The wired vs. wireless debate always gets pretty intense. Some argue wireless is better for future-proofing a house (and homebuilder Lennar agrees) and others argue that no network will ever be as reliable as structured wiring. The founders of Swidget, a modular electrical outlet launching on Kickstarter, want to bridge the gap and create a way of future-proofing using nothing but a home's existing wiring.
The product is designed to “turn any home into a smart home” by replacing a traditional electrical outlet with a Swidget, which is essentially an outlet with “snap-in” inserts.
These inserts offer mild smart-home functionality like Wi-Fi, security camera, carbon monoxide sensors, Bluetooth, motion and temperature sensors, Amazon Echo extension and USB. Swidget's developer kit means partners can create their own inserts.
The inserts can can be controlled via the Swidget app. Beyond the app, the company has plans to make the Swidget compatible with Google Home, Nest, IFTTT, and Stringify.
“There are two aspects to the Kickstarter launch,” founders Chris Adamson and Lowell Misener tell New Atlas. “Firstly to begin introducing our universal platform to the public, but also to meet partners. Having potential partners exposed to the platform is almost as exciting as the ability to assess to potential of the consumer offering.
The duo hopes to find many more technologies that can integrate into its “Swidget eco-system,” which won't be competitors but potential partnerships.
“One of our hopes is to be able to partner with companies such as, say, ADT Security,” said Adamson. “Using Swidget, you'd be able to install or reconfigure your own security system and you don't need to worry about powering the little battery-powered sensors everywhere. So we're hoping that we could offer Swidget inserts that could be part of a larger kit, maybe optional, maybe even standard.”
“We're also looking to be able to offer a simplified interface for some of the smart home hubs out there, but we'd really love it if we could get a Google Home or an Alexa Hub voice activated version as a Swidget insert,” Adamson adds.
How Swidget Works
Swidget is made up of two elements: the Swidget outlet and inserts. Many of the Swidget inserts can be used on their own, like a nightlight or USB charger, or they can connect to a number of systems via WiFi, Z-Wave or ZigBee. This allows the user to connect Swidget to their existing smart home products.
Alternatively, users can start their smart home automation with Swidget, and choose whatever platform they'd like to use in a home.
“We're going to have two levels of inserts: inserts that utilize the resources in the Swidget outlet and those that don't,” says Adamson. “One example is the USB charging insert. It could be a stand-alone insert that doesn't necessarily make use of the ability to turn on and off the outlet or measure and control things, and it would be a very inexpensive option as far as inserts go because all the AC-DC conversion is done in the outlet. If you were in a situation where you wanted to be able to control it, then you would be able to get the USB charging plus the connectivity version, to give you both, and that holds true of quite a few of the inserts.”
Where the additional inserts will come from depends on what the users is looking to achieve, Adamson adds, but all of the connectivity lives on the insert, so everything can be swapped out. That means you're not bound to Wi-Fi or Z-Wave or ZigBee. You can pop each in and out whenever you'd like.
“It could be from safety or home security, or maybe just you want to clean up stuff that already exists and is a bit messy and doesn't need the clutter,” says Misener. “There are all sorts of products that are coming out with really good utility, such as say, leak sensors. They are products that plug into power outlets, but if they were turned into a Swidget insert, the power conversion is already done in the outlet and it saves on size and cost and clutter because you don't need that bulky AC-DC power converter.”
This tells you something. In two days, the Swidget Kickstarter campaign reached $37,308 of its $40,000 goal.
Shipping is expected to start in June 2018.