Tado's got a smart solution for your dumb air conditioner

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/ Updated: 13 May 2014, 8:30 am AEST

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Tado, Inc.

Promising to "breathe new life into your old AC," Munich-based start-up Tado, Inc. is hoping to crowdfund a successful launch of its new Tado Cooling system. Expected to retail for $149 later this year, the device is designed to smarten up whatever not-so-smart air conditioner you've already got sitting in your window. Kickstarter backers can lock a unit down for for $99 (£88, €108).

A follow-up to last year's smart heating kit, Tado's cooling hub will sync wirelessly with both your window air conditioner and your smartphone, offering remote control, as well as location-based automation. Leave for work in the morning, and the air will shut off automatically. Start your drive home, and Tado will sense that you're on your way, then make sure things are nice and cool as soon as you walk through the door.

The Tado uses infrared to connect with your AC unit, with six emitting diodes that claim a 180-degree beam angle. As for your phone, the Tado connects via Bluetooth LE, with iBeacon support capable of tracking your specific movement throughout your home. For remote access, a built-in Wi-Fi module allows Tado to sync up with your local network.

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Tado, Inc.

On top of all that, the Tado Cooling system's face features a slick-looking matrix of white LEDs that can disappear into the unit just as easily as they display the temperature. Tado also tracks local weather forecasts and boasts a built-in humidity sensor that promises to keep your climate precisely as dry as you like.

Additionally, the face of Tado is capacitive, so you'll have the option of manual control using simple touch gestures. That sounds neat, if not a bit unnecessary, given the fact that you'll need to keep the Tado fairly close to your AC unit (and its own knobs, buttons, and dials).

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Tado's app will let you automate your air conditioner based on your location. Tado, Inc.

From the promise of location-based automation to the disappearing LED display, Tado feels similar to the Aros Smart Air Conditioner from Quirky+GE. The obvious difference is that the $300 Aros is an air conditioner in its own right, while Tado simply wants to smarten up your old one. The latter approach might make more sense for consumers that like the air conditioner they already have and don't want to replace it outright.

The strength of that selling point will depend on the width of Tado's compatibility with existing devices. Tado's design team claims that it'll work with any AC unit that uses a remote. Users looking to smarten up a unit without a remote won't be able to use Tado -- though they could turn instead to something like Belkin's WeMo Insight Switch.

Tado's Kickstarter campaign runs through June 11 and seeks $150,000. If funded, the Tado Cooling system is expected to ship out to backers in August.

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Tado Cooling Intelligent AC Control

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