The smartest smart home would automatically inuit your every need -- no voice commands or apps required. Simply walking into a room would prompt an immediate response from your lights, thermostat and TV, to the exact settings you wanted. With the exception of select motion-activated automations, that doesn't really exist today.
Startup Intellithings promises to bridge that gap with RoomMe. RoomMe is a disk-shaped presence sensor that looks just like a smoke detector. Units are currently available via crowdfunding site Indiegogo starting at $139 (that's about £105 and AU$180, converted).
Here's the gist:
Step 1: Install one RoomMe sensor per room on the ceiling near the doorway. Two D batteries power one RoomMe (no wires needed); Intellithings says they should last up to three years before needing to be replaced.
This immediately gave me pause, because, like the Lucis Nubryte camera-light control combo device, who wants to install something like this in every room?
Step 2: Download the RoomMe app for Android or iPhone and tell it what smart devices you have, as well as what room they're in.
Step 3: As long as you have your phone in tow, the RoomMe sensor will let the app know what room you're in via presence detection -- and adjust your smart devices based on your preferences via Bluetooth.
I imagine RoomMe would work best for automations you tend to do habitually. If your schedule is always varied, this sort of setup would probably be more annoying than helpful. You should be able to prioritize whose settings RoomMe chooses and sticks with, though, even if multiple people with their own configurations are present. And if you walk into your bedroom at 11 a.m. Intellithings says it will react differently than it would at 11 p.m.
Intellithings' Indiegogo page lists a wide range of smart home partners for RoomMe, including Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Belkin WeMo and Nest. Units are expected to ship to backers everywhere in May 2018.
I'm equal parts skeptical about this product and intrigued by the idea of not having to use voice commands or apps to actively control smart products. If it works, RoomMe could be really useful, particularly as assistive technology for individuals with disabilities. We'll just have to wait and see.