Today I received a product that I’m really excited about. It is the retro-fit Automation Kit made by “My Smart Blinds“. The product is a beautifully packaged battery and motor assembly that can be inserted into the mechanical section of your blinds to control the tilt mechanism. What this means is no more pulling on two separate chords or twisting of a rod. On top of the mechanical portion of the product the company has designed an application that can be downloaded on your mobile device to control the blinds with tap of your finger. Taking it one step farther the application allows for you to make schedules, trigger with sun up/down, and even control the blind based on the temperature of the window.
Whats in the Box?
Within the packaging you will find, a motor, a battery pack, an adaptor for your existing pull chord or wand, and a full complement of adapters to help you retro fit your existing blinds.
The company says that their Automation Kit is compatible with most major brands of 2-3 inch horizontal blinds. I tend to believe them as I purchased my existing blinds at Home Depot about 4 months ago, with no intention of making them smart. I had absolutely no trouble getting the product to fit properly or adapt to my blinds. As far as the application goes, it is compatible with iOS devices 4s or newer, iPad 3rd gen or newer, and apple watch, and must be running iOS 7 or newer.
The My Smart Blind Automation Kit was incredibly easy to install. I have to admit I was a bit concerned as I have never paid much attention to the inside mechanisms in a window blind. The company provides a thoughtfully produced “how-to” installation video on their website. I will also embed the video at bottom of this page for your viewing pleasure. Installation requires no tools, just your fingers, and can be done in less than 15 minutes aided by the installation video referenced above. Once you have done one installation though, I’m pretty confident that it could be done in considerably less time in repetition.
Once installed, you have numerous of ways to operate your newly automated blinds. The first (and the most boring option) is to utilize the pull chord or wand you have now installed into the adapter provided in the kit. Pulling the chord or wand firmly, will cycle through open/closed until you get it to your desired setting.
From the My Smart Blind application you have a few different options to control your blinds.
On the home screen you can view a list of all of your products. From here you can tap on the icons next to the device you want to control. Tapping the open icon will fully open and tapping the closed icon will fully close the blind. You will notice at the top of the screen you also have an option to control all devices connected at the same time.
From within the home screen you can also tap on individual rooms for more advanced control.
From the “Room Screen”, you can control the device by tapping on the up/down arrows to change the blind by 45 degree increments. You can also fine-tune your device with the use of the slide bar in-between the up/down arrows.
Schedule Set (Within the Application)
You can also set schedules based on your lifestyle to control your blinds. To do this, while in the room control page, tap the schedule button in the bottom left hand side of the screen.
From here you can set a manual schedule by specifying the time, and selecting or deselecting days that you want the schedule to run. You can also set the device to track with the sun and/or to gradually move to a position that you determine over a period of 5 minutes.
Accessory Control (Smart Switch) sold separately
Lastly, you can purchase a smart switch from My Smart Blind that can manually control up to 8 blinds in a group and up to 4 groups. The product is a $60.00 add on purchase and is a peel and stick switch you slap on the wall.
For an additional $45.00 you can purchase a small solar panel that clips to the back of your blind and will keep your My Smart Blind charged all the time. This eliminates the need to pereiodically charge the battery which the company states should last between 6-12 months. I have not tried the solar application yet but it seems to be a fairly straightforward concept. I love the idea as it makes the product more eco friendly and helps save money.
Much to my dismay, a charging cable is not included in the Automation Kit. In my opinion It’s hard to justify sending out a $99.00 product with out a proper way to charge it. Nevertheless it can be purchased separately for $14.00 directly from the website. Thankfully the Cable is not a proprietary connector, so any Micro USB cable you have laying around will do the trick as long as it is long enough to reach a power outlet. That being said one of my initial concerns was if you would have to take the blind down to charge it. The answer is no. The adapter for your pull cord or want has a port built into it for the micro USB.
Want a smart blind but don’t feel comfortable replacing the inside guts of your existing blind? My Smart Blind has you covered. The company also makes a custom order blind product that has the tech built right in. Not only that, but it looks like it is the easiest blind to install on the market. Again, there are no tools required, and no hardware fasteners to install. Just order the right size, fit the blind inside the window space, and snap the “Smart Lock” arm in place. You can check out more about this product at their website or watch the video below.
I am really impressed with the Automation Kit by My Smart Blind. It is incredibly simple to install, and requires little effort to set up and control. I am truly bias to products that automate existing appliances and fixtures we currently have in our homes. Along with products that replicate the functionality and design of non-smart products and appliances. With this in mind My Smart Blind knocks it out of the park. You can still operate it manually, while at the same time benefit from it’s highly customizable features. All while looking the same as it did before you opened it up to do the retrofit. Installation is more like putting on a band-aid rather than performing open heart surgery, and the fact that you need no tools at all amazes me. It shows you the attention to detail the company had while developing this well designed product. My only complaint is that it rolled out with little support for platforms such as Apple’s HomeKit, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, or Amazon Echo. However, the latter two are said to be coming soon on the companies website. With all the technology that they packed into this small Automation Kit though, it’s easy to see that integrating with other platforms may prove to be unnecessary. Two thumbs up from Average Joe on this product so far, and I look forward to seeing what integrations they will add as well as new products that they may deliver.