Digital Shades: App Controlled Window Treatments

Digital Shades: App Controlled Window Treatments

Gregory Han
Jun 4, 2013

I've always believed the best technologies are the ones which allow you to spend more time doing the things that matter the most to you. Because I doubt many of us want to spend time opening and closing window coverings throughout the house, why not automate privacy and shading from the convenience of an app?

The SONTE system is a Kickstarter project with an obvious amount of potential beyond window privacy shading. The "iPhone/iPad Android DIY WiFi Digital Shade" system changes from clear to opaque using an electric current (here's an explanation of how similar smart glass works), automatically adjusting the opacity, eliminating to need to cover windows using a traditional shade or blinds setup. The transparent film offers instant on/off privacy with UV protection, all controls accessible via a free iOS or Android app, and designed for easy DIY installation. The film can even double up as a projection screen (though the contrast/brightness is modest at best), as shown above.

As someone who has installed frosted window film several times, this appears to be one of the easier to install window covering systems, even compared to some traditional blinds/shades system; the SONTE is amongst one of a growing category of connected home automation systems we saw all over CES earlier this year. I'm hoping to see the project cross over from Kickstarter to an off-the-shelf option by next year, believing this might be ideal for rooms where privacy is a concern, but retaining available incoming light is ideal (not just for windows facing outdoors, but also for glass partitioning inside).

Anyone who has shopped for window coverings should recognize the name Hunter Douglas, an established brand in the category of blinds, shutters, and shades. They've recently added an app-controlled element to their existing battery-powered products, further simplifying window treatment control. 

The Hunter Douglas Platinum App communicates from compatible iOS devices to a specialized bridge, connected to their automatic window shade or blind covering systems to offer controls of windows throughout the house from your phone or tablet with scheduling time/dates offered for added convenience and security; a plug-in repeater can be used to extend the system beyond the usual reach of your wi-fi router's signal perimeter for reaching windows upstairs. Their Platinum App Bridge Kit is $285.00, while additional repeater kits are $83.00 each; just note these prices are just for the wireless connectivity kit, and you'll have to still pay for the window coverings themselves.

SmartShade is a Quirky project we've been keeping an eye on. It seems easy to install and the app controlled motorized window shade system is designed to work with extremely affordable and common roller shades. The proposed system went from "Under Consideration" to "Chosen", so hopefully we'll see the concept refined and offered over at Quirky for a reasonable renter's price, all before the summer heat starts making itself known.

(Images: as linked above)

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