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Smart Home

FirstBuild wants you to take charge of your smart home

FirstBuild's $20 Green Bean Maker Module and Software Developer Kit can make your dumb appliances smart.

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FirstBuild

If you're interested in the idea of the smart home, but don't want to spend $3,600 on a Wi-Fi-enabled fridge with an embedded LCD touchscreen , FirstBuild has an appealing alternative: A $20 module that you can use to create the connected home you crave.

This skinny green module, which the FirstBuild co-creation community appropriated dubbed Green Bean, pairs with the Green Bean Software Developer Kit so you can retroactively program smart capabilities into a bunch of different non-smart GE fridges, dishwashers, ranges, washers, dryers, wall ovens, and water heaters (view the full list of compatible models here).

That means that you should be able to start with a regular ol' GE dryer and program it to text you when a cycle is done or "tell" it to start a new cycle from your smartwatch -- all with this $20 adapter and its SDK. That sure sounds like large-appliance-manufacturer-level smart functionality to me...except in this case, you can hack your existing GE appliances to do your smart-home bidding (insert evil laugh here).

The JavaScript-based SDK can run on Mac, PC, and Linux, giving you the freedom to interact with your appliances via phone, laptop, Raspberry Pi, and so on. If you think this sounds cool but only know Raspberry Pi as a delightful dessert item, don't despair. FirstBuild says that an "intermediate level of programming knowledge" is all that's needed to make your dumb appliances smart.

Yes, going the Green Bean route is significantly more hands-on, and potentially much more tedious than taking a quick trip to Best Buy to get that app-enabled washer-dryer combo you've been eyeing; but that's kind of the point. All of FirstBuild's small-batch prototypes-turned-retail-products are geared toward budding programmers and DIY enthusiasts who want to take their smart home into their own hands, rather than throwing down thousands for someone else's take on the Internet of Things.

Considering this philosophy, it's hardly surprising that the Green Bean Maker Module is FirstBuild's first product to make it to market. Get a Green Bean today to begin your very own appliance mods.

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