Device-maker Avi-on thinks its Bluetooth LE-powered $40 Avi-On Movable Light Switch is the answer to the problem of the overcomplicated smart home.
There's a certain logic in using Bluetooth as a basis for building out a smart home. Many Android phones, and any iPhone from the 4S onward can talk directly to a switch or a plug using Bluetooth LE, so many consumers already have the necessary control point. You don't have to worry about losing control of your Bluetooth devices when the internet goes down. Using Bluetooth low energy (aka Bluetooth LE) also lets certain devices run on batteries, rather than requiring a power cable or a direct in-wall wire connection.
That low power draw in particular gives the Movable Light Switch some appeal. Because it runs on batteries, it will work anywhere, as long as it's in range of Avi-on's coming Bluetooth light bulbs.
The switch itself is a slider that lets you dim the lights as well as turn them on and off directly. You fix it to the wall using an included adhesive strip, or you can screw it in directly over an existing light switch mounting plate.
Along with the switch, Avi-on also has an app that lets you drive the system from any Bluetooth LE-equipped Android or iOS device. The controls here all sound pretty typical, you get on/off, dimming, scheduling, and grouping capability. Thanks to a licensing deal with GE, we'll also see an assortment of GE-branded Avi-on compatible Bluetooth switches and plugs hit the market which will also work with the Avi-on app.
While a Bluetooth-based smart home sounds simple, one downside is that you can't control it when you're away from home unless you use some kind of Internet-bridging device. Avi-on says it will sell its own bridge device. It hasn't firmed up any partnerships with third-party hub manufacturers yet, but it's easy to imagine, the , or adding Avi-on compatibility.
You should also consider Belkin's Wi-Fi-based WeMo connected device family if you want both local and remote smart-home control and you also want to remain hub-free. Belkin's competing WeMo Light Switch needs a direct connection to your in-wall wiring, so it doesn't have the same location flexibility as the Avi-on switch, but you also don't need a separate device to control it or most other WeMo products remotely.
Avi-on is bringing its switch, light bulbs, and other devices to market via a self-run crowd-funding campaign. It expects to sell the first round of products in the spring or summer of 2015.