our modern smart homes as we gradually hand over manual tasks to artificial intelligence.

Unfortunately, SOMA Smart Shades won’t be able to control some of the older style Roman blinds (nobody can, to be honest) but if your home features the roll blinds, you’re on to a winner. On South-facing windows the SOMA actually makes a lot of sense. It will help you lower your energy bills during the winter by maximising the ambient heat entering the property. During the summer, it will help you cut the expenses related to cooling and air conditioning.

The basic model of SOMA has been around for quite a while and it has attracted some criticism due to the fact that it was not open source, however, this is about to change. The new model – SOMA Connect is on pre-order right now and due for shipping on 20th June 2017. It will support Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit voice controls. So you will now be able to shout at your smart blinds! The unit cost is set at £79.

SOMA Smart Shades is not the only motorised blinds solution out there but it’s one of the few that can be described as truly smart. There is a company called Powerblinds and although they provide custom solutions for interior designers as well as controls ranging from handy remotes to wall-mounted timers, there is no app, so it’s not a pure IoT device. One step closer to smart blinds is the Controliss equipped with a wireless RTS system It will raise or lower the blinds driven by the amount of sunlight falling on its sensor. Pretty cool, although not completely smart in the true sense of the word